Rom-Coms: The Iconic Crush of Cinema


Noelle Wu

Netflix’s selection of some of the most beloved romantic comedies.

Noelle Wu, Photojournalist

Romantic comedies, better known as rom-coms, are easily a favorite genre, especially among the current young adult and teen generation. The cheesy awkward scenes, charming meet cutes, and sappy romance makes for a comforting night in or a swoon worthy excursion to the cinema. While these phenomena seem like a modern conception, the romantic comedy genre dates back to the earliest forms of storytelling in Ancient Greece. Being a survivor through the thick and thin of cinematic history, the survival and revival of rom-coms prompts the question of what really makes rom-coms so appealing. 

To begin, rom-coms tend to feature normal people doing regular occurrences. A meet cute, for instance, may occur in a local coffee shop initiated by a coffee spill due to a collision with the two main characters. The foundations and plot of romantic comedies follow a simple story line – realism and authenticity shines significantly through this genre. Yet, the realistic circumstances don’t need to be stretched and exaggerated for the story to be stimulating. Instead, there are subtle touches to complete romantic comedies that combine the normality of a character with “Hollywood magic”. This balance allows rom-coms to be “grounded in reality”, but also keep an engaging story for the audience. Hollywood magic is applied when the most mundane of occurrences are transformed into the protagonist’s discovery of their forever soulmate. The “sit back and relax” feel also appeals to a wide range of viewers while genres such as horror, adventure, and fantasy may have you on the edge of your seat. While there are some viewers that are palatable for thrill and chill, it often takes more to muster up the capability to watch movies in these few genres regularly.  “Rom-coms are so enjoyable to watch because you can just turn them on at any time,” Savannah Cheng (9) avows, “the plots are simple and swoon worthy, making them the perfect comfort movies.” Rom-coms do not usually have world building or heart racing scenes, but instead have scenes to gush about and swoon over, making the watch easy and stress free.

“Rom-coms are so enjoyable to watch because you can just turn them on at any time – the plots are simple and swoon worthy, making them the perfect comfort movies.”

— Savannah Cheng (9)

The popularity of rom-coms peaked in the 1990s and was even considered to be a box-office contender. Rom-coms accounted for three of the top twenty highest-grossing films in 1998 and 1999, consecutively. Films like Clueless, She’s All That, 10 Things I Hate About You, While You Were Sleeping, You’ve Got Mail, Notting Hill, and more topped the charts. However, the 2000s came around and the once beloved genre gradually fizzled out – the genre was almost “replaced” with action films packed with CGI, as well as horror films with several horror franchises showing great success. Even though there were many iconic rom-coms made in the early 2000s such as How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 13 Going on 30, The Princess Diaries, and Mean Girls to name a few, the publicity that the genre received eventually died out. The demand for rom-coms were decreasing, so eventually the supply decreased as well. Now, rom-coms have made a comeback and have been revived in recent movie franchises, as well as the genre being heavily promoted on streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, and more. Teen rom-coms such as The Kissing Booth and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before have propelled this revival, and other rom-coms such as Crazy Rich Asians and Always Be My Maybe have brought back the genre’s popularity.

In the next few years, the rom-com genre will continue to be a favorite and hold a steady place in the immense world of cinema.