The Revolution of the Rom-com : Set It Up

How one office romance revived the genre


rom-com love stories

Meet-cutes and the miscommunication trope, a tale as old as time, chained forever to the “chick-flick” title and owned by Hallmark, the romantic comedy genre within the film has been slowly losing face over time. While honoring Andie Anderson with morally gray journalism, here is the revolution and renaissance of the romantic comedy. 

\ Teenage dreams rule as the prime sponsor of the newest celebrity crushes. Romantic comedies had, and have since lost, their reign. It seems as if the demographic for rom-coms have grown up with it. The people who were teens throughout the golden ages (90s), are now the people in charge of the industry. When left to their own devices, the original demographic for rom-coms have created little more than a copy and paste of the same trope. The people that grew up watching “She’s All That” or “Never Been Kissed” had the movies catered to them as teens or young adults. Now, trying to recreate the magic, their efforts have come  short. 

The renaissance of the rom-com came later in the 2010s. It spewed out box office hits, juicy gossip, and a whole lot of sexual innuendo. However, the genre’s golden age was in the early 2000s. After that, things hit the fan. With velvet tracksuits and frosty lip gloss, the pink-glazed 2000s movies affected these teens and altered their undeveloped minds.  What others would have considered brain rot was heavily affecting a whole generation’s worth of pop culture and media. While the genre was already steady declining, it was officially floored with the #MeToo movement. The movement that called for social change regarding women in the workplace was on the scene in 2006 (prime rom-com era), but blew up around 2016-17, thus sending the already fleeting fans down the drain. The #MeToo movement was revolutionary for feminism and modern-day workplace dynamics. Many people following this real-life sexist act also took to calling out misogynistic media, and nonetheless, the rom-com was officially executed.  

Many of the loved movies from the past have aged poorly. 

The public hanging of the romantic comedy made it impossible to  revive. Furthermore,  the box office felt this pain. According to Statista, in 2015 – 2017, romantic comedies made an average of 117.89 million dollars, compared to the highest grossing year, 1999, where they made a whopping 853.83 million dollars. Many factors went into the demise, but most can be attributed to the “MeToo” movement.

The money was tight, the stigmas surrounding the movies were worse, however, change was brewing because director Claire Scanlon had plans. She was going after the prize most wanted, the revolution of the rom-com, led by a simple Netflix office comedy. “Set It Up” started production around 2017, with a cautious budget of 10 million dollars. What was made was essentially magic. 

In “Set It Up,” the classic trope is done  modernly. . The leads had genuine chemistry (Glen Powell as Charlie, and Zoey Dutch as Harper) and amazingly handled the workplace environment. The choice to do a workplace story, contrasting with the time, was a leap of faith; Charlie and Harper landed. A post-“Top Gun” maverick Powell plays the hunky love interest like his rent was due. Dutch provides a relatable character but not crossing the line as the “y/n” self-insert role. She created a well-rounded female character when it was much needed. 

Furthermore, Harper did not come off as a character to project yourself onto, which is one of the most common annoyances in  past films of this genre. Harper did not  try too hard to be relatable, nor was she someone created from a man’s mind. She was like most women, and that created something steady and comforting to many. 

The film gave reparations to the disgraced genre.  After that, there was a reform of these films. From watching the downfall, the renaissance, and wherever it stands now, romantic comedies have adapted with time. Whether that is good or bad is up to you. 

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