There was a time when I loved watching a good romantic comedy. They usually made for a light-hearted watch, with mushy moments and mostly, a happy ending.
However, over the years, there are only a few romantic comedies and dramas that have earned a spot on my list of everlasting romances.
And that's primarily because of how repetitive romantic comedies have become, with the same tropes recycled year after year.
And even if you add coming-of-age, female friendship, or another 'trending' topic to the mix, these romantic comedies still rely on tropes that we could do well away with:
1. The physical transformation
For years romantic comedies have shown that a woman's physical transformation is necessary for her to find love. So what if all that is done in the name of the said transformation is remove glasses?
The 'ugly duckling' transformation was never a good idea, and it's high time both, Bollywood and Hollywood, let this sink.
2. The grand gesture as a declaration of love or worse, an apology.
What is it about grand gestures that make filmmakers forget about things like curfews, rules, or any resemblance of authority, whatsoever?
To be fair, yes, in some cases these grand gestures are met with logical responses i.e. detention, grounding, etc. But mostly a single gesture absolves the person of all the blame. And there is no evidence to show if the person has actually learned from the mistake or not.
I mean, Bunny missed a flight, but did he evolve from a man-child into a man? Guess we'll never know.
3. Token LGBTQ+ representation.
In an attempt to be more 'inclusive', creators started including characters from the LGBTQ+ community. But inclusion does not equal representation if all you're doing is perpetuating the same old, stereotypes.
Like the fact that gays love drama and fashion, and you always need a 'gay best friend' to give you advice. And all lesbians have a bad fashion sense and badass attitude.
And whatever happened to all the other members of the LGBTQ+ community? Who cares, right? Yes, it's heartening to see LGBTQ+ characters make it to mainstream cinema, but let's also provide them with a better character arc? Or at least different personality traits.
4. Nerds aren't cool, jocks aren't loyal, and social cliques are a reality.
Not every person who loves sports and is physically fit is bad at academics. Not every kid who is great at academics has a shy personality. People are not defined by singular traits, and it's unfair that we box vibrant human beings, especially teenagers, into neat little boxes when in real life, we are anything but unidimensional.
5. Love Triangles in which the 'nice guy' almost always ends up losing.
From Kuch Kuch Hota Hai to To All The Boys, nice guys have been 'finishing last'. Why? That's all I need to know. Why not show nice guys have happy endings?
6. Women are rehabilitation centers for men.
Why is it always the woman who 'teaches' the man to grow up and become a better person? At least in Failure To Launch, they made the woman earn actual money for these efforts!
On the other hand, men teach women happiness. Men can't give women orgasms, but sure, they can teach us how to be happy.
Can we not have romances between people who are at the same maturity level, emotionally and professionally? Or just give us more same-sex love stories.
7. Female rivalry
Women are not instantly struck by deep jealousy on seeing another woman. And the idea that women fight, that too over men, has been a constant of movie plots for years and continues to be in practice. Despite there being several beautiful, wonderful, real-life examples of the bond of sisterhood.
We don't just want special movies on female friendships. We also want sisterhood to become a normal part of all movie genres, but especially romantic comedies.
8. Over-simplification of issues like sexual assault, mental health problems, etc.
It took years to normalize conversations around sexual assault and mental health. But loud proclamations and confessions of sexual assault don't go hand-in-hand because not many people are likely to relive their trauma in this manner.
Similarly, mental health issues don't just resolve when you fall in love. It's great that we are bringing such issues to light. But it's also important to not simplify them to the point where people misunderstand the subject altogether.
9. The supporting character whose sole purpose is to give advice.
This character can be the chauffeur or the cool English teacher, the mysterious janitor, or a lady from an 'exotic culture'. But ultimately, their only purpose is to offer life-changing advice to the main lead.
If only there was an 'Advise R U' shop where we too could find life-altering advice, things would be so different.
Let's put these tropes to rest, once and for all, shall we?