Film Courage: Are romantic comedies driven by plot or character?
Pamela Jaye Smith: As a genre that has three parts, the plot is just there. You know, you get together, you get apart and then you get back together. So I don’t think it’s so much plot that drives it as it is character. That’s where we find our interest is in the people and how diverse are they and how opposite are they? Or where are their similarities? What is it that took them apart and how will they possibly get back together and who is helping them do that and who is against them doing that? So it’s more about character I think in a romantic comedy because it’s a genre and it has its tropes and it has its steps if those aren’t happening then you don’t have a romantic comedy. So character is the most important thing and that’s what you should be focusing on.
Film Courage: Let’s talk about the character archetypes because you have as I was saying earlier sort of the hero worshiper, you had the type-A ambitious one who doesn’t have time for a relationship, you might have sort of the hot girl that no guy is good enough for, or similar with a male character and then the shy types. What are some of the archetypes that we typically see in romantic comedies, either as the friend or the protagonist?
Pamela Jaye Smith: Some of the typical archetypes and in the book I did [Pamela’s book ROMANTIC COMEDIES: These Films Can Save Your Love Life!], there’s a whole section on each movie about the lover types and indeed a lot of what you just mentioned. There’s the cynical person. Now that’s always a real good one. Somebody who has been burned and disappointed in love. So the cynic is a wonderful archetype and I like that definition that a cynic is just a wounded romantic. So seeing that character change and go through a character arc can be very satisfying to us.
Also, the person who doesn’t even realize they need love, the clueless. Now that’s different from being a cynic, but the clueless person is just “Oh no, everything is fine. Maybe I’m in a loveless relationship, but it’s convenient. It works.” So they need to be waked up. So they’re the archetype of the person who needs to be awakened, that just kind of “What? Wow! Oh!”
And then you’ve got another good one is the bossy person who is always right and always in charge or always wants to be anyway…(Watch the video interview here on Youtube).
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