What Is the Difference Between a 'Chick Flick' and A Romantic Comedy?

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email. 

The most interesting answers may be linked, cross-posted, or published at PJ Lifestyle. Last Week’s Pop Culture Debates focused on video games, so it seems only reasonable that this week should go in the opposite direction: so how about a week of discussing the best/worst/over/underrated in romantic movies and books?

Also check out the previous weeks’ writing prompts and email in your thoughts on any questions that strike your fancy: Questions To Figure Out Makes Some Adaptations Succeed and Others Fail5 Questions So We Can Figure Out the Cream of the Crop In Popular Music Genres5 Geek Questions To Provoke Debates About the Future of Sci-Fi and Fantasy5 Controversial Questions To Inspire Spirited Debates About Music.

A comment from Reformed Trombonist on yesterday’s prompt asking for the greatest romantic comedies of all time:

Great romantic comedies? Is that a trick question?

Nine out of ten romantic comedies are straight-ahead, unapologetic chick flicks. Chick flicks, as a species, follow a general pattern:

1. Girl pines for her soul mate, while all around her, her girl buddies have guys. She can’t be too beautiful. This is important. You can be too beautiful to make it in chick flicks. I used to call it the “Meg Ryan” Rule: no actress more beautiful than Meg Ryan can make a living in chick flicks. Meg Ryan appears to be gone now, but the mantle keeps bouncing around. Sandra Bullock, perhaps? She might be the exception that proves the rule. Reese Witherspoon? Drew Barrymore? Renee Zellweger? A chick flick actress must be what I call “girl pretty” — that is, girls think she’s pretty, but guys are mostly unmoved.

2. Handsome man appears. Seems almost perfect. Helps if he’s rich or a European prince. He doesn’t need to have much of a character development. Mostly, he’s a prop.

3. Misunderstanding and soul-searching. Maybe she thinks he loves another woman. Maybe she’s trying to succeed in her career and is afraid that falling in love at this time of her life will keep her from achieving her goals. Maybe she doesn’t think he respects her goals. This leaves her free to behave bitchily. That’s allowed. She’s allowed to abuse him, and he’s permitted to take the abuse like a man and still have undying love for her.

4. Reconciliation. On her terms. Why, he may be a Danish prince with more money than Warren Buffett and more charisma than Jesus, but he just can’t be happy until his darling says yes.

The moral of the story is that an occasionally bitchy woman who is less than beautiful (since that describes 99.9% of women movie-watchers, that’s quite a market) she can still bag Prince Charming.

That said…

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” wins the prize for sheer wittiness.

Apostic called My Man Godfrey a romantic comedy. Funny, he’s right, but I never thought of it that way. I don’t see anything remotely romantic about William Powell’s Godfrey, and he so clearly dominates the picture, I never thought of it as more than a William Powell tour de force. It helped, though, that Carole Lombard was in that movie, the perfect foil to Godfrey’s rare moments of befuddlement.