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The report is in, and the eulogy has been delivered. Romantic comedies are dead. I say that's good news.

Hollywood has long told us one big story about love: Romance is the reason for living. Meet-cutes. Butterflies. That moment when you think you've lost him forever, followed by relief and a kiss that sweeps you off your feet. Cue the swelling violins.

Rom-coms and grand romances have long ruled as one of the most reliable ways to entice viewers and sell tickets. Sure, we've also had movies about family members learning to love each other better. Once in a while we get a good buddy comedy. But "true love" has been the big draw.

Schooled by Hollywood's version of romance, we filter our whole lives through rose-colored glasses. Someday my prince will come, we think. I too can have a fancy magazine-editor job, lattes, stilettos, and the man of my dreams. We rarely even say "I love you" any more outside of romance's embrace.

Lately, though, the soothsayers have forecast the end of the romance-driven movie. In 2013, The Hollywood Reporter reported on the genre's demise, quoting industry insiders who said "the meet-cute is dead." In January, Alexander Huls pointed out in The Atlantic that last year's romances—The Spectacular Now, Enough Said, Before Midnight—are more realistic than their predecessors, portraying the challenges of romantic relationships rather than glossing over them.

But there's even better news. A host of recent movies and television shows—from About Time to Frozen to Parks and Recreation—tell a new story: Romance is not the only kind of love that makes life worth living.

About Time (directed by rom-com king Richard ...

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Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
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April 2014

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