The Romantic Comedy Spectrum: A Reading List

Seems like the first movie I ever watched was a romance. It was a Disney movie; obviously, there’s a tortured love and a singalong. The most recent film I’ve seen, Trainwreck, is also a romance. What I’m interested in: the boundaries of the romantic comedy. Romantic comedies can be teen dreams (Clueless), homages to Shakespeare (She’s The Man), stunt-filled action romps (Mr. and Mrs. Smith), or cruel tearjerkers (P.S. I Love You). I’ve been inspired by romantic comedies before to Get My Shit Together, and I think that’s really cool. They can be timeless or comforting or really terrible, or all three. Romantic comedies—the best of them—allow us to project and to process. Here, I’ve collected a handful of stories centering on the creators and aficionados of the romantic comedy.

1. “Not-So-Guilty-Pleasures: Romantic Comedies.” (Roxane Gay, The Toast, August 2013)

Gaping plot holes are mandatory in order to believe the lie of a romantic comedy. When the plot is solid, the movie experience becomes uncomfortable because you are not distracted by the plot discontinuities. You are forced to dwell on how impossible and absurd these movies make love out to be.

2. “In Trainwreck, Amy Schumer Calls Bullshit on Postfeminism.” (Anne Helen Petersen, BuzzFeed, July 2015)

“Trying to fulfill the contradictory demands of postfeminism would turn any woman into a dick.” I watched Trainwreck with my friends last night. I’ll admit, I had low expectations. I figured it would be a fun movie, one I’d wish I’d rented instead of paid $26 (I paid for my boyfriend’s ticket, too, because I am a gentleman) to see. I was pleasantly surprised. There are some weird plotholes, for sure, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Petersen articulates some of the reasons I liked Trainwreck in her review for BuzzFeed, and she explores its rejection of postfeminist cinematic tropes.

3. “As If: A Journey Through the Los Angeles of Clueless.” (Molly Lambert, Grantland, July 2015)

Ever since I watched 500 Days of Summer as a teen, I’ve obsessed over the pieces of a movie that make it special. For 500 Days, it was the music, the non-linear storytelling, and the muted color palette. For Clueless, it was the location (and the on-point costuming, but that’s for another list). Molly Lambert grew up in California, close to several of the film sites. At Grantland she takes the reader on a virtual tour of Clueless, interspersed with her own memories.

4. “Elisabeth Moss & Mark Duplass on Collaborating for Their New Film The One I Love.” (Hillary Weston, Blackbook, August 2014)

Until reading this interview with Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass, I had no idea this indie, psychological rom-com was collaborative and improvisational. Duplass came to the film’s director with a seed of an idea, and the team took it from there.

5. “How Judy Greer Became Hollywood’s Most In-Demand Best Friend.” (Jarett Wieselman, BuzzFeed, April 2014)

Few actors boast an oeuvre as diverse as Judy Greer–she’s garnered roles in Arrested Development, 13 Going on 30, The Descendents, and many, many more–yet you may not recognize her name.