I've always rejected the idea of "low-brow" entertainment. If something makes you laugh and does no harm, then you should enjoy it without shame or stigma.
When it comes to movies, books, and television, my taste is all over the place. I'm just as happy watching Breaking Bad as I am marathoning Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I've read every novel Jane Austen ever wrote, as well as the entire Fifty Shades of Grey series. I love a good Oscar-winning cinematic "masterpiece" just as much as I love curling up with one of my beloved romantic comedies.
Obviously, the way we view certain films as "fluff" is a highly gendered system of categorizing things. Like, how the genre of "buddy films" is made up entirely of films about dudes. Will somebody alert Hollywood that women can be "buddies," too?
Sure, romantic comedies aren't the sort of intellectual bait that pseudo-intellectual dudebros with MBAs get off on, but I unabashedly love them. They make me happy, and I like being happy. So that's that!
Aside from being a bountiful source of laughs and happiness, romantic comedies are an endless fount of beauty and style inspiration. Here are some of my favorite looks from some of my favorite romcoms, from classics to more contemporary takes on the genre.
Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles (1984)
I devoured John Hughes films as a teen. No one was quite as relatable as Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles, trapped in a perpetual state of eye-roll. I loved her short curly mop and rosy lips, and I still do.
Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner (2001)
Any movie featuring JLo is, like, the ultimate example of suspension of disbelief in films. Are we supposed to actually pretend women who look like Jennifer freakin' Lopez are just walking around in the world, existing in society, and holding down jobs like wedding planners or hotel maids? If only.
Alas, I am always willing to suspend said disbelief when The Wedding Planner's on TV because I love it so much. Between her pulled-back ponytails (meant to signify her straight-lacedness and general air of professionalism, I guess) and her skin (serious #glowgoals), the only confusing part of Jenny in this film is that she seems to have aged backwards since it was released 14 years ago.
Leighton Meester in Life Partners (2014)
My devotion to Leighton extends beyond the parameters of her most famous role as the Queen B of the Upper East Side.
Life Partners is one of my favorite on-screen depictions of female friendship ever, featuring Leighton Meester as a scrappy but sensitive lesbian with an adorable short, blunt bob and Gillian Jacobs as her longtime BFF. When Gillian's character enters a long-term relationship, the duo must figure out the changing dynamic of their friendship.
Who among us hasn't had to deal with how annoying it can be when a BFF gets a boyf, while still trying to be happy for them??
Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally (1989)
I couldn't write a list of romcoms without at least one mention of the legendary Meg Ryan. While her sassy, shopgirl pixie in You've Got Mail was a close second, her big early 90s curls in When Harry Met Sally won my biased heart. Again, Meg proves my lifelong theory that curly hair is just sexier.
Would this scene have worked as well had she been repping a sleek, straightened blowout? Methinks not.
Jenny Slate in Obvious Child (2014)
A romantic comedy about abortion? Sign me up.
This blunt, charming comedy stars the effervescent Jenny Slate as a slightly aimless standup comic who finds herself accidentally with-child. In her actual life (which you can follow on her hilarious Instagram), Jenny rocks a head of big curls, but in the movie, her hair is blown out to voluminous perfection that I will spend the rest of my life trying to emulate.
Natasha Richardson in The Parent Trap (1998)
I loved the Lilo version of The Parent Trap as a kid. Even at a young age, I was taken aback by Natasha Richardson's natural grace and beauty. With classic bone structure and that chic blonde cut, she was a serious stunner. Though she tragically passed away a few years ago, I still often find myself admiring her beauty whenever I re-watch this classic from my childhood.
Julia Roberts in Notting Hill (1999)
As America's one-time sweetheart, Julia's smile has stolen many a heart in so many films throughout the nineties and even through today. It's her sweet demeanor and flippy, quaint lob in 1999's Notting Hill that I've been admiring as of late. Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant are like romcom royalty, right?
Rashida Jones in Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)
This is actually sort of an anti-romcom, since it's mostly a story about a couple after a breakup. But in its own way, it is romantic and hilarious and the combination of those two feelings is what makes it so tender.
Rashida is gorgeous all of the time, but in this film, with her shiny hair and perfect bangs, it's difficult to believe anyone would dump her, right?
Shannyn Sossamon in Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)
This dark take on the romcom left a pretty serious impression on me as a teen. That is to say, it made me spend one misguided evening in front of the mirror attempting to chop my hair into Shannyn's spiky, baby-banged bob from this indie hit.
Shannyn and her ridiculous cheekbones are probably to blame for many an erroneous DIY haircut decision, I bet.
Rodrigo Santoro in Love Actually (2003)
Maybe no major motion picture has better summed up everything great and terrible about romantic comedies than Love Actually. The film features a bevy of beautiful babes (Keira Knightley! Emma Thompson! Laura Linney!) but it's time we pay homage to the most beautiful character of them all: Karl.
That floppy hair! Those cheekbones! Those helpless, puppy-dog eyes. C'mere, Karl. I found some mistletoe in this corner. Let's check it out.
- What's your favorite romantic comedy?
- Is love real? Let's take a poll. I vote, "probably."
- Another poll: Should I get bangs? Rashida's got me thinkin'.