8:30 pm EDT, July 6, 2018

Romantic comedies should have their own franchises

If action movies can have franchises, why not romcoms?

Because we could all do with a little more love in our lives (and on our screens).

Franchises are a staple in the action-adventure genre.

We’ve seen the Terminator try to kill Sarah Conner, protect a young John Conner, and then…become John Conner (it’s a weird franchise, y’all).

We’ve had four films chronicling the adventures of a straight-laced cop and his wild card partner, five films with Bruce Willis as John McClane — dating all the way back to when he had a full head of hair — and who even knows when we’ll see the end of the Fast and Furious franchise.

I know there’s a lot of discussion about the value of these franchises — a lot of “why is this even necessary?” And the answer, of course, is that it isn’t, really.

But they sure are a lot of fun.

My feeling is always that if you fall in love with a character or a cast or a fictional world, and there are still good or fun or exciting stories to tell, then why not keep telling those stories?

So, as long as they’re enjoyable, then I’m all for the franchise film.

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In fact, what I’d actually like is to increase the amount of franchises we see. But rather than just watching movie after movie of people foiling terrorist plots, or getting their kidnapped daughter back, or stealing cars, what I’d really love to start seeing are franchises dedicated to watching people fall in love and work to stay in love.

Beyond the big damn kiss

Romcom set it up

As much as I love the lead up to that final confession of love, and as much as I love the big damn kiss that comes at the end of the film, I sometimes feel like romantic comedies end just as the actual story is beginning.

A good romantic comedy makes you fall in love with both of the main characters. You’re essentially falling in love with other people’s love, so a good romantic comedy has to make you care about the leads so you care about them finding happiness with one another.

A great romantic comedy does this while also making you simultaneously love everyone else — the family, friends and co-workers — who already love the main characters.

Which means that at the end of great romantic comedy, you’ve basically fallen in love with everyone you spent an hour and a half watching onscreen.

Turning romantic comedies into franchises would allow us to stay connected with these individuals we’ve come to care about. We’d get to see their lives play out outside the epic first kisses and beyond the first big misunderstanding, and would be able live — for just a little bit longer — in this somewhat magical, whimsical world with individuals we care about and whose love we’ve come to love ourselves.

We’ve had a couple romantic franchises that have done this — Bridget Jones’s Diary had three films, all following Bridget Jones’ loves and losses. And while it’s less romantic comedy and more romantic drama, the Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight trilogy of films is an absolutely perfect example of how you can follow the same couple through the years and different points of their lives and still be both romantic and realistic.

A few current and upcoming romcom adaptations already have a potential franchise built in, thanks to their book origins. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, from which Love, Simon was adapted, already has a sequel released — Leah on the Offbeat — which takes place in the same world but focuses its story on Simon’s BFF, Leah, and her first love.

Crazy Rich Asians and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before — both being released in August — are actually just part one of a book trilogy. My hope is that they’re both successful enough that we’ll get to spend at least three movies worth with Rachel Chu and Lara Jean Song Covey.

It’s what we deserve.

Debunking the myth that happiness is boring

One of my biggest frustrations with television show writing is this prevailing idea that happy couples are boring couples. Because of this, writers will throw whatever random idea onto the screen to keep a couple from coupling up — anything from time travel to prolonged miscommunication to a full-grown child that shows up out of nowhere (I’ll never forgive you, Gilmore Girls).

Indeed, this very idea is the direct cause of many hours — sometimes years — of frustration and many instances of me shouting at the television to “just let them kiss already!”

And while romantic comedies often place an obstacle in between their two leads, you know going into a romcom that all will be resolved in two hours or less, and you’ll leave having seen a romantic first kiss and with warm, fuzzy feelings in your heart.

However, in their own way, romantic comedies also play into the sentiment that a happy couple is a boring couple. By ending the movie where most of us begin our own real life love stories — with the first date or the first kiss — romantic comedies can put forth their own notion that the exciting part of the story is in getting together.

Franchising romantic comedies would allow audiences to see that the romance doesn’t end once you kiss for the first time, or say I love you for the first time, or even when you say I do. Instead of just watching people fall in love, we could also see them working to stay in love, growing and changing with one another and falling deeper in love despite it all.

In fact, many of the best romantic paintings on television aren’t the ones that jerked us around for years with will-they/won’t-they dynamics and on-again/off-again relationships, but the ones which are long-term, committed couples.

Tami and Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights had the best onscreen marriage of all time, portraying the realities and dynamics of marriage. Holt and Kevin and Amy and Jake from Brooklyn 99 as well as April and Andy and Leslie and Ben from Parks and Rec show that falling in love and staying committed in love are both entertaining and romantic.

Romantic comedy franchises would allow us to see the excitement of falling in love, the happiness of being in love and contentment and dynamism of staying in love day after day, year after year.

And honestly, that’s the most romantic thing of all.

A little more love in our world

The last reason I want romantic comedy franchises is because I just want more romance onscreen.

Or, more specifically, I want more love on the big screen.

We have franchise after franchise detailing how terrible the world can be — movies rife with plots to destabilize governments, blow up cities, take over world, wipe out half of the universe. And yes, the bad guys always lose and the heroes always save the day in the nick of time, and you go into these movies knowing that’s how it’ll end.

And there’s absolute value to those types of films. Sometimes I want to turn my brain off and just have a good time watching things blow up and immerse myself in a world where I know everyone will get what they deserve and the good guys prevail.

But I also think there’s more than enough room — on our screens and in our world at large — for stories about the power of love on a smaller, more intimate scale. How love can change you or change the way you see the world; how it can empower you and help you to save yourself; how the best love stories begin with you loving yourself, first, and learning what you’re worth and what you deserve.

Basically, I’d like to be able to have some choice when it comes to my escapist fantasies — do I want to watch four movies about someone saving the day? Or do I want to watch four movies about two people in love?

Because yes, certainly love isn’t all you need.

But we could certainly use a little more of it, don’t you think?

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