FACEOFF: Justice for the rom com

If you’ve ever watched a movie that makes your heart flutter, makes you laugh and has you daydreaming about a cheeky, fun-loving romance, chances are you’ve seen a rom-com.

Romantic comedies have been a huge part of my life ever since I was younger, and for good reason. They’re easy to watch and make you believe in happy endings. They’re a form of escapism that transcends the mundane while still having all the elements of a mundane life.

Think classic rom-coms like 13 Going On 30 or How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. The protagonists are both columnists living in a big city, stressed out by deadlines and the demands of a working life — things many people can relate to. But these characters also end up going on adventures of love and self-discovery that make for that perfect happy ending.

But, it’s also important to point out the outdated tropes in rom-coms, those that turn the manic-pixie dream girls and girls who can be “one of the guys” into gods. In reality, every person is deserving of love. But these movies can often favor a certain type of woman written with the male gaze in mind. This is where rom-coms can improve. Having more female writers to prevent belittling and insulting women who don’t fit the mold of the “ideal” female lead — usually a “guy’s girl” with Eurocentric features — is a place to start.

I admire movies like Crazy Rich Asians and The Big Sick for serving as more modern and diverse versions of the classic rom-com tropes. I loved the cultural influence of The Big Sick and how it still included the romance and comedy despite the tragedy of the sickness. In the end, Kumail and Emily’s love prevailed, and his devotion to her, even with her mysteriously failing health, proved to be enough. In Crazy Rich Asians, it’s class dynamics and familial responsibilities that must be overcome in order for Rachel and Nick to find a resolution.

Still, there’s a sexist stereotype about rom-coms movies that label them as “chick-flicks.” I think many people, specifically men, are prone to bringing something down just because women enjoy it. This is a damaging mindset because it teaches men and even women to make fun of or be ashamed of liking something as trivial as a genre of movies.

In reality, rom-coms can provide an escape for anyone. They’re witty, cheesy, romantic and lighthearted. It can be difficult to get into movie franchises like Marvel movies or Harry Potter without prior context and research, but rom-coms are something anyone can easily pick up and enjoy.