tl;dr for some, but it's interesting:
researchers in Scotland are finding the same correlation between unhappiness and Hollywood’s romantic comedies.
Dr. Bjarne Holmes and Kimberly Johnson at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh examined 40 popular romantic comedies from the six biggest Hollywood movie studios — including Notting Hill, How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days and You’ve Got Mail — and suggested they portray relationships with “both highly idealistic and undesirable qualities.” When problems or transgressions arise in these relationships (i.e. the third act of the film), they “have no real negative long-term impact on relationship functioning.”
Further, they wrote, “Adolescents repeatedly exposed to these highly idealized images may therefore come to perceive them as normal, which in turn could have an adverse effect on their satisfaction with their own future relationships. When their own relationships do not compare to the exaggerated depictions in the media they may come to feel as though they are lacking a relationship that others are enjoying.”
It’s not just adolescents, though, it’s all of us. If you expect an exaggerated romantic moment such as the “Here’s a rose for every time I thought of you last night” gesture in Sweet Home Alabama, you’re probably going to be disappointed this Valentine’s Day.
Because face it, most romantic comedies are rubbish. They depict single people as lonely and frustrated, married people as bitter and loveless, they deal heavily in gender stereotypes, rarely show the day-to-day mechanics of a relationship, and wrap up neatly in that fairy tale, “and they all lived happily ever after” closure before the credits roll.
In an experiment, Holmes and Johnson showed 100 students the 2001 John Cusack-Kate Beckinsale romantic comedy Serendipity, and showed another 100 a David Lynch film. In a questionnaire afterwards, the Serendipity viewers were far more likely to say they believed in fate and predestined love.
“That really creates high expectations for some people,” Dr. Holmes explained to Australia’s The Age. “There’s a lot of research out there that shows that if you hold this idea that there is such a thing as predestined love... then you actually have a tendency to be less happy in your own relationships.”
And so you should do yourself a favour and completely avoid the traditional “rom-com” this Valentine’s Day. Instead, we offer a list of recent movies for both couples and singles, inspirational yet realistic films from the past decade that make for great viewing whether you’re on that couch alone or snuggling up with someone.
If you’re in a relationship, they won’t make you gag, and if you’re single, they won’t make you miserable. Sorry, fans of The Notebook.
& their list:
10) Love Actually (2003) — A predominantly British cast carries this Richard Curtis film through a series of different stories showing the different aspects of love. Despite the presence of both Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, it’s not as twee as you’d think.
9) The 40-Year Old Virgin (2005) — Writer/director Judd Apatow could have easily taken the raunchy route with his tale of a middle-aged virgin looking to “deflower,” but instead, this is a sweet, funny and insightful film. Steve Carell is likable as always, and Catherine Keener plays his perfect match.
8) Brokeback Mountain (2005) — The most romantic movies are about the subtle gestures, the moments in between intimacy, and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain captures them against a vibrant Alberta landscape. Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger are amazing as ranch hands who fall in love.
7) Punch-Drunk Love (2002) — Punch-Drunk Love finds an unlikely Adam Sandler playing Barry Egan, a desperately lonely man prone to fits of rage. He finds the adorable Lena Leonard (Emily Watson) who somehow accepts him for who he is. P.T. Anderson (There Will Be Blood) directs.
6) Slumdog Millionaire (2008) — A young, uneducated boy from Mumbai’s slums appears on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire not to win money, but because he thinks the love of his life might be watching. A great movie, on your own or with a loved one.
5) Once (2007) — A Dublin busker (Glen Hansard of The Frames) and a Czech immigrant (Marketa Iglova) meet on the street and soon start to make beautiful music together. Little but flirtation happens, but it happens with such a gorgeous soundtrack that you’re quickly swooned.
4) Wall-E (2008) — It’s almost sad that two animated robots floating in space can say more about love and romance than most real-life actors, but that’s what Pixar manages with the amazing Wall-E. Destined to become an animation classic.
3) Before Sunset (2004) — In 1995’s Before Sunrise, Ethan Hawk is Jesse, an American who spends a day in Vienna with a Parisian named Celine (Julie Delphy). Nine years later they reunite in Paris and spend the day walking and talking, and nothing more. Amazingly effective in its simplicity.
2) Amelie (2001) — This charming French film stars Audrey Tautou as Amelie Poulin, a young Parisian waitress who falls for a boy and sends him a series of photographs and riddles in order to make their first kiss the most romantic moment of her life.
1) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) — Michel Gondry directs this beautiful film about a young couple (Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) who fall out of love and decide to erase the other from their memory. Wonderfully shot and edited, this brilliant film leaves you guessing until the end.
so we should all watch depressing romantic movies because romantic comedies are bad for us. the end