Why is the rom com one of the most enduring genres. What is it about the rom com that audiences love?
Although it went out of fashion for a while, the rom com has resurfaced with the rise of the SVOD platform.
One thought on that is that it’s a a great ‘rom compromise’ – people get together; one of you loves horror, the other period drama BUT both will agree on to watch a rom com.
What is it about the rom com that pulls us in again & again.
- The rom com is generally easy to follow.
- Boy meets girl / boy meets boy / girl meets girl – you get it.
- There’s a spark between them but maybe they’re not suited or maybe they can’t see how well suited they are.
- So, can they overcome the obstacle and find a way to reconcile (usually – yes!)
- We subconsciously understand the three act structure with a happy ending – the fairy tale element to a Cinderella type story.
- What is it about the rom com that we love? That it’s a light-hearted & laughter fueled journey.
The first meeting:
- The movie couple encounter one another in a somewhat awkward moment – termed the ‘meet cute’.
- WE, the audience, know that this is the couple destined to be together (but it’ll take 85 more minutes to do it!)
- I’d argue that there are many elements of this in Oscar winning picture GREEN BOOK. Tony Lip and Dr. Shirley definitely aren’t suited at the outset, yet come to understand and love one another by the finale.
What type of things keep people apart ?
- Personality type
- Outside forces i.e. another partner already in the frame
- Behaviour – one does something the other dislikes & that colours their opinion in that moment.
So, what is it about the rom com?
Rom Coms have been around across the decades – from Doris Day & Rock Hudson; to When Harry Met Sally; Pretty Woman; Four Weddings & A Funeral; Love Actually; The Wedding Crashers to Love, Simon and Crazy, Rich Asians
In more recent – cynical – times, the rom com became a movie with harder edges – How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days; Knocked Up; American Pie 2 – these movies are more aggressive & sexual; but they appeal to a broad audience.
However, there is still the ultimate moment where one realises that life isn’t complete without the other.
- Although weddings aren’t necessarily the same ceremonies globally, there is a common theme re love & marriage.
- Culturally we are different across the globe – but there are some universal truths about romance.
- Love – “all you need is love” as the song says – and that desire to have a significant other.
- It doesn’t have to be happily ever after – but an uplifting, heartwarming finale helps.
- When the world is miserable on 24×7 News channels – “if it bleeds, it leads” – a hopeful story brings a little cheer.
- Rom coms are a celebration of life and love – the human race showing its better side.
- There are tears but of both laughter and joy.
Silver Dollar Audience
- Usually the rom com was all about the younger audience, however, the industry has seen a rise in the value of targeting movies at an older audience – love ‘the second time’ around.
- There’s room for laughter when kids are watching their parents fool around (& get the romance wrong).
- Life isn’t over at 55 – viagra and dating platforms opened up a whole new world for silver dating!
- Something’s Gotta Give; It’s Complicated; Hampstead
- It’s rare for a rom com to get the attention of the awards circuit.
- Why isn’t a movie that moves a global audience seen to be as ‘worthy’ as a drama?
- “Who’s on the poster” ….
- It can be tough to cast a rom com – for finance & sales purposes, you will need visible talent to attract your audience (never easy on an indie budget).
- Charisma – when we think of our favourite rom coms, we associate the chemistry between the two leads as being vital to the movie’s success.
- That’s a pretty high bar to live up to.
Today’s rom com
- Love, Simon; To All the Boys I’ve Loved; The Big Sick
- Netflix has proven to be supporters of the rom com because their data tells them the audience loves to watch these movies.
- Is there a new twist on an old theme – that’s what audiences want.
- Be distinctive in some way on that journey to true love.
- Show the protagonist will put themselves out on a limb to do what it takes.
- Modern dating is different – MATCH and TINDER – swipe left / right – but the endgame is the same: finding a soul mate.
- Even Superhero movies have a rom com twist – what’s Clark Kent without Lois Lane; or Tony Stark without Pepper Potts ?
Over the years, I have read many rom com scripts but rarely one that feels fresh and original. Why does this seemingly simple genre appear to be hard to get right? The audience wants a fresh take on a known theme. The good news is that if you find that new hook, they’ll love it.