The New Chick-Flix

Image Credit: Laoise Tarrant

Despite many film critics calling time of death on the romcom as a genre in the 2000s, a slew of Netflix originals is breathing life back into the genre.

Every week, there seems to be a new teen Rom Com cropping up on Netflix. They all follow a strict storyline template: girl and boy meet, dislike each other, before suddenly liking each other, overcoming an obstacle, and inevitably walk into the sunset hand in hand. That is of course, until they return for the sequel and do it all over again.

There is a formulaic aspect linked to the success of these franchises, such as The Kissing Booth (2018, 2020, forthcoming 2021) movies and the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018, 2020) adaptations. Both sets of films have enjoyed international success, with the latter’s first instalment becoming one of Netflix’s most viewed original productions. Part of the recipe responsible for their success is the inherent innocence and universality of their central premise; a popular boy falling in love with a shy girl. This, combined with a good soundtrack and star-studded cast equals the achievement of a blockbuster cinema release.

The casting of both films is also responsible for a lot of their success, for both the movies and actors, respectively. In The Kissing Booth, we get the first look at Jacob Elordi, who plays love interest and bad boy, Noah Flynn. This role, the first that saw him receive major success, has undoubtedly benefited his career which saw him move into television in 2019 to star as Nate in Emmy award winning Euphoria. In the same vein, but on an arguably larger scale, Noah Centineo became a household name starring as Peter Kavinsky in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. 2018 was extraordinarily busy for Centineo, who also appeared in Sierra Burgess Is a Loser and Swiped, followed by The Perfect Date and Charlie’s Angels in 2019. 

There is a high demand for these movies, with all three films from both trilogies on track to be released within the next two years. After the overwhelming success of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, the decision was made to film the second and third instalment at the same time, which in hindsight, given the closure of movie sets and productions due to current restrictions, was a wise decision as the release date will likely remain unchanged.

Both projects are adaptations from books which were very successful in their own right, especially the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han, first released in 2014. The books remain very well represented on screen, with little changes made, so those who are waiting for the final instalment will likely get a good idea of how things will unfold if they pick up the book. In contrast, The Kissing Booth, written by Beth Reekles, was just a singular title. Only when the movie was made did Reekles begin to write the sequels.

Part of the reason these stories are seeing such success could also be down to the fact that there was something of a gap in the market for this genre of film. They are slightly more accessible age-wise than 13 Going on 30, but much more sophisticated than Camp Rock, for example. They have a truly successful formula that I find hard to see fault with; both trilogies deal with grief and loss, independence, finding yourself, and have a distinct air of coming-of-age and nostalgia to them. Largely unproblematic, these films can be enjoyed whether you are thirteen or twenty-three, making them enjoyable for a wide audience.