Adam Scott talking into a microphone in Bachelorette.

It’s Time to Ditch the Bad Boys of Romantic Comedy and Focus on the Good

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I’m a sucker for a good romantic comedy. Whether it’s seeing two people fall in love or the wild antics that usually surround the main characters, I’m here for it. What I’m not a fan of is the less-than-favorable male lead who’s rewarded for it. For years, we’ve had to watch as men continue to screw up in our romantic comedies and accept that that was just a part of love, and no, that’s not true at all.

Sure, we all mess up—we’re human beings—but there is something so outrageously grand about the way men mess up in romantic comedies that it warrants them doing these crazy stunts to win back the woman they love. It is a constant fixture in our films, and while we’re ready for it to change, there are still some good moments out there that do not get nearly enough coverage.

For one, there is Adam Scott’s portrayal of Clyde in Bachelorette, a movie that features a lot of characters who seem just like the rest of us (meaning they are rightfully messed up). Clyde’s big moment doesn’t come on the heels of some outrageous injustice, but rather, just showing Gena that he still loves her as he did when they were together.

Compare a character like Clyde to a character like Can’t Buy Me Love’s Ronald Miller, and you can see why they’re both very different kinds of “romantic leads”—Meaning Ronald Miller is terrible when I’d actually give Clyde a shot.

Miller, portrayed by Patrick Dempsey, is the perfect representation of the kind of nerdy man who believes he’s owed his time, and even at the end, when he rides his lawnmower over to win back Cindy, the gesture is marred by the knowledge that he was a complete douchebag to her.

We’re seeing a change in the tides, though. Characters like Peter Kavinsky take the idea of toxic males in film and flip them on their heads. In fact, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before fixed all the mistakes that Can’t Buy Me Love, and even Love Don’t Cost a Thing, made. (Meaning the movie dropped the entitled nerd character and gave us a fake dating trope that we could scream about for weeks to come.)

But we still have a ways to go with our men in cinema. Literally last year, we had the final installment to a series starring Christian Grey, a manipulative man who likes to tie women up in a very not-BDSM-positive franchise, and it was one of the most liked series out there. (Come on, people. There are better men than Christian Grey).

So, are we going to see a change in our movies? To be fair, we’ve been seeing the contrast for quite some time. The problem is that we’re not giving these better representations of men in romantic scenarios the time they deserve. So this Valentine’s day, go watch a movie like Bachelorette or To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and leave Christian Grey at the door.

(image: The Weinstein Company)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.