The evolution of rom-coms: Positive or negative?

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Ever since the release of the first romantic comedy, the fusion of displaying romantic relationships alongside a lighthearted, humorous plot took the world by storm, improving drastically as time has gone on. For many around the world, the rom-coms released from the 1980s to the early 2000s were the peak of entertainment in this genre, with many classics such as 10 Things I Hate About You, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days being released. If history continues, rom-coms should only be improving more and more, but is that the case?

What makes rom-coms so admired is the magic which they display, garnering attention from many viewers who love to see the intersection of a magical love story alongside the realistic lives of people. In regards to the ‘80s to 2000s rom-coms, Anoushka Singhal, a fourth-year at UC Berkeley, states how, “The movies feel vulnerable and seem to capture love for what it is—confusing, intimate, and passionate.” Rather than being average romance movies with a predictable plot, she feels that the films of this era utilized more creative storylines all while still depicting a realistic romance. 

However, when asked about more recent rom-coms, Singhal feels that they “seem to abandon the essence of love and romance, which ‘80s-2000s rom-coms had mastered. They feel like they’re trying to garner as many views as possible, rather than trying to tell a story.” Divya Mohanty, a junior at Washington High School, agrees, saying that “these movies lose my emotional investment…I know what’s going to happen and I honestly don’t care; this is a downfall of any movie.” Both of them feel that every recent rom-com consists of the exact same plot of a girl and boy liking each other while pretending not to, and finally getting together, with the same character archetypes each time. Meanwhile, older rom-coms, such as the 2008 film 27 Dresses, introduced creative ideas which no one had seen before, like  the love story of a woman who had served as a bridesmaid for others, 27 times. With every newer plot being easily predictable and losing the creativity of the decades before, many people, including Singhal and Mohanty, are not pleased with the evolution of rom-coms. One prominent example is Anyone But You.

On December 22, 2023, Anyone But You was released, breaking the box office record for a rom-com in the past eight years by garnering more than $100 million. In these past few months, due to the movie’s large success, people on social media have begun to consider this movie the resurgence of the rom-com era. It is also being considered as one of best rom-coms of all time, which is a high standard to meet. However, Singhal doesn’t agree with this idea, saying “the movie felt as formulaic as any other recent rom-com, focusing on humor and sexual innuendos rather than developing their romance in a natural way.” Anyone But You, which stars the admired Sydney Sweeney and SAG-Award winning Glen Powell, led Mohanty to come to the conclusion that “today’s rom-coms focus more on casting A-list actors to get profit instead of creating a movie.” Based on how this movie was perceived, this tactic is working. We can especially see this when we consider what brought the movie much of its success: a fake PR relationship between the two main actors, rather than the plot. 

Considering these various aspects, did the quality of rom-coms decline or not? Singhal expresses how “rom-coms have begun to reflect the modern world and status quo. Dating apps, situationships, and friends-with-benefits agreements are rampant. In the process of modernizing, rom-coms have lost the charm they once held.” With these ideas, she, as well as many others, urge Hollywood to “Bring back quirky plotlines and unique characters, and throw away the formulas!”

Anjika Singh is a junior at Washington High School, who has lived in Fremont, California her entire life. This is her first year as a part of The Hatchet, and she is excited to cover a variety of topics from reviews to school news through her articles. In her free time, Anjika enjoys dancing, reading, hanging out with friends, and watching movies and shows. In the future, Anjika hopes to go to college, but is undecided about what her major should be.

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