The best romantic comedy (rom-com) is not something easily selected and agreed upon. With a plethora of entries debuting across years and years of entertainment, the genre is rich with excellent choices. From classics such as When Harry met Sally to modern hits such as Palm Springs, you will be put in the spot if someone were to ask you which is the best out of the bunch.
Thankfully, if you ever find yourself in that position you won’t be persecuted over a different pick since there are that many good romcoms; no one’s going to blame you if your favourite is Sleepless in Seattle or Forgetting Sarah Marshall as both are fantastic rom-coms that will be remembered fondly for a long time. However, the same can’t be said for Netflix original rom-coms.
Netflix hosts a ridiculously large catalog of shows and movies, ranging from classics and modern ones selected from across the globe. On it you can find the movies you love and adore that made it to the big screen in the past. While that in itself is already a recipe for success, simply carrying these sure hits, even rom-coms, is not the final destination for Netflix. The entertainment giant has been producing its own content to put in the mix with the successful shows at its disposal.
For years now, Netflix has produced a staggering amount of shows and movies of many genres for audiences browsing its service. While the amount itself has been something to laud at, the quality of these products have been varying in degree. Specifically when it comes to rom-coms, Netflix hasn’t been doing very well. As an avid consumer of rom-coms apart from other genres, I have taken to the rom-com tag on Netflix shortly after beginning my subscription.
At first, I rewatched every rom-com I knew and love again, this time without the added difficulty or having to find a stream. After I was done with those, I find myself at a loss as I was out of good rom-coms (ones that already existed). It was then that my attention was brought to the Netflix original rom-coms. Ignoring the early warning signs in the mass-produced looking posters that were bland at best, I eventually dipped my toes into them, as I was running low on options. It was then that I noticed a pattern; Netflix original rom-coms were not great. They weren’t exactly awful, but you can’t call most of them a good watch either. A lot of the movies were lacking in style, emotion and humour, making them almost forgettable after a few days. What was most unfortunate was that most of the movies were extremely lukewarm and inoffensive, which failed to make me resonate with them at any level, as much as I tried to like them. A good rom-com is always extremely sweet and funny, striking that perfect balance to make you laugh your heart out and swoon with relative ease. Sadly, the Netflix rom-coms failed on that front almost always.
At that point I had watched a significant amount of rom-coms such as When We First Met (2018), Isn’t It Romantic (2019), Always Be My Maybe (2019), Love Wedding Repeat (2020) and The Perfect Date (2019) to name a select a few. If you’ve watched these, then as a discerning consumer of rom-coms, you have to find yourself desperately wanting more. I was ready to throw in the towel and call it a day for Netflix original romcoms until I came across an unsuspecting rom-com called Set it Up (2018). It suffered from the poor poster syndrome so I never was tempted to even click and see what it was about, but that day I did. And what I saw was goodness.
Set It Up is an excellent rom-com, perhaps the only proper good Netflix original rom-com in a sea of mediocrity that was plaguing the Netflix originals rom-com tag. The movie tells the story of two office workers struggling with their hard to please bosses, eventually leading them to orchestrate a plan to have the bosses date so that they can have more time for themselves. This eventually happens and the main leads find themselves in each other’s company all the time to keep the ruse going. The result? They slowly find themselves attracted to each other. From the brief summary, you can tell that this movie has what it takes to be seriously wacky due to the setup. This was a trait shared by most Netflix original rom-coms too, the setup is there. However, contrary to its peers, Set It Up doesn’t fail to make itself hilarious at every turn. The interaction of the main couple is quick, snappy, and witty, the humour works and you find your eyes glued to them because of their electric chemistry that was displayed very early on in the movie.
Set It up rarely makes a wrong turn and gets all the important things right. The leads orchestrating their bosses’ “fateful” encounter was seriously funny, their unexpected bonding moments were heartfelt and immersive, the drama doesn’t linger too long or bog the movie too much, and it is all tied neatly in a nice bow with a cute and cheeky ending that harkens back to one of the earlier parts of the movie. Set It Up didn’t have the right to be as good as it was, at least not more than its successors and predecessors of the Netflix original ilk. Be that as it may, it impressed me greatly as it left me addicted to the feel-good buzz I had at the end of it. Nothing Netflix produced after could quite replicate Set It Up, and I don’t expect it to. Perhaps Set It Up was the only outlier, and we are doomed to watch mediocre Netflix rom-coms in the future. I don’t have much expectations, but I will keep my eyes peeled for the second coming of Set It Up.
As of writing this, I have rewatched the movie 4 times, and I can safely guarantee that that number will only grow in the future. If you ask me, I’m absolutely OK with being “set up” to this.
Hartwick is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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