Every genre has rules. A horror movie has to scare the audience, a romance has to have a love story, and romantic comedies are no different. In fact, traditional rom-coms have a shocking amount of rules. That said, there is the occasional movie in that genre that ignores all previous patterns set out before it, like these 17 rom-coms on Netflix that don't follow the rules.
Looking at classic rom-coms, it's easy to identify the romantic comedy rules (or tropes). There's the meet cute (aka the first meeting), the flirtation, and the awkward goofs that kick off a relationship. Now, depending on the rom-com, either the couple will get together and then break up or they'll play the will-they-won't-they-game until one party decides to deliver a dramatic declaration of love (Silver Linings Playbook has all these in one). And, no matter what happens, one party must always do something super embarrassing that she's later forced to apologize for (How to Lose A Guy In 10 Days).
Beyond plot, there are certain more stereotypical rules that rom-coms have been known to follow, most notably when it comes to gender roles. The girl is uptight and the guy is more fun and free (When Harry Met Sally, The Sure Thing), or the woman is desperate to get married and the man is unaffected (27 Dresses, Legally Blonde). Gender roles in rom-coms tend to be the toughest ones to beak, and not all the movies on this list of 17 rom-coms that don't follow the rules do it. But, they all break some kind of rom-com rule, and for that we're grateful.
1'The Incredible Jessica James'
The Incredible Jessica James fully breaks the rom-com gender role, with a protagonist so confident and sure of herself, it derails the entire rom-com narrative. The end result is a movie that's totally different from the romantic comedies you've seen before.
Drinking Buddies is a romantic comedy, but with a dramatic edge. Talk about breaking the rules, the film follows the close friendship of two co-workers who indulge in their flirty connection despite both being in committed relationships.
Life Partners is like three rom-coms in one, but what makes it different is that it prioritizes the non-romantic relationship between BFFs Sasha and Paige over any romantic subplots.
4'Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World'
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is kind of depressing, which definitely goes against the general rom-com vibe.
5'2 Days In New York'
2 Days in New York isn't your average rom-com because it starts with the couple already fully in love and together. Instead of the comedy coming from a new or struggling relationship, it comes from one half of the couple's crazy French family.
6'Your Sister's Sister'
If you're looking for a major twist on the one-night-stand trope, then Your Sister's Sister is the perfect rom-com rule breaker.
Begin Again hits a lot of the rom-com plot points — the meet cute, the bonding montage, redemption, etc. — but without any explicit romance.
Operator is a romantic comedy about a relationship falling apart, making it a bit more of a coming of age story than typical rom-com.
9'Rumor Has It'
When the rom-com is a) a meta exploration of The Graduate and b) a generation-bending romp, you know it breaks its fair share of rules.
10'Bridget Jones' Baby'
As sad as it sounds, Bridget Jones' Baby breaks one very specific rom-com rule by not slut-shaming its protagonist for sleeping with two men in a short period of time.
11'The Heartbreak Kid'
The Heartbreak Kid breaks the rom-com rules by actually being a romantic comedy inside a romantic comedy.
What's more fun than seeing a couple come together? Watching a couple fall apart!
13'Something's Gotta Give'
Something's Gotta Give includes a mom and daughter basically switching boyfriends so, yeah, I'd say it breaks some rom-com rules.
14'For A Good Time Call'
For A Good Time Call is a romantic comedy, but about best friends. Cheers to girlfriends!
Another rom-com that chooses to focus on female friendships over men, Frances Ha breaks a lot of rules, mainly that it doesn't have one specific love story.
16'In The Land Of Women'
In the Land Of Women is a bit of a bait and switch when it comes to being a rom-com. It starts out like a rom-com about a 20-something man recovering from a breakup and ends as a drama about a mother and daughter.
Depending on how you see it, Beginners is a romantic comedy that flirts with drama or a drama flirting with romantic comedy. Either way, it has a talking dog in it (sort of), so, you're welcome.
Who said breaking the rules wasn't cool?