I have a student who was writing a romantic comedy. There was this scene in the script in which the protagonist, a woman, fell in dog excrement. It’s a comedy. It’s supposed to be funny. But. Um. It’s not “comedy” comedy. It’s “romantic” comedy. So we had a small talk. And. My student still quotes me:
“Dog shit is not romantic.” ~ Max Adams
I’ve seen all kinds of stuff passed off as “romantic comedy” which is really questionable. Vomit? Not so romantic. Thirty minutes of a guy fucking (sorry but it was “fucking”) through multiple women? Not so romantic. Broken off penis sculptures. Seriously?
That word, romantic, is what people sometimes forget in “romantic comedy.” Sure, it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s also supposed to be “romantic.” Key word there. ROMANTIC. And every time I see a romantic comedy with vomit as a key component I sort of want to stab everyone associated with the film in the eye. Seriously? This is what you think I want to see on freaking date night?
But that’s not where I am going here. Here, I am going with “the baby close.”
I’ve been reading a lot of romantic comedies. Stacks. And over and over again I’m seeing these romantic comedy scripts that end with, Flash forward one year, the leads are bouncing a baby.
Excuse me? Really? That’s the cap off to a ROMANTIC relationship? Nine months of morning sickness, an episiotomy, and no one has time to have sex because there’s a baby in the picture now? THAT. IS. ROMANTIC?
I can rattle off romantic endings without thinking. Most of the endings popping into my head aren’t even romantic comedies. North by Northwest, on a train, Hello Mrs. There’s no baby. The Big Easy. A woman in a beautiful dress, a Cajun two step playing, the groom lifting and spinning her in a dance. There’s no baby. Cinema Paradiso. Clip after clip of kisses from old movies, every single kiss cut out of a film while the protagonist worked in movie theaters as a kid, saved for him by his mentor and blasting onto the screen in an explosion of what is romantic and love and passion.
Kissing is romantic. Dancing is romantic. Trains are romantic. Marriage, if it’s the culmination of a passionate story, is romantic.
Spending your first year as a newlywed puking into a toilet and getting prodded by an OBGYN while your ankles swell and then not being able to have sex because having a baby just put your vajayjay out of commission for the next month or so?
Not so romantic.
I know this. I worked for an OBGYN at a tragically impressionable age. You do not even want to know the 64 horrible symptoms on the list you run preggers women through each time they visit the office, it was enough to put me off the idea of motherhood for life and I am willing to bet at least half the women in the audience (it’s a romantic comedy it’s date night fer Chrissakes what were you thinking!) know something about it.
Stop writing “flash forward, the baby” at the end of romantic comedies. Cripes.