What makes Romcoms so Addictive?

Romantic comedies or Romcoms ,are a mix of romance and comedy. In these films, the end product turns out to be a light-hearted romance between two people. Hollywood’s age-old trope of romance is evident in most of them. Starting from the larger than real-life love stories to the passionate romance between the protagonists, Romcoms are known to be misleading. But why are we, as an audience so addicted to them? Why do Romcoms shape our understanding of romance even though they are only films? The answer is simpler than you would believe. It is – the desire of our hearts. Of course, needs and desires are subjective. However, the yearning of a love story which breaks all barriers is an inclination. One which even the toughest of hearts have a hard time resisting. To break it down, here are the 6 reasons why romcoms are so addictive.

Related: Top 30 Romantic Comedies.

1. The Meet Cute 

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor in To All The Boys I've Loved Before (2018)
Source: Netflix

Like any other movie, the main characters have to meet. And, romcom meet-cutes have a special charm altogether. A meet-cute is that moment in the film where the two main protagonists have their first moment of meeting each other in a sudden encounter. The most important element of a meet-cute is that the moment has to be something out of the ordinary. A good example would be the meeting of Lara-Jean(Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky(Noah Centineo) from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018). The formula of a meet-cute is very simple, yet impactful.

Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually (2003)
Source: Universal Pictures

The audience has to relate to it somehow, so one of the characters(or both) have to have an awkward reaction to the “accidental” meet. In Love Actually (2003) when Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) meets the newly elected Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), her awkward demeanour along with the unintentional use of profanity makes this meet-cute extremely relatable and cute.

Related: Netflix Originals Rom-coms of 2019 ranked from Best to Worst

2. The Unattainable Hero/Heroine of Romcoms

Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in Notting Hill (1999)
Source: Universal Pictures

A widely used formula in romcoms are the extremely unattainable love interests. In Notting Hill(1999), Anna Scott(Julia Roberts) is a famous high-profile actress who becomes the love interest of William Thacker(Hugh Grant), a working-class bookshop owner. The jarring difference in their social standings is the main plot point of the entire movie. Realistically, a love story like that is quite nearly an impossible one. Another example of this would be the pairing up of highschool teenagers from two different cliques. The famous highschool jock falling for the awkward teenager is definitely cliché but it works in these movies. It also gives the viewer the hope of having the perfect love story where their love interest likes them back.  

3. The Quirky/Relatable Character

Kristen Stewart in Twilight (2008)
Source: Summit Entertainment

To be addictive and worth a watch, movies have to be close to the viewer’s hearts. For this to be successful the characters have to be somewhat similar to the viewer. The character trait of the awkward self-conscious teenager is extremely relatable to most of the viewers. This is exactly where romcoms win in dragging in the audience’s attention. How many of us haven’t looked at Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) from Twilight(2008) and wanted to be her?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zoey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer (2009)
Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

The “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” (MPDG) is another trope often used to make a rom-com seem different. The term MPDG is simply used to describe a woman who is very bubbly, quirky and outgoing by nature. Summer (Zoey Deschanel) from 500 Days of Summer (2009) would be a good example of that.

4. The “Soulmate” Syndrome in Romcoms

John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale in Serendipity (2001)
Source: Miramax Films

Romantic comedies wouldn’t be the same without the soulmate syndrome. These movies are designed around the idea of two people belonging together till death. Everyone does not necessarily believe in soulmates. But, romcoms have a way to make you believe as if your high school crush is the love of your life or the guy you met at the grocery store who smiled at you is the man you spend your life with. Serendipity(2001) is completely based on the format of finding your soulmate through all the hurdles in your life. What this does is successfully make us want to believe that a soulmate exists for each of us.

5. Climax and Argument

Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden in Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Source: Focus Features

Even though romcoms are movies, they have to be realistic enough for the viewers to compare it with their lives. Any kind of relationship has arguments and for movies, these life-altering arguments usually take place in the form of the main climax. Romantic comedies are fuelled by arguments between the main characters, most of which result in the revelation of their feelings. The common theme around these climaxes is passion,and these scenes are full of passion and rage. Pride and Prejudice (2005) has a very famous “Rain” scene where Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) and Mr Darcy (Matthew Macfayden) are in conflict with each other and their feelings. There is nothing like the conflict of the heart paired with the conflict of the couple. Romantic comedies often use this to be a comedy relief as well but all in all these climaxes make the viewers want to watch it even more.

6. The Larger than real-life romance

Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Source: Buena Vista Pictures

If you ask a rom-com lover why they choose to watch this specific genre of movies, their answer would be “for the romance”. If there is anything unrealistic about romcoms, it is the larger than real-life romances. The way people serenade one another, the passionate way of confessing their love and the cute dates set everyone’s expectations higher than necessary. One of the most famous scenes of 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is the one where Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) runs along the bleachers, singing “Can’t take my eyes off of you” in an attempt to serenade Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles). Even though something like that happening is quite unlikely in real life, it still makes us want these grand gestures.

Of course, viewers do have the ability to differentiate between real life and reel life but it still does not make us want a grand romance any less. After all, who would not want to have a love story like Patrick and Kat from 10 Things I Hate About You(1999) or want Llyod from Say Anything(1989) holding a boombox outside our window?