The one thing all romantic comedies have in common? They celebrate the two things everyone wants in life—rom and com, of course. To honor that, we’re devoting a whole week to the genre. More on the rom-coms we love, past and present, here.
The ‘90s and early ‘00s was a golden era for Black romantic comedies. There were films that came before this time, of course—notably Sidney Poitier’s 1967 classic Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner— and even after, like Think Like a Man and Best Man Holiday. But seeing modern Black romance on screen reached a highpoint when films like Love Jones (1997), Brown Sugar (2002), Love & Basketball (2000), How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998), Deliver Us From Eva (2003), and Two Can Play That Game (2001) all came out within a few years of each other.
“Romantic comedies were a staple at that time,” Gary Hardwick, director of Deliver Us From Eva and The Brothers, tells Glamour. “Every spring, you knew there would be one or two or three around Valentine’s Day and then through the summer. For a long time, they were making hundreds of millions of dollars so it was a thriving market.”
As for the uptick in Black rom-coms specifically, Hardwick credits the uptick to the changes in educational patterns of Black men and women as well as the growth in the family. “You had a lot of black people going to college, myself included, because of the struggles of their parents and grandparents, and then those people want to tell different stories, more sophisticated stories, stories that are not necessarily linked to the struggles of our past.” In short, movie goers wanted to see how the Black working and middle class were doing, how they were thriving, and how they were dealing with love.
“What I am at a loss to explain is why did it stop?” Hardwick adds. “Because we haven’t stopped our progression. We haven’t stopped our growth.”