This week, we read a great article over at Vulture on the state of the romantic comedy — or more specifically, its rapid decline in recent years. In the article, studio execs and directors throw around possible reasonings (they don’t have enough production values to justify a big-screen viewing, we just don’t care about love as much anymore), but as Vulture’s Claude Brodesser-Akner pointed out, “though the genre is suffering at the box office, it is hard to believe that the very idea of a romantic comedy is completely losing favor. After all, what are sitcoms’ “will-they-won’t-they” arcs other than long romantic comedies?” Indeed.
In fact, while there have always been “rom-com” sitcoms (Mad About You, Friends), we feel like we’ve seen an uptick in both the number and quality in recent years. We also tend to care about characters in TV shows more than we do for their film counterparts — after all, when you spend time with the same characters week after week, over months or years, you tend to be more invested in their exploits. After the jump, we take a look at a few TV shows that could be replacing our need to see romantic comedies in the theaters. Do you agree, or do you think that despite the current rocky ground, traditional rom-coms will always have a place in our hearts?
How I Met Your Mother
HIMYM is the ultimate rom-com in many ways — the whole premise is a search for true love, with what’s now approaching nine seasons of bumpy road in between. We know that more than one set of the characters are “destined” to be together and it’s all a mad scramble for them to overcome their own egos and the extenuating circumstances so that they can all (including dear hapless, continually overshadowed Ted) get married.
It’s the classic Cinderella story, set at a Fashion magazine, and with a hell of a lot more twists and turns. Poor, frumpy, ugly Betty turns into a beautiful princess, gets the guy and has all her dreams come true — and all in four seasons! Hey, that’s a lot more quickly than most of us do it.
The Big Bang Theory
Nerd meets girl. Nerd loses girl. Nerd gets girl again. There is a charming cast of bonkers friends. Repeat. Thankfully, this show has moved slightly away from this storyline in recent seasons — well, Leonard and Penny’s on-again-off-again thing is still going strong, but we’re just not asked to care as much about it. More Sheldon, please.
To us, this is a rom-com-dram (that’s a romantic comedy/drama, in case we weren’t clear), though we’re not sure if it’s all as funny to the British audience for which it was intended (or is it more so?). Either way, this elegant soap opera has more romantic intrigue, peeking around corners, and delightful quips than we could ever get from a single period piece. It’s like a rom-com you don’t have to be ashamed of and can watch for hours — paradise.
Parks and Recreation
This show didn’t exactly start off as a romantic comedy, but with Leslie and Ben’s romance, it happily snuggled into that zone. And if Leslie and Ben’s relationship had been a movie, it might have been one of the best ones we’d ever seen. The pair is too settled to cause much fuss at this point (barring major drama time), so we’ll just have to see what happens next.
So far, this show is more com than rom, which is a good thing in our books. In fact, we’re pretty impressed with its restraint: in a less interesting show — or in a boilerplate romantic comedy — Jess and Nick would have already gotten together (at the end of Season One, when they had that little moment), broken up, and currently be sniping/pining. Even if that is the eventual goal, we’re glad this show is taking its time.
No matter how you feel about it, Scrubs was a decade-long romantic comedy. On the first day, J.D. likes Elliot and Turk likes Carla. Hijinks, break ups, miscommunications and songs about poo ensure. In the end, everybody’s married. It’s sort of sweet and satisfying, in a way.
Though it’s gone sadly downhill, for a while there Glee was the answer to our every rom-com urge — and with songs to boot. Teenagers in love, or maybe not in love, singing love songs or pump up songs to each other. Adults who couldn’t get it together either. And a shiny trophy/social acceptance at the end of the rainbow. If only they had known when to call it quits.