Could Amy Schumer’s new movie revive the rom-com genre the way we need it to?

Hollywood has struggled to keep the rom-com afloat in recent years even when they discovered the new key to their success. We saw with Bridesmaids what could happen at the box office when rather than love conquering all, Hollywood just told a realistic story (where romance wasn’t the central focus) and allowed women in the film to be funny.  For some reason it wasn’t enough to open the flood gates to this “revelation”; for some reason the idea of unfunny women and no one wanting to watch them persisted, when funny women and their own stories is the one thing that could save the genre.

Thankfully, we’ll be getting another dose of that brilliance with new film,Trainwreck, written and starring Amy Schumer, and directed by Judd Apatow (it’s also produced by two thirds of the same production team as Bridesmaids, Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel). It’s about a grown and successful woman (named Amy) who has pursued a life “free from stifling, boring romantic commitment”, but who may in fact be ready for the boring romantic commitment upon meeting sports doctor Aaron through work. At first glance it could be a “boy meets girl, blah blah blah” story, but in reality it’s using that as the smoke and mirrors to tell you the real story; the story of Amy growing up. It’s subtly shifted the focus to a storyline not just women, but adult humans, can relate to.

Because of the genre they live in, the rom-coms and chick flicks tend to make the relationship the sole focus of drama for plot – inadvertently showing us exactly the kind of relationships we don’t want in our real lives, but still painting them as the ideal. On top of that, the times Hollywood has attempted to portray the “complications of modern relationships” in a romantic-comedy in the last decade, they’ve slipped back into outdated ideas of love and relationships.

The majority of the rom-com films (that people actually watched) of the last five years, while dipping their toes into how adults interact with each other romantically in the 21st Century, can’t seem to go the whole way. For all the Friends With Benefits, No Strings Attached, and the He’s Just Not That Into You self-help revelations they explore they tend to always end up reverting to same tropes of grand gestures and love surmounting all problems in the last 20 minutes.

In Friends With Benefits JT hosts a flash mob dance to win the Mila Kunis at the end, in No Strings Attached there’s a confrontation and confession of love between Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, in He’s Just Not That Into You – the adaptation of the book that seemed to want to change our unrealistic expectations – Alex declares his love for Gigi, claiming she’s the exception to the HJNTIR rules, completely ignoring the title of the film in the closing credits.

It’s a problem because as much as people are loathe to admit it, these stories do condition us into a certain way of thinking, they do want us to put ourselves in the lead characters shoes, and we do come to unconsciously want to buy what they’re selling. And those grand gestures and the power of love stories, usually have an undercurrent of something else.

Katie Willert sums up the danger of the grand gesture, for example, in Cracked’s great After Hours vodcast:

“We’re creating an entire generation of Ted Moseby’s who think that chasing a woman is the same as getting to know her, and that unsolicited, unreciprocated romantic gestures earn you points that will some day be traded in for sex.”

So here’s hoping Trainwreck is a few more snowflakes on that snowball of moving away from these kind of outdated, mind-numbing stories of relationship drama for drama’s sake. And that rather than for offering films like it and Bridesmaids for limited time only, we get them on the regular menu, please.

Originally published 12 February 2015 on

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