I have a piece in The Atlantic this week, about the rom coms that came out this summer, and what they indicate about the state of the genre. For example, in modern romantic comedies:
The grand gesture, like the happy ending, is alive and well and will totally work.
In real life, when a boy won’t stop texting the girl he likes even after she has asked him to stop, we call it “relationship abuse.” When a guy won’t stop telling you he loves you, and when he shows up at your school and embarrasses you in front of your peers, we call that “borderline stalking.” In rom coms, however, these things are called “persistence” and are considered “romantic.” When the boy in question is 13, as he is in Crazy Stupid Love, it’s meant to be endearing. To Crazy Stupid Love‘s credit, the woman in question is not swayed by this behavior. She’s rightly mortified, and the boy in question is punished rather than rewarded for his refusal to take “no” for an answer. Until, of course, she forgives him half an hour later, and rewards his persistence by slipping him photos of herself naked. In a rom com, when a man declares that he will “never give up” on trying to win back a woman’s affection, we’re supposed to be touched and long for someone who will love us that intensely. In reality, though, we’d probably just say, “Hey, Steve Carell, stop sneaking into your wife’s back yard and watering her flowers under cover of darkness. It’s creepy.”
You can read the whole thing here.