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Classic rom-com alternatives to watch this Valentine's Day

The repetitive tropes and unrealistic depictions of romance can often be tiring. The list below offers some alternatives to the classic rom-com that prioritises friendships and explores the often-overlooked complexities of relationships.

Fire Island (2022) // Courtesy of IMDb

By Elena Waller-Sanchez, Second Year, English

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the classic romantic comedy, the repetitive tropes and often unrealistic depictions of romance can be tiring especially if you are looking for a more refreshing take on love this Valentine’s Day. At this time of year, it is important to remember the different kinds of relationships that are worth celebrating even when idealised romantic relationships are often prioritised in the media. The list below offers some alternatives to the classic rom-com, with films and TV shows that prioritise friendships and explore the often-overlooked complexities of relationships.

Sex and the City (1998-2004)

While the plot focuses on finding love, strong female friendships lie at the heart of this classic series. From breakups to situation-ships and casual sex, Sex and the City embraces the often-overlooked dating struggles of a group of single friends, many of which still feel relevant twenty years after the show ended. Whether you are looking to settle down like Charlotte (Kristin Davis) or uninterested in long-term relationships like Samantha (Kim Cattrall), there will be a story for you to relate to. If you want a feel-good series, full of comedy and incredible 90s and early 00s fashion this may be the perfect watch. You could even make a few Cosmopolitans and binge-watch with a few friends this February 14th.

Normal People (2020)

This adaptation of Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel follows the complicated relationship between Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) as they struggle to evolve their relationship as their lives change between school and university. It is a love story that seems firmly grounded in reality, as life consistently gets in the way despite true love. From the pressures of school to mental health struggles, the series explores the significant life experiences and moments of growth to be found in all aspects of life. If you are looking for something heart-warming, yet also incredibly heart-breaking at moments, this may be the perfect series to watch this year.

Normal People (2020) // Courtesy of IMDb

Fire Island (2022)

In this charming modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, a group of friends try to find love on New York’s Fire Island with a few funny mishaps along the way. Though it adapts a classic romantic story, it foregrounds LGBTQ+ relationships and celebrates found family and queer culture. It is the close friendship between Noah (Joel Kim Booster) and Howie (Bowen Yang) where the primary conflict of the film arises and the reunion which feels most significant. Even the romantic relationships in the film are far from a typical love story, so this is a perfect choice if you are looking for a different take on the romantic comedy this year.

The Half Of It (2020)

When Ellie (Leah Lewis) agrees to write love letters to Aster (Alexxis Lemire) for Paul (Daniel Diemer), teen issues of sexuality, first love, complex family dynamics and new friendships arise in this coming-of-age story. It is the development of a love triangle between the three characters that gives way to the journey of self-discovery and personal growth that lies at the heart of the film. The overall message focuses on the significance of relationships in forging identity and gaining life experience, even if those relationships are far from perfect.

The Half of It (2020) // Courtesy of IMDb

Everything I Know About Love (2022)

Based on Dolly Alderton’s bestselling memoir of the same name, Everything I Know About Love celebrates friendship and its strength as romantic relationships are developed and lost. From bad dates to heartbreaks and lots of partying, this series perfectly captures the feelings of being single in your twenties, and the power that different relationships have on shaping us as people. With only seven episodes, it is a great quick watch for anyone looking to prioritise friendship and embrace being single this Valentine’s Day.

What are your favourite films and TV shows to watch on Valentine's Day?