What is a romantic comedy?

What is a romantic comedy

Some people enjoy horror films while others are magnetically attracted to psychological thrillers. The older set may enjoy westerns, with their cowboys and Indians, though a certain viewer type prefers slapstick humor.

Many women like to watch “chick flick” films, often of the romantic comedy variety. More than a love story, rom-com as it is known in the film industry offers an amusing plot with endearing romantic encounters and the potential for a tear-jerking sideline, though all turns out well at the end.

The following characteristics may help you enjoy a favorite rom-com, even more, the next time you watch one, whether at home or at the theater.

  1. Boy and girl meet. The two lead roles are a man and woman who, against the odds, stumble across each other’s path. They may meet through a blind date, a car accident, a hospital visit, or any number of unlikely scenarios. One or both may have other partners and neither may be looking for love. A third party may introduce them, they may find each other in a group, or they may meet on their own as individuals. The important thing is that they end up face to face or at least in touch somehow.
  2. Conflicts ensue. In many films, the pair are all wrong for each other. One may be sloppy and the other tidy, a la Oscar and Felix. Or one may be wealthy while the other is a blue-collar worker. They may hold opposing political or social views. Whatever their roles, the two hardly seem destined to meet, so when they do, fireworks erupt, but not initially in the romantic sense. But if they do tumble into a quick romance, it is quickly interrupted by a real or potential obstacle.
  3. “The look.” Either at their meeting point or during a change in one or the other’s character or circumstances, the pair exchange a “look,” a lingering, smoldering melding of glances that captivate each other (and the audience) for at least a few seconds. Viewers know, even if the characters in the film do not, that the couple will end up together. That keeps us going through the rest of the film as we cheer shared kisses and hiss disruptive past girlfriends or boyfriends.
  4. Confidantes. One or both of the pairs have a sidekick in whom they confide their deepest secrets, thus letting the audience in on possible threats and secrets before the other lover knows. Sidekicks allow the main characters to share thoughts, feelings, and problems to familiarize viewers with internal conflict and contributing to the building tension.
  5. Threats, obstacles, or bad guys. Something or someone will separate the lovers for a time. The audience may fear a permanent break-up for part of the film. Problems range from a past life, secret job, identity switch, or misperceptions based on distrust and suspicion. Parents, children, ex-spouses, and co-workers may take the role of a potential or real obstacle for a time.

Eventually, however, the starring lovers will find and claim each other permanently. That is what life, and love, is all about, right? So that’s why we keep popping in those rom-com videos, even when we know how they’re going to end because we all keep hoping for a happy ending in real life.


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