After “Happily Ever After”: Romantic Comedy in the Post-Romantic Age

Wayne State Univ. Pr.. May 2021. 382p. ed. by Maria San Filippo. ISBN 9780814346730. $92.99; pap. ISBN 9780814346747. $34.99. FILM
With this collection of scholarly essays, editor San Filippo (media studies, Emerson Coll., Boston; The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television) and contributors argue that the romantic comedy isn’t dead—and not only that, but the genre is richer than ever, with recent films and TV series going beyond the once-requisite happy ending and “Cinderella”-type story lines. The essays consider stories that end without the couple coming together, plots that question marriage and monogamy, and works that reflect on people’s motivations to connect romantically. Contributors also discuss rom-coms that still follow versions of the traditional mainstream formula but feature a wider range of protagonists who are people of color, older adults, and queer people. Some chapters examine how videos and independent movies have expanded the field. The book explores non-U.S. productions that are expanding the rom-com genre, including films and TV shows from France and South Korea. There’s a chapter on Hong Kong director Johnnie To, whose Don’t Go Breaking My Heart and its sequel (2011 and 2014, respectively) were set during the 2008 financial crisis; in it, Tom Cunliffe explores how consumer-driven mindsets influence even the romantic sphere.
VERDICT This work, which is aimed primarily at academics, demonstrates that the fantasy of the rom-com lives on, in the same ways and new ones.
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