It always happens this way.

I’m wandering along, content with my life, when I happen across a romantic comedy on tv and I, being the slow learner that I am at times, sit down to watch it because gee, I could really use a laugh.

And before I know it, I’m crying instead of laughing and there isn’t enough chocolate and beer in the house to cure me of the RomCom blues.

It’s my fault, really. Each and every time. I should know better by now. Almost twenty-nine years of constant romantic disappointment should have taught me to scroll past the romantic comedies and settle on something decidedly British and sarcastic.

But no.

I select 27 Dresses or Two Weeks Notice or Sleepless in Seattle and I sit still for two hours and by the end of it I’m no longer content but am instead distressed and moving quickly into melancholy.

The big joke in psychology is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results each time. Haha. Hoho. Hilarious. I am, in this instance, by definition, insane and I’ll tell you why. I watch these movies expecting to not feel the tug of loneliness in my chest, to not experience the want for something unreal and available only in scripted plots, but by the time the credits roll I’m a mess of doubt and desire and crankiness.

Oh, the crankiness.

Nothing leaves me crankier than a damned romantic comedy. I’ll never have an apartment like hers, or a closet full of clothes like that, and I’ll never just accidentally bump into the hot guy in town with a tough exterior and a heart of gold. It’s like walking into Anthropologie without my credit cards and being forced to try clothes on that not only fit, but look amazing. It’s cruel.

I want a movie where the ending isn’t necessarily happiness and rainbows, where the leads understand each others faults and fall in love in spite of them, where the closets are full of clothes from Target and the lighting is never soft and perfect.

I want a life that works that way, where I’m not constantly left standing on a metaphorical curb while my romantic lead drives away into the sunset with someone else. [Sorry. That was melancholy.] Most of all, I want to stop whining when that happens, because it has happened and it will happen again.

Maybe. If I ever decide to date again.

Two months into that, by the way. Two months sans the awkward hellos and stress of finding the perfect thing to wear that doesn’t make me look fat. So far, so good. I’m vaguely content; not quite happy but not unhappy, either. I’ve fielded a few questions from confused friends, mostly the same question over and over again: But why? I’m often tempted to answer with the most childish response I can think of: Because. That’s why.

May was easy. June was…not. You’ll notice I didn’t post during June…and while I apologize for that, I’ve decided to just leave it be. I do, however, have high hopes for July, despite its beginnings. And then there’s August. Looming in the summer shadows, waiting for me. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to better explain my experiment to my confused friends, or at the very least come up with a slightly more mature answer.

Most of all, though, I’m going to stop watching romantic comedies. No more Hugh Grants and Colin Firths and their dashing good looks that make the ladies swoon. No more Kate Winslets and Cameron Diazes, whose characters I identify with far too often. I’m giving them up.

Now will someone please remind me of that the next time they see either The Holiday or Bridget Jones’ Diary playing on tv? Thanks ever so much.

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Putting aside her commitment to the National Ninja Association, this young, bright and talented author has finally come out of hiding. She currently exhausts her brain capacity working for government, but spends many afternoons dreaming up new ideas for her incredibly blasphemous novel, The Absolutely, Positively, True Adventures of a Religious Prophet, while keeping her typing fingers limber. She can be reached here on the comment board or over at her blog, The Unbelievable Adventures of Claire Elizabeth Rogers.

38 responses to “They Should Outlaw Romantic Comedies…Like, Now”

  1. Debbie says:

    Agreed, they should outlaw romantic comedies. Life is not like the movies and definitely does not always have a happy ending. I’m sticking with action flicks, horror movies or dark comedies.

  2. Matt says:

    I HATE romcoms. Loathe them utterly, for reasons too vitriolic to go into here with any measure of civility. And I can’t even think of the last one I saw; my last girlfriend, mercifully, hated them almost as much as I do.

    They embody convention. Celebrate mediocrity and lack of innovative storytelling. And provide a venue for Katherine Heigl to continue drawing a paycheck.

    This is why most of my favorite films of lat ehave been either foreign or low-budget indies. I think the closest I’ve come to a romcom lately has been either Eagle vs. Shark or An Education.

    • Meg says:

      I suppose the only romantic comedy I can stomach is Amelie. And I think it’s because it’s in French. And there’s a gnome. It’s been on Encore repeatedly lately and I never get sick of it.

      • Meg says:

        I forgot to mention Charade. Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, espionage, duplicities, romance, and some of the funniest dialogue I’ve ever heard.

  3. Cynthia Hawkins says:

    No more Colin Firth! Noooooooo! There must be enough beer and chocolate fortification left in the world to keep Mr. Firth around.

    • Meg says:

      Hmmm…you may be right. I suppose I’ll have to keep an emergency stock of beer and chocolate, just for those all important Firth moments. Like a 6 hour Pride & Prejudice fix. 🙂

  4. Judy Prince says:

    Yep, you got to the heart of it, Meghan. You put your finger on the feeling soooo well: “It’s like walking into Anthropologie without my credit cards and being forced to try clothes on that not only fit, but look amazing.”

    Over a period of 12 years, I’ve written several short plays—-and am continually surprised that they’re romantic comedies. I hadn’t started out to write romcoms; quite the contrary. But the characters and plots showed up, soooo eager and ready. ‘Supwidat? How could it be? Even more surprising is that after years of writing them, I’ve ended up *living* a romantic comedy. Does this mean I was somehow psychically preparing myself? That my creations were pre-sentiments for what was to come?

    I dunno. But look out, Meghan: P’raps watching romcoms will lead to your living one, too.

    Oh, I should say that even living in a real romcom, I’m still not immune to the “stress of finding the perfect thing to wear that doesn’t make me look fat.”

    • Meg says:

      Should my life decide to follow the plot line of a romantic comedy, I’d prefer Amelie’s. Gorgeous lighting, silliness waiting in the wings, and a roaming gnome. Plus a man with a spectacularly old motorbike and a penchant for stealing photo booth photos.

      Congrats on yours, though! Any particular format or a new breed all its own? 🙂

      • Judy Prince says:

        Meg, thanks for the tip about _Amelie_. I’m eager to see it. I’m with you, too, on _Charade_, and Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

        Re my romantic comedy plays, they’re slightly weird, quirky, and OTT, each one quite different from the others.

        My favourite contemporary comedy playwrights are David Ives and Christopher Durang. And I get a kick out of some of David Mamet’s works. All of these authors’ plays require excellent acting and directing, or the humour’s aborted from the git. Frustratingly, the film versions often fail dramatically, even if they’re faithful to the text.

  5. It’s all gone downhill since Annie Hall.

  6. Tom Hansen says:

    Yes! And they should outlaw movies with more than .07% CGI too

  7. Tony DuShane says:

    your novel in your bio sounds like lots of fun….especially since mine had similar themes.

    so, without dating, does that include random hook ups? no sex?

    i’m new to the single life, so gathering information and jumping in this murky pool myself. i have found sex first, then dating works a lot better than preparing for an actual date. but that has only happened a couple of times.

    have you seen ‘2 days in paris’? a great romcom that’s very real. it always makes me tear up.

    my other guilty pleasure is kevin kline and meg ryan in ‘french kiss’.

    i think there’s a pattern there of cynical men that i connect with. regarding the hugh grants, tom hanks, etc., watching those films, i’d rather get kicked in the balls and feel like puking for 15 minutes than lose 90 minutes in that storyline.

    how far are you on your novel?

    • Meg says:

      No sex, no random hook-ups, no men at all. Like an extended version of Lent, but without the religious undertones.

      French Kiss was lovely, but in a lot of ways the romance is between Kevin Kline and the grape tree. Meg Ryan is just an added bonus for him. 🙂

      I’m finished draft 2 and currently working on draft 3. My hope is to have it finished by October and start shopping around. Hopefully it goes well! How about you? Is yours finished and ready for publication?

      • Tony DuShane says:

        wow, you go girl.

        ‘confessions of a teenage jesus jerk’ was published by soft skull earlier this year, http://www.tonydushane.com.

        working on my second novel and a couple of other writing projects. hoping the novel will be ready to show to my agent by fall.

        i’m actually looking for my 2 days in paris dvd to watch right now. 🙂

        • Meg says:

          Nice! Congrats on the published product!

          I just finished The Avengers movie (horrible) and have started The Frisco Kid. I <3 Gene Wilder. 🙂

  8. Mo says:

    All the more reason to just watch Hitchcock films. 😉

  9. Matt says:

    May I suggest, “Lars and the Real Girl”. It’s funny and romantic in a bizarre sorta way.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1XxILVnt1w

  10. Jess says:

    The rest of July will be better, and August will be amazing :o)

    Romantic comedies are evil. I think they make even happy people wish for something that’s not entirely tangible.

  11. Teagan says:

    Watching the first hour of Definitely, Maybe gave me fleeting hope that romantic comedies were getting smarter, not only about the entire premise/framework, but being mindful about the people watching and learning social cues that aren’t healthy or helpful. Or real. Both men and women, each are learning in equal measure that they can’t live up to the ‘reality’ is being presented, as either the creator or recipient of that special brand of movie-only relationship magic. Sprinkle that with Ryan Reynold’s devastatingly genuine charm and it’s a heartbreak in the making, no existing relationship required.

    It’s like walking into Anthropologie without my credit cards and being forced to try clothes on that not only fit, but look amazing. It’s cruel.

    Reading that paragraph made me feel like a Canadian, stuck in a country without Anthropologie.

    • Meg says:

      I can always count on you for the anthropological standpoint of a comedic and romantic issue. You’re like my Bones, but you have feelings. 🙂

      And be glad you don’t have access to Anthropologie – that shit is expensive. Seriously.

      • Teagan says:

        I could be more like Bones if I had her ‘funky culturally appropriate earrings’ budget, for which I would probably need an Anthropologie. And a David Boreanaz. Oh god the trap is everywhere!

        • Meg says:

          All you need for those funky culturally appropriate earrings is a department store. Trust me. Or a Forever 21. Or a kiosk in a mall…

          There should be a mall kiosk for David Boreanazes…but only the non-cheating ones.

  12. Matt says:

    Romantic Comedies make me feel wierd. It isn’t sadness or hope, loneliness or love… it’s awkward embarassment. Without a doubt, at some point in these films one of the lovers does something incredibly embarassing or stupid, or both. I am left cringing as if someone ran their nails across a blackboard. I hate it to such a point I usually scream and cover my eyes. I than remember why I hate romantic comedies and at that point lose all interest in the film. That is when I don’t stop talking if i am with others or change the channel if by myself, usually the former because I wouldn’t put such a movie on to begin with.

    Love is overrated. I just want the tax break. Wanna get hitched? Neither one of us have nothing to worry about.

    • Meg says:

      I had no idea they made you feel weird. The things you learn on TNB. 🙂 And yes, love is overrated. I’m available in November for hitching. We can “honeymoon” in Greece – something nice available for the both of us, I’m sure. 😀

    • Meg says:

      P.S. Best. Proposal. Ever.

  13. DC in DC says:

    Stick to your guns, it’s all good. I’m in a similar rut that way – kind of wishing someone/something way there, but abstaining as I’m working on getting myself together and self-improvement and such – except romantic comedies aren’t the cruel temptation, it’s usually catching a rerun of Community and seeing Alison Brie in something low-cut. Oh, guys… we so crazy.

    But I know the feeling I guess in the point I’m making in the most roundabout way possible. So you aren’t alone.

  14. im just like you in this subject and i think you should deffinetly consider watching 5oo days of summer its a romantic comedy yes but not a traditional one

    • Meg says:

      I’ve seen it and really enjoyed it, which surprised me. What I liked about it most was that it isn’t a traditional happy ending and it shows the ups and downs of a relationship instead of just the ups. And I love Joseph Gordon Levitt – have since 3rd Rock from the Sun. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!!

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