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LM (Lily) Mulholland

Hi! What a great problem to have. Congratulations on nearly being finished!

I’m rewriting a romcom and it’s HARD because I like subtle humour and gentle romance and they appear tough to sell when most romcoms these days are (to me) obnoxious and full of slapstick. E.G. I Feel Pretty, How To Be Single, Set It Up) etc. Or we have movies that are romantic but not comedic (Pride & Prejudice is amusing but it’s not a comedy—same goes for Erin Brokovich). Or amusing but not romantic (Home Again, Life of the Party, The Intern). I don’t want to write those movies. I guess I want to explore deeper themes but in an entertaining package.

It’s such a hard genre to get right (write) and we are constantly second-guessing our stories as not being funny enough, not enough stakes, whether you need to shoe-horn in a ‘running to the airport/station’ scene even though it doesn’t really fit.

And they don’t rate/review well, the latest exception being Crazy, Rich Asians, which I didn’t love!

Who would write romcoms?

(Rhetorical question! Of course almost everyone reading your blog wants to! Thank you for your book, your blog and your insights 😊)


Hi LM: It's a surprisingly tough genre to get right, isn't it? Everyone assumes it's easy ("Oh, I could do one of THOSE") but now more than ever, when contemporary audiences are tired of the same-old, a screenwriter really has to dig deep to make it work. I think going after complex but relatable characters is key, and finding a fresh and intriguing context for the romance. Best of luck with yours!


I've been thinking about writing a blog post/essay that covers technology in romcoms, and I'd also like to toss another title into the mix of diversity if you haven't included it already...

-Diversity/Mixed Race Relationships-
The Shape of Water is a marvelous example of tolerance and acceptance in terms of a romantic relationship. Although it's more romantic than comedy, there's plenty of humor in the film.

I'm enamored of Two Night Stand which is predicated on a hookup app bringing the main main characters together. It's a charming film that shows two strangers getting to know each other after an intimate encounter and being forced to hang out due to a severe weather event. It's the technology that brings them together. Although it might be a stretch, digital filmmaking force a coupling of two friends in Zack and Miri Make a Porno. There's also High Fidelity, which I think you've included, but I would include in the technology category due to mix-tapes being central to the romance and and the story, which was really an 80's and 90's thing, which ultimately gave way to the playlist, which brings me to... Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which uses the technology of the playlist, and the music they share, to help develop the relationship. NNIP is certainly weaker on the technology angle, and I can't think of any other recent romcoms that rely on technology, but there are the classics of Pillow Talk (telephone), Lover Come Back (miracle pill), and You've Got Mail (email) all of which utilize the technology of the day to bring the lovers together.


Hi Steve! That's a fascinating idea for an article, and I'd be curious to read it. You might add Her to that shortlist, as I think it very much speaks to your topic.

I won't be citing Shape of Water because - although it does contain humorous moments - it's considered a drama (and I agree). Love the movie, regardless. (And yes, Her is definitely a borderline case in this regard, but people do think of it as a comedy/dramedy, as well as a sci-fi/fantasy pic.)

Confess that I'd never even HEARD of Two Night Stand, but I will definitely check it out!

lynda sparrow

What a great journey you've had. And the wonderful part is your only half done. Congratulations on expanding the dialogue on rom-coms. No one could have done it better.


Thank you sweet Lynda! You sure do know how to warm the cockles, as one could say back in the day...

Christina F

In the last twenty years? The under-the-radar romantic comedies that linger for me are the following: The Tao of Steve, the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy -- I guess it now has its own Criterion set called: The Before Trilogy. [Wow, I'll have to get that one.] Her, The Lobster (I loved it), (500) Days of Summer, Lars and the Real Girl, and ? I feel like there is one I'm forgetting!


Hi Christina: I'm on board with all of those - Her gets a spotlight in the new edition, as a Case Study; (500) Days gets a lot of play, as well. I do cite The Lobster, and the trilogy gets mentions. I've always had a soft spot for The Tao but couldn't find a way to use it (may make the list of "Deep Cuts" I'm preparing); Lars... hmmm. Thanks for the reminder; black comedy rom-com, I'd say, so maybe I can slip it into that category... Thank you for this input!

Christina F

I think Tao of Steve (2000) has more in common with slacker movies from the '90s -- High Fidelity, Reality Bites, Office Space, Swingers, Slacker, Clerks, Singles, etc. which may be the reason it doesn't make the cut. Seems to me the cut off for this kind of movie was 9/11. Also, an observation. It's probably not relevant to your book, but I think as a film buff you'll find this interesting... Are you ready for it? In 2007, there were three pregnancy movies! Each one starts with a pregnancy test, and ends with the birth of a baby. In Juno (released Dec 2007), she didn't keep the baby, or the man. In Waitress (released May 2007), she keeps the baby but not the man. In Knocked Up (released June 2007), she keeps both! It's eerie how similar the movies are in their underlying story structure, but they were so different stylistically that they don't feel similar.


Christina, that IS interesting. I'm covering Knocked Up in the new edition (obviously), and Juno does get mentions; but I never made the connection with Waitress (prob'ly because it's not a movie I personally responded to) - anyway: yes, eerie. Though ideas in the ether do tend to cluster, in my neck of the woods, i.e. as a story analyst at Universal, I see this kind of odd-but-logical congruence fairly often. It's the zeitgeist!

Jackie Muhlstock

Still thinking Imagine Me an You has the makings of a great romcom. By the way, would you catorize Crazy Rich
Aisians as a 21st century romcom?


Hi Jackie! Crazy RA is very much a 21st C rom-com (and multi-referenced in the new edition): Old wine in new bottles, which is a prevalent approach for the kind of romantic comedies that can get made in 2019. And thank you for thinking of IMAY as a movie. Stranger things have happened... ;-> B.

Andrea Mann

Very exciting about the new book, Billy! More power to your (no doubt sore, post-writing) elbow. Re. possible inclusions, can I please cheerlead for: Music & Lyrics (so hugely underrated/unknown, relatively), The Holiday (how come Love Actually has become THE holiday romcom and not this?!); and more recently, Isn't It Romantic (SUCH fun, especially of course for romcom aficionados) and Aurore! (I Got Life), the French romantic comedy which refreshingly focused around a middle-aged woman.


Hi Andrea! My sore elbow thanks you ;-> Yes, I have a soft spot in my heart for Music & Lyrics - which I couldn't find a way to use as an example of some specific writing principle, but hope to include in a list of "Deep Cuts" from 2000-2019. Isn't It Romantic is discussed, of course... Don't hate me, but I'm not a Holiday fan, myself - but other Nancy Meyers movies get a lot of love in the new edition, particularly Something's Gotta Give. The book is primarily about English language rom-coms, so no French add-ons, but thanks for the tip re: Aurore, which I'm not familiar with but am now curious to see!

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