Rom-coms too formulaic for long-term TV success

With the extreme success of Mindy Kaling’s brainchild “The Mindy Project” last season, TV producers decided to finally jump onto the bandwagon I personally have been riding for my entire life: the often underappreciated rom-com. While everybody knows the typical sequence of events for a successful (and unsuccessful) rom-com, the idea of taking that stereotypical formula and spanning it out into a multi-season television show is daunting. Of course, that didn’t stop the industry from trying to inundate its viewers with not one, not two, but a total of four new shows that marketed themselves as TV rom-coms: “Selfie,” “Manhattan Love Story,” “A to Z” and “Marry Me.”

At the publication of this issue, at least two of these shows, “A to Z,” “Selfie,” and “Manhattan Love Story,” have been cancelled. Of course, all three shows will continue to air their filmed and produced episodes, so they aren’t quite out of the game yet, but their networks have given up hope on them, so we should, too.

On the other hand, “Marry Me” is still up and running. In fact, NBC recently ordered five more episodes for the show, bringing it’s numbers to a solid 18 episode season, with room for more episodes to be ordered in the future if need be.

While “A to Z,” “Manhattan Love Story” and “Selfie” all boasted strong casts, the writing failed to be strong enough to continue to bring in viewers on a weekly basis. One of the lures of a RomCom is the fact that you know the couple is going to end up together in the end, but “A to Z” fought against that structure with their premise, which emphasized the fact that the two love-birds the audience was supposed to root for were eventually going to break up. “Selfie” was marketed as a modern day “Pygmalion” but its quirky characters never really found their stride amidst the bright colors and flashy world of Eliza Dooley. And “Manhattan Love Story” was just so bogged down in its almost insulting internal monologues that I personally could care less if the leads ended up together and really just wanted to smack them both and tell them to get over themselves.

Which leaves us with “Marry Me.” With plenty of potential for improvement, the show really puts a lot of pressure on its two leads: Casey Wilson (of “Happy Endings” fame) and Ken Marino (of “Party Down” fame). The writing is sometimes stiff, but both Wilson and Marino have such great chemistry that I am willing to overlook the overwrought language. “Marry Me” also took a new approach to the typical RomCom: instead of focusing on the beginning of the relationship, we are thrown right into the middle, with Wilson’s character being frustrated by the lack of commitment by her boyfriend of six years. What’s great about “Marry Me” is the fact that we are seeing a couple in the midst of the relationship, after the typical happily ever after we stop at in the movie theater. The show has a strong foundation set up and I’m excited to see how it works through its kinks throughout the rest of the season. Suffice to say, NBC did a good job by committing to this rom-com.


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