Film & TV

The Failure of the Netflix Romance

Image credit: Bridget Jones’s Diary 2001

By T. Ante

It’s late Friday night. You accidentally stumble across the classic What’s Your Number?, the glaring 2011 graphics littering across the high-definition screen, and it won’t be long before your eyes are graced with tight tight tank tops and long long shorts (possibly not Chris Evans’ best look, but iconic nevertheless). All too soon, the end credits—accompanied by a nostalgic early 2000’s tunes—start rolling. You are filled with the skin-buzzing anxiety of needing to fill the suddenly dark screen with more cliché, romantic, joyous miscommunication disguised by grainy colours and bad haircuts. 

Google proves fruitless, and before you know it, you have resigned yourself to Netflix. 

The deafening ba-dum greets your ears, accosting you with endless choices of bright bold block letters and a slew of less-than enticing teenagers in even less enticing faux American high schools. Where’s the heart? Where’s the complex understanding of the human soul? Where’s the humility of awful outfits, whiny women, and tall, beautiful men with deep voices who discover her on a journey of self-improvement? Netflix couldn’t have adapted Bridget Jones’s Diary if the script performed a strip tease in front of a whole board of writers. 

I’ll be the first to say it: feminism ruined romance. 

Why has Gen-Z become so determined to rob the intelligent, independent, young women on-screen of their insanely heteronormative and unhealthy attachment to the male gender? Maybe—just maybe—budding teen audiences do not need to be told that the most important thing in a woman’s life is her career (I’m looking at you Cinderella, 2021). Women desire fantasy, mystique, and the dream of a good romance sweeping them off their feet. I can promise you, screenwriters, women know that they are worth more than a man’s opinion of them. I’m sure they’ve had multiple pep talks at school about it this week alone. 

(Most) Women love romance. (All) Women do not love condescending scripts written by middle-aged men who insist on woefully misunderstanding feminism for the sake of a buck. It’s not cute to force feminist buzzwords onto a conventionally beautiful actress for the sake of frightened political correctness––Isn’t It Romantic certainly misunderstood that assignment. 

And that’s the crux of the fault. Netflix doesn’t understand that the rule of a well-written script can excuse its favoured nepotism, its brutal negligence of good acting, even its lack of backbone for individuality. And sacrificing quality for the sake of quick turnarounds, obnoxious advertising, and repetitive plots (not even considering the morose culture of re-boots) allows once more for the sacrifice of the feminine fantasy. Maybe this genre wouldn’t be the cold corpse forgotten in the morgue that it is, if it wasn’t catering to an audience men could not penetrate. Because that would involve actually listening to us, right? 
So, no, Netflix, we don’t want The Kissing Booth: Happily Ever After, we want the return of heartfelt declarations in the rain that make you resent your boyfriend.

Categories: Film & TV

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