2020, a bad year for many things, has actually been a good year for romantic comedy TV shows. Two of the best of the year, the Hulu “reboot” of High Fidelity and HBO Max’s Love Life, seem to have little in common at first glance. Sure, they each have a young female lead, but Zoe Kravitz’s Rob and Anna Kendrick’s Darby couldn’t be more different personality-wise. What they have in common is a fully realized female protagonist whose personal growth is more important than her love life.
Romance is at the heart of each show — and it’s an important part of each season finale, to be sure, but Darby’s and Rob’s arcs are journeys in which they learn more about themselves and evolve into the best version of themselves. Only then do they become ready for a partner. Sadly, most female-led romantic comedy shows do not afford their main characters this, nor is the partner they end up with a realistic and healthy choice.
Think about it: we watched Carrie Bradshaw for six seasons, but the thing that grew the most was her wardrobe. She has hijinks-filled flings while chasing the toxic man who evades her, certainly propelled in part by his constant rejection of her. On other romantic comedy series, the character is going about her life waiting for the right person, but he’s been there all along! (The Mindy Project, Never Have I Ever, New Girl, Lovesick, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, etc., etc.)
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