Thoughts On Romantic Comedies.

With it being Valentine's Day, I thought of the perfect topic of discussion: How relationships always fail because guys suck. Cheerful, no?

There are many reasons why males don’t often like to see chick flicks/romantic comedies. Personally, I like a good romantic comedy. I have no problems with the romance aspect of it, and they can be pretty funny. But something I’ve begun to notice (call me slow, if you will) is that there is one major trend in all romantic comedies: the guy is always wrong. He’s always a jerk. He’s always the one to screw everything up. He’s always the one who has to come crawling back to redeem himself.

Just looking at more recent films, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Break-Up start off with a break up because the woman feels underappreciated by the guy; The relationships in Shaun of the Dead and Knocked Up fail because the guys are losers afraid to grow up; The main characters in Hitch and My Best Friend’s Girl are womanizers; She’s All That and 10 Things I Hate About You have a guy who falls in love with a girl he makes a bet on. Hell, even The Princess Bride would never have happened if they guy hadn’t left his love and ‘died’.

I’m not trying to be misogynistic or anything, but females do screw up in real-life relationships, too. Sometimes the guy isn’t even at fault for what happens. But you never see that in film. In fact, the only time you ever do see a woman at fault in a relationship, it’s somebody like Isla Fisher in Wedding Crashers who is just clingy to the point of terrifying—the over-the-top female. But even then, the guy is still partially at fault just because of the nature of the movie.

The closest I’ve ever come to seeing a movie where the female is more at fault than the male in the leading relationship was in How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. Kate Hudson is writing an article about everything she can do to break up with a guy in 10 days. Matthew McConaughey is a guy who makes a bet (seems to be a really common plot device, huh?) that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. Clearly the woman is more of a jerk in the situation, but the guy is still at fault for making a sleazy bet to begin with. Juno would be another one, because outside of getting her pregnant and asking another girl out (under Juno’s request), Michael Cera’s Paulie Bleeker didn’t really do anything wrong. Yet the movie still skews it to where the male is still at least partially to blame (he should have read between the lines).

Now maybe one exists out there and I just haven’t seen it. But I’d really like to see a romantic comedy one day where the roles change and the guy is actually blameless and it’s the woman who has to come back apologizing. I know these are typically marketed for women, and women don’t want to see movies where they screw up (heaven forbid), but they are also made with the knowledge that girlfriends and wives will drag their (usually unwilling) boyfriends and husbands to see the film, as well.

After all, in the end, what does the theme of ‘the guy is a jerk and the woman eventually takes him back’ really doing? It’s setting a standard for women that, if your guy treats you like crap, you should always take him back. Well, if you’re gonna freak with the feminine mind, you might as well have equal time and freak with the masculine mind, as well. Let men know it’s okay to accept the faults of females and be forgiving. Don’t just tell us how much we suck.



  1. You make an incredibly valid point. I would love to see an effortful romantic comedy where the woman is a true antagonist. (In fact, I'd prefer it if it was more serious comedy. Something along the lines of a Coen Brothers movie to an extent.) I guess we'll just have to keep hoping.

  2. Nice post, and good evaluation. I'm the same way, I like a chick flick, there I said it. But you are right, the guy is always to blame, and what makes it worse is that girls in real life think these movies are real and expect guys to do the outlandish gestures to win them back. Of course in the real world there is more involved than the movie obviously shows. girls need to realize that.

  3. Two examples where the woman is more at fault:

    My Best Friends Wedding is a more traditional romcom. The girl goes out with the guy, then dumps him, then wants him back when he is finally happy and tries to stop his wedding. And she fails.

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is much less traditional, but still centers on relationships and has comedy in it. And Clem was a completely eccentric, high maintenance nutcase that Joel just couldn't keep up with anymore. She broke his heart by getting her memory erased.

    That's all I got right now, but that's a great and valid post, Nick.

  4. Rachel: Haven't seen 'My best friend's wedding', but even from your description it sounds like a guy is at fault ("she goes back to him when he's finally happy"). There still seems to be fault with the guy. But again, I haven't seen it.

    Though I have to disagree with you on Eternal Sunshine. This is another example of a 'both wrong' scenario. Yes, Clem was super eccentric and a total nut, but the movie paints Jim Carrey just as in the fault in his own ways.

    Though you did say the woman is 'more at fault'... so I'll give you that. I just want a movie where the guy isn't at fault at all :P . After all, there are plenty of movies out there where the woman is totally in the clear.

  5. Isn't this because the writers and filmmakers know their audience, mostly? If it's filled with women, wouldn't they rather hear that men suck than that they do?

    Not that I disagree with you, but I'd think that plays a big part in the 'why.'

  6. I love romantic comedies and you are right they are usually not nice the men in them. I’m trying to think of some that are not that way. Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore, I believe would be one where the man is blameless. Actually, all of her movies seem to be fair with the male leads. Ever After, I think both of them are flawed. Home Fries, Barrymore is a woman who ends up pregnant with a married man’s child. Hmm, there is 27 Dresses, Katherine Heigl, is definitely flawed in that. Oh yeah, she even does the whole run to the guy and apologize thing if I’m remembering correctly.

    For me I wonder why comedy has to be connected with romance. True romance movies are rare these days. The last one I can think of is The Notebook.


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