Romantic comedies: high standards or unrealistic expectations?

I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him... to be more like the ones in the movies.

Annabel Hogg
26th October 2021
Image: IMDb
Since birth my mum and sister have spoon fed me John Hughes movies and Austen novels like they were vitamins and superfoods. At age 11, I could list every single all-too-similar, floppy-haired Hugh Grant character and I can now recite the entirety of When Harry Met Sally word for word (you can hold me to that; it’s my party trick). My point is, I live and breathe the famous ‘rom-com’. And it’s had quite the effect on my life.

Some may argue that romantic fiction creates unattainable goals that simply leave us disappointed when it comes to the real world. In my experience, there’s validity to this. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been called out on my naivety by friends and family. From believing high school bullies were just part of an intense enemies-to-lovers storyline to being disappointed when my first boyfriend dumped me over snapchat and not during a passionate fight in the rain – I’ve been left underwhelmed by the real world far too many times.

Image: IMBd

It goes without saying that life and especially love, really isn’t like it is in the movies, and the sooner we learn that, the better. You’ll probably never get run after in an airport (something I’m still coming to terms with), and your crush probably won’t turn up at your door to profess their love with a cd player and a bunch of cardboard signs.

The most important thing to remember is that love – real love, soulmate kind of love – is boring as hell, and that’s usually how you know it’s right. There’s no screaming in storms, running down train tracks together or sleeping under the Hollywood sign – and that’s okay. Peace is hugely underrated. But, and perhaps this is a sign that I’ve learnt absolutely nothing in 19 years, I still think life, and love, has its magical moments. And despite being left disappointed so many times, I think it’s okay to search for them.

There’s romantic fiction being written and lived every minute of every day, and if you don’t really look for it, you might just miss it.

To quote a particular favourite floppy-haired Hugh Grant character, ‘if you look for it, love actually is all around’. There are best friends who look at each other a little differently one day, boys who’ll gift you books with notes in the margins, grandparents married for half a century who’ll tell you how they got together at their school dance. There’s my mum and dad who are together because she’s the only person who laughs at his jokes 37 years later, slightly less shouty but all the more beautiful kisses in the rain, and eyes that find each other within crowds of thousands. My point is, there’s romantic fiction being written and lived every minute of every day, and if you don’t really look for it, you might just miss it.

So ultimately, yes – romcoms can lead to unrealistic expectations when it comes to the real world, and they should definitely be taken with a pinch of salt. However, it is these standards of romance that have forced me to look for these magical moments in my own life, ones that I might have missed if I’d have listened to the cynics. Life, and love, is only ever going to be what you make of it, and if you decide that it’ll never ever be like the movies, then you’re going to miss the happy endings happening right under your nose.

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AUTHOR: Annabel Hogg
she/her| second year english literature student| relationships sub-editor 21/22

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