I didn’t grow up reading romance novels—in fact, I don’t think I ever read a genre romance until I was in my twenties. But when I look back on the stories I loved when I was growing up, they often had strong romance plotlines. To this day, some of my favorite romances are found in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and action. So here are ten of my favorite romances, in non-romance movies and television!
1. Deadpool, 2016
Scratch the surface of comic book heroes and villains alike, and you’ll often find a tragic love in their origin stories, whether it’s pure love as the motivator for good deeds or lost love as the germ of the mayhem they wreak. But Wade (Deadpool) and Vanessa have a wonderful onscreen romance in Deadpool. It starts out confrontational and snarky, and continues that way, adding layers of devotion and love as it unfolds. It’s a great example of a romance that is essential to plot and character development.
2. The Runaways, 2010
This biopic about music group The Runaways is fun, loud, and appropriately chaotic. The relationship between Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) develops slowly, with them going from bandmates, to friends, to lovers, all against the backdrop of The Runaways’ growing success.
3. Only Lovers Left Alive, 2013
I’m a big Jim Jarmusch fan, and this vampire story set in present day Detroit is basically perfect. What does a relationship look like when it has lasted centuries and stretched across continents? It looks like silence and self-knowledge and … well, blood.
4. Friday Night Lights, 2006–2011
There is a lot of breaking up and getting it on in this show, but one relationship stays steady the whole time: Coach and Tammy Taylor. They’re a wonderful example of how partnership means compromise, generosity, and a lot of work. And of how it’s all worth it.
5. Love and Basketball, 2000
I love sports movies because the characters are always incredibly focused on achieving their goals. In Love and Basketball, making it in the sport is the goal of both Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps). They’re friends, they’re competitors, they’re lovers, they’re enemies—their relationship is as changeable as the game, but the respect they have for each other runs deep.
6. Velvet Goldmine, 1998
A fiery and tumultuous relationship between a proto-punk singer and a glam rocker is at the heart of this film. Years later, a journalist tries to excavate the truth of how it ended, and meditates on his own romance. One of my all-time favorite music movies.
7. Bend it Like Beckham, 2002
Bend it Like Beckham begins as a love story between Jesminder and football (soccer). The daughter of observant Sikh parents, Jess has to hide the fact that she’s playing. But her love of the game slowly becomes love for her coach as well. Bonus points for the film resolving the jealousy between Jess and her bestie Jules, who also has a thing for the coach.
8. Hannibal, 2013–2015
I was late to the game on watching Hannibal, but now that I have, it’s lodged firmly in my all-time faves, both as a show and as a love story between Hannibal and Will (see Matt Zoller Seitz’s wonderful explication here). It’s a slow dance, a meeting of the minds, and a codependency that unfolds over three luscious seasons.
9. Foxfire, 1996
Based on Joyce Carol Oates’ novel, Foxfire is, at its core, about how one person can galvanize a group to realize their true desires. The central connection here is between Maddie and Legs (Hedy Burress and Angelina Jolie), but Legs’ charisma and fearlessness spark romantic friendships among the whole group of unlikely friends. Bonus points for self-tattooing and mega nineties style.
10. The Crow, 1994
Remember in number one when I mentioned lost love as the motivation for action? Yeah, Eric Draven (The Crow, played by Brandon Lee) full-on comes back from the dead to avenge the murder of his fiancée Shelly. We get glimpses of their romance in the film, yes, but it’s just as much a romance of memory. ALL the bonus points for Michael Wincott (as Top Dollar), who has basically the greatest voice in movie history.
What are your favorite romances in non-romance stories?
(featured image: NBC)
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
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