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With Fake Dating Movies on the Rise, Where Are My Coffee Shop Romance Films?

I just want cute queer romance at a coffee shop, is that too much to ask?

Where are our coffee shop rom-coms, Netflix?

We are living in an era of fake dating rom-coms. From To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before to Netflix heartthrob Noah Centino’s upcoming The Perfect Date, more and more rom-coms are gleefully embracing the excellent trope of “we have to pretend to be a couple but also we fall in love along the way,” which is a trope that fanfiction writers have been loving for years and years. Who doesn’t love the slow burn and pining of a good fake relationship? It’s an excellent, classic trope for that reason.

However, when we’ve made far too many fake dating films and people are looking for something familiar and comforting, I personally vote the next rom-com trend should be a coffee shop romance. Ensemble ones, especially ones featuring queer characters and relationships, because we need some good rom-coms featuring LGBT characters where they find love that isn’t based around trauma and death.

The gist of a coffee shop fic, usually an AU of a more serious project, is that several characters work at an independently owned coffee shop, usually stocked with homemade baked goods and always making the best lattes. Another character, usually the main romantic interest, will become a frequent visitor to the shop. Flirting, and then romance, ensues. Happy endings abound. We’ve written about how much we freaking love them, and that love still burns true.

For example, one of my favorite Star Trek (Kelvin timeline, not TOS) fics is an excellent coffee shop AU where Kirk works at a university coffee shop (owned by Sulu and his husband) and Spock and Bones are professors. Bones’s daughter Joanna is also a character, because hot dads are also a frequent fixture of a good AU. Eventually, Kirk and Spock and Bones all fall in love, and it’s absolutely perfect. If this bothers you, you’re probably reading bad fic and the wrong site.

Unfortunately, we can’t get coffee shop AUs on the big screen, but we can get a decent coffee shop romance film. The plot is simple, yet inviting. Have a quirky ensemble of coffee shop employees, featuring either a barista, baker, or owner who is particularly lovelorn and cute. Give them a romantic partner in the form of a regular; either a harried lawyer/corporate worker or a pixie dream-type musician or artist (note: this only works if you’re not going for the dream girl fixing the broken guy trope).

Shenanigans ensue. Maybe someone is trying to shut down the store! Maybe a rival shop opened up just down the block! The stakes aren’t world-shatteringly high, but they’re present. Sprinkle a dash of angst, add a healthy dose of comedy, and possibly top it all off with a cute pet or cuter kid, and presto. Instant comfort. It’s like a good latte: warm, delicious, and perfectly fulfilling.

On Monday, we covered how we wanted Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o to star in a movie together. We pitched spy and heist films, but they’d be the perfect stars for a cute rom-com. Gurira plays an overworked lawyer who lives for caffeine, while Nyong’o owns a small coffee shop/bakery with a crew of misfit employees. They find love, and Gurira learns to enjoy life through her adorable girlfriend’s cupcakes. There we go. Perfect movie. Oscar-worthy, one might say.

Other stars who need a coffee shop rom-com include Chrises Pine, Evans, and Hemsworth, as well as Letita Wright, Kelly Marie Tran, John Boyega, and Lana Condor. Netflix could corner the market on films inspired by our favorite fanfiction tropes, and I would happily pay any subscription fee. So, let’s get this started as a 2019 resolution: someone, somewhere, make a cute coffee shop rom-com. Do it for the culture, dammit!

(image: Pexels)

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Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.