One of the most popular genres in movies that almost everyone watches, are rom coms. But why? Why do people love awkward-but-sweet encounters? Or when the girl and the boy realize their hate is actually, love? Or when the couple run into each other’s arms and kiss in the rain? Well, it’s pretty simple. These love stories give us hope that we’ll find someone of our own to kiss in the rain. We people normally live by stories so it will help us to deal with our own tough realities.
Not only that, did you know that we have a love hormone? Yeah, and it’s called Oxytocin. There are scientific studies that prove us when we are told a story, the characters are brought to life and their story stays with us, which in turn increase our levels of that sweet Oxytocin. Our brain reacts as if we are experiencing itself. When you watch a romance movie or a rom com, you can feel like you’re falling in love with the characters on screen and connecting with them on a deeper level.
I remember when I was a teenager, rom coms were one of my favourite genres in films. Some of my favourite movies growing up was Warm Bodies (2013), Blended (2014), To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018), The Princess Switch (2018) etc. And I know this is not odd behaviour. Most teenage girls love rom coms, that is because most of them haven’t experienced love yet. Young girls or boys are drawn to these films because they can emotionally relate to them, even though they haven’t fully experienced the turmoil of romance. Like I mentioned before, these films give them hope.
But now that I’m older with more experience in love, I don’t feel the same way I felt about romcoms the way I did when I was a teenager. Mostly because they bring up expectations in relationships that do not normally happen in real life. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing romantic comedies that fill you with laughter and show love in the best way possible such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), Clueless (1995), Groundhog Day (1993), To All the Boys I've Loved Before (2018) etc. But some (actually many) rom coms that came out very recently shows love in the worst possible way.
For example, a lot of romcoms, especially teenage rom coms are filled with toxic love concepts that if you apply to real life, will produce disastrous results. Not only that, but rom coms also have a huge tolerance even glorification when it comes to cheating. A great example is in the movie Set It Up (2018), where the lead male character cheats on his newfound crush. But it was framed as okay because the girlfriend is just a shallow model anyway; so, we can just forget about her. But the truth is romancing someone else while you’re committed is a very hurtful and selfish move.
Another example of how rom coms show love is when the main character would stalk or manipulate their love interest in hopes that they can one day win their affection. This kind of behaviour is shown as a quirky thing in Amélie (2001). A lot of the time manipulative behaviour is excused because the main girl is socially awkward, or they have gone through some trauma.
Romcoms are also guilty of one other thing, and that is harmful plot points like “the right girl” transforming the emotionally constipated playboy, toxic will-they-won’t-they are fighting men by sticking with them no matter what, even though it hurts the girl a lot.
So, are rom coms bad for us? Well, it depends. Because with romcoms, it borders on fiction and nonfiction. Therefore, it’s very easy to believe the toxic love concepts in those movies are true in real life. This might lead to people applying those concepts and suffering horrible repercussions that rom-com characters rarely face.
With everything said though, romcoms are not all bad. It depends on how you look at them. You should look at romcoms not as romantic guides, but as works of fiction. In the words of Mindy Kaling, “I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.” To be honest, some rom coms teach us great advice as well. Love, Simon (2018) is another wonderful example of a rom com that makes us feel good without any of those toxic love concepts.
Romcoms can and has been toxic many times, but there are many more that are coming our way that shows the complete opposite. A rom com at its core is the journey of our main protagonist going through a journey of self-development so that he/she is ready to love someone. Recent rom coms that came out emphasise one self’s flaws and strengths as a process of falling in love. A gorgeous example of this is True Beauty, a k-drama that came out in 2020.
Therefore, not all hope is lost when it comes to romcoms. Keep watching them, because they help us relax, and makes our day a little bit better because of that onscreen couple finally getting together. Remember that some rom coms concepts are not true in real life and it's always better to consider them as fiction. Use the experiences of your friends and family to use in your love life rather than rom coms. And don’t forget, true love exists.