Happy Valentine's Day, single people! Isn't it depressing? And we all have the demented romantic comedy genre to thank for our feeling of unfulfillment (along with, you know, assorted other factors). But good news! The traditional rom-com has been dying a protracted death for the last five or six years.
Sure, the genre still exists. An argument could be made that the genre lives on in its purest form with the recent spate of rom-coms starring African-American actors (“Think Like a Man,” “About Last Night,” etc.) Recent films like Jenny Slate's “Obvious Child,” Lake Bell's “In A World…,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt's “Don Jon,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and even the zom-com flick “Warm Bodies” could also certainly be categorized as such — and yet what they all have in common is their failure to follow the once tried-and-true template of their star-driven predecessors. The conventional, old-fashioned studio romantic comedy, meanwhile? All but extinct! Recent flops like “This Means War,” “Take Me Home Tonight” and Kate Hudson's last 17 movies all speak to this.
So what does the death of the rom-com mean? Certainly an increase in irony has helped to drive a stake through the genre's traditionally unabashed earnestness, and a rise in feminist critiques — much of it fueled by online culture — has also certainly been a factor in tearing down the sexist tropes that dominated the genre well into the noughties. Mostly, I think we just got tired of living the baby boomer fantasy of ideal romantic love, propagated in large part by the society's unprogressive cultural expectations regarding gender roles.
Look, don't get me wrong. Some of these movies were good! “When Harry Met Sally…” (the film that arguably started it all), “Sleepless in Seattle” and “My Best Friend's Wedding” are just a few notable examples of quality rom-coms. But mostly, I say good riddance to the fantasy. As I do, journey back with me one last time through 11 of the worst, most offensive cliches of the moribund genre.