The Single Girl in the Big City abounds in rom-coms, from Mary Tyler Moore to Carrie Bradshaw to Mindy Lahiri. Single girl (usually white, usually approachably pretty, usually doesn’t know it) moves to the city, has a few starry-eyed establishing shots, moves into an apartment that in reality would cost $1.5 kazillion, gets into scrapes at work, bumbles through some dating misadventures, probably to an upbeat soundtrack. Bonus points for a shopping montage in the middle.
Please let Amy Schumer’s upcoming Trainwreck blow this tired, formulaic nonsense back to the dark ages. At the very least, it looks ready to tweak the old recipe — a shade dirtier, with an ingenue as the non-monogamous commitment-phobe, dating a dude baffled by her behavior. At best, we could have on our hands a pop-culture unicorn: a smart rom-com.
Why is this such an anomoly, a momentous event if Amy Schumer comes through?
Rom-coms traditionally treat characters and audiences alike as mind-bogglingly stupid. Case study, Love Actually.
Every storyline insults a human life form — men, women, children. See: Colin Firth falling in love with his housekeeper who can’t speak English, a potentially complex storyline that explores nothing of the sort. Or see Keira Knightley learning that her new husband’s best friend has been in love with her all along. He confesses this after the wedding. We’re supposed to find this touching.
As it’s Honest Trailer says, each plotline is “creepy and depressing when you actually stop to think about it:”
Trainwreck, by contrast, brings us Schumer, a comedy pyrotechnician who regularly obliterates the sort of treacle on display in Love Actually or Shopaholic or Notting Hill or The Other Woman (I could go on for days). She shreds conventions such as power dynamics between men and women, gender stereotypes, and, below, how the culture views aging women:
Her mocking isn’t an attack on men alone. She also targets women suckered by manipulative garbage like pop songs that tell you that you’re totally beautiful on the inside, really:
Or child beauty pagent culture:
And check out her satisfying appearance on The Bachelorette — which later prompted ABC to extend her an offer of a stint as the one and only Bachelorette, in a WTF move that ranks with the Bush administration inviting Stephen Colbert to speak at the White House Press Correspondents Dinner in 2006.
In other words, Amy Schumer makes her living eviscerating everything that turns rom-coms into bullshit. Witness her blow up shopping montages:
Amy Schumer really, really gets it. Having her at the helm of a rom-com is sure to be ballsy, subversive, and pants-pissingly funny. And maybe, in a phrase I’d usually choke on, a rom-com that ranks among the smartest movies of the summer.