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World According to Movies: Which romantic comedy has the worst characters?

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

The romantic comedy is a film genre defined as a subgenre of comedy and slice-of-life fiction, focusing on lighthearted, humorous plot lines centered on romantic ideas, such as how true love can surmount most obstacles normally with two characters in a will-they-won’t-they situation ala Ross and Rachel from Friends.

Since their peak popularity in the nineties with movies like Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and Jerry Maguire, the romantic comedy has dipped in popularity over the years. However, something about the genre keeps people coming back to watch them time and time again. It’s not a genre well known for its innovation – there are only so many times you can rearrange words in sentences before it becomes meaningless gibberish.

Now, personally, I’m not a fan of the romantic comedy genre, it just feels like there’s a lot of repetition in the genre that you don’t get as much in comedy and action… I said as much, don’t light up your torches yet. I have seen my fair share of romantic comedies and besides the repetitive clichés, I have to say… characters in these types of movies really aren’t that nice.

The epiphany came late one Sunday afternoon after whiling away the day watching movies back-to-back for about six hours. A quick internet search made me realize I’m not the only one to come to this realization, the series After Hours hashed all this out way back in 2016. However, you don’t come to this blog because of my fresh and current reviews, my first review for this blog was the 1990s comedy classic The Big Steal.

As such, I’m going through some of the worst characters throughout the rom-com genre based on my personal opinion and crowning a winner based on some arbitrary yet binding value that I have yet to decide. Let’s kick this post into gear!

Edward Lewis – Pretty Woman (1990)

See what I did there? You know because Edward Lewis is okayed by Richard Gere in the movie and we’re kicking it into gear… yeah you all got it… playing around with words is fun. Anyway, the movie Pretty Woman is certainly an interesting movie looking back on it. It’s all about a high-powered businessman, Edward, that hires a prostitute Vivian played by Julia Roberts to be his girlfriend for a week or so. Because it’s a movie they both end up falling in love over the course of the week and it all ends happily ever after.

However, Edward is a controlling character that ensures that everything plays out how he and he alone whims it to be. He rarely takes into account Vivian’s feelings and assumes because he had money to pay for what he wants then she will give it to him. Not the best message to give to guys out there. At least he’s not forcing himself into the prostitution industry and forcing her out of a job much like…

Joe Fox – You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Yes, we’re including America’s sweetheart Tom Hanks on a list of horrible characters. No, I’m not looking to be crucified today thank you very much. Yes, I would very much like to explain my position.

The character Tom Hanks plays, Joe Fox, is the head of Fox Books, a mega bookstore chain that has come to town and is slowly running Kathleen Kelly’s (Meg Ryan) family-owned bookstore out of business. That’s not horrible on its own… it’s not good but that happens. What makes it worse is that he is also communicating with Kathleen in an online chatroom while she’s already in a relationship.

Once they do meet up in person, he doesn’t come clean and admit who he really is and belittles her bookstore every chance he gets. That’s not a proper basis for any real relationship and it’s frustrating that movies have put forward this type of relationship as admirable when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Mark – Love Actually (2003)

Most of the characters in the movie Love Actually could be eligible for this list but I’ve got a strict one character per franchise rule so here I’m picking out the one that makes me feel the grossest watching it. That character is absolutely Mark.

Mark’s story involves his best friend Peter and his wife, Juliet, as he acts as the cameraman during their wedding. He wasn’t exactly making sure everything was captured of the great day. Turns out he was focused much more on Juliet and refused to show it to anyone.

Juliet finds out and instead of facing the issue with what he did, he turns up at her house and while Peter – his best friend need I remind you- is in the other room, Mark plays Christmas music and shows large cue cards to Juliet expressing his true feelings for her. Not only is it a massive moral issue for him to tell her this now that she’s married but she’s also married to his best friend. It’s just all around gross and not romantic at all.

Pretty much everyone in She’s All That – She’s All That (1999)

If you haven’t had the “pleasure” of watching this nineties-period piece of romantic comedy allow me to fill you in. After Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and his girlfriend break up, he and his buddy make a bet that he can replace his ex with any girl at his high school. They end up picking Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) and attempt to make her the Prom Queen.

They go through the usual rom-com hijinks before pulling out the old makeover routine and all of a sudden Zack ends up falling for Laney with the rest of the school finally noticing her just because she lost her glasses and put her hair down. This is probably the worse rom-com trope as it makes everyone so shallow and reduces them simply to their looks, not their personality. It’s terrible and makes everyone in the movie worse off for it.

What are your thoughts on romantic comedies? Which character is the worst in your opinion? Let me know in the comments below.


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I've always loathed Heath Ledger's character in "10 Things I Hate About You." The whole dating Kat to get paid was awful in the first place, but when she starts questioning his motivation, he makes her feel guilty for doubting him. He knows she's right, but he makes her feel like a jerk. Then, he buys his way back into her life. I've always used that movie as an example of a toxic person to watch out for!

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