My first marriage was a drama with a devastating ending. My marriage now is a rom-com. It is a genre dismissed by many, particularly by men, but there are some great rom-coms. Some of Hitchcock’s films are romantic comedies, like “North by Northwest.” I recently binge-watched a Japanese TV series called “Map for the Wedding” on Amazon Prime, which renewed my interest in the genre. But then I watched “Your Place or Mine” with Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher, and I was reminded of how bad most rom-coms are.
Most rom-coms follow a specific format. Two characters meet under an unexpected, awkward, or comical circumstance, and something prevents them from hooking up. Often they hate each other at first, but eventually, they overcome the obstacles and unite. There is nothing wrong with following a given structure, like haiku; you can do a lot with it. “When Harry Met Sally,” which is considered one of the best, follows this format.
What makes some rom-coms unwatchable for men is the same as what makes some action films unwatchable for women: complete disregard for reality.
In many action films (or “bro-flicks”), the laws of physics are completely ignored, which does not bother the audience. In fact, that is the main draw; they want to fulfill their juvenile fantasy of defying gravity.
In bad rom-coms like “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” the laws of personality are completely ignored. The male lead can be a billionaire scientist who writes beautiful poems, can dance and play the piano, has read all the great works of literature, looks like David Beckham, and loves you even if you are a total loser.
Action film fans at least know that reality does not ignore the laws of physics. I’m not sure if the same can be said about rom-com fans.
Nevertheless, I like the idea of romantic comedy because love is inherently tragic. By definition, we have no control over love. It’s like waking up in a speeding car without a steering wheel. Love without comedy ends in intolerable tragedy. Rom-com is the genre I prefer for my own life. Even if my wife dies, I can keep laughing about what she might say.
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