I Watched Every Single Netflix Original Rom-Com So You Don’t Have To

Spoiler alert: There’s 11. That’s a combined running time of 18 hours and 12 minutes.

2020 update: ‘Plus One’ and ‘Always be my Maybe’ should be up near the top of this list. ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 2' is awful, don’t go near it.

We seem to be living in the Rom-Com revival. Hugh Grant may be past his prime, but fear not, for a new generation of floppy-haired charming young men are here to take his place. Heading up this new era of rom-coms is Netflix, whose business strategy currently seems to be: We have enough money to produce a ridiculous amount of content and just see what sticks! Netflix aimed to produce 80 original films this year, and reportedly 700 (!) original TV shows, so there’s no shortage of binge-watch material out there. I’ve never been one to opt for a rom-com, but to figure out what the fuss was about I threw myself in the deep end and watched 11.

And Now, From Best to Worst:

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

This film gave me very conflicted feelings. Initially, I put it on and had to turn it off after about 15 minutes because I couldn’t stomach anymore horrible acting. You will physically find yourself cringing at some of the “Oh my god, we’re teenagers and we’re just so mean to each other” or “Look, we’re sisters and we just have such a quirky close relationship!” performances. Despite that, I really grew to love it. This film does have an unfair headstart because Noah Centineo is in my celebrity crush top 5, but it really is adorable. Even my cynical heart was melted by the chemistry between Lana and Noah, and somehow the bad performances and ridiculous premise just float away leaving you sitting there sniffling. I really hope we get to see Lana Condor offered loads of great roles, not just Noah Centineo, because she’s equally as talented.

Summary: Lana Condor and Noah Centineo are in love, and you can’t convince me otherwise.

Set It Up

If you’re going to watch a Netflix romcom, this is a definite contender. It’s got a sweet premise of two personal assistants setting their two selfish bosses up together so that they’ll be easier to work for. It’s got all the romcom ingredients you’d expect, with quirky sidekicks, love triangles and drunken kisses. Also, I have been in love with Lucy Liu since I watched Charlie’s Angels when I was about 9.

Summary: It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s a damn sight better than the other stuff on this list.

Sierra Burgess Is A Loser

There are some ideas that make you realise Netflix will produce absolutely anything. A high school rom-com about catfishing?Sounds great, green-light it. Although this film is undoubtedly weird, and the ending could do with more depth, there are some sweet moments. It’s refreshing to have a film focused around a girl who doesn’t meet high school’s exacting beauty standards but still conducts herself with confidence. Also, Noah Centineo is the saving grace of any rom-com, and as we’ve already mentioned, I may be slightly in love with him.

Summary: Guy meets girl, girl catfishes him for a really long time.

Happy Anniversary

After a five-week rom-com break, I finally got the determination together to soldier through the last two films and was actually pleasantly surprised by this one. It goes by very quickly, over almost before you’ve realised it’s begun, and I mean that in the best possible way. Starting a romance with the two main characters breaking up is unconventional, but works out for the better. It is however very odd watching Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Rec be a romantic lead. There’s chemistry, and the writing means the conversations feel real, if a little exaggerated (it is a rom-com after all).

In Summary: It ain’t half bad.

Love Per Square Foot

Alongside Netflix’s three French offerings, they also have a Hindi rom-com complete with overzealous lipsyncing and a whole scene dedicated to the chicken dance. The story is actually quite sweet, and at least there’s romantic chemistry between the two protagonists. Rather than just being a sickly sweet rom-com, it also shows a sincere story about a woman desperate to find independence by getting her own property in Mumbai. It’s often heartfelt, even if it’s a little melodramatic at times.

In summary: A sweet and dramatic romance.

I Am Not An Easy Man

Getting international, this is a French ‘rom-com’. It’s a very French version of a rom-com, full of ‘grabbing someone by the neck’ kisses and dark dramatic moments. There’s not a high school cafeteria to be seen, instead, it explores the inherently patriarchal structure of modern society. I’m always down for some feminist film, but this really isn’t a rom-com.

In summary: An edgy French version of What Women Want.

The Kissing Booth

This has to be the worst one on the list. I spent a lot of time laughing but it’s awful. They tried so desperately to make the next mean girls but it’s much more of a mean girl 2 car crash situation. It’s like a room full of 40-year-old men googled ‘hip slang’ and ended up with tondeaf moments such as “He touched my lady bump” and using the word “savage” in every scene. The basic premise is that Elle falls for her best friend’s brother Noah, despite that being the ultimate betrayal of their list of bizarre ‘friendship rules’ they made as kids. Both the guys have slightly creepy controlling moments, turns out Noah has forbidden every other guy in the school from taking Elle on a date and her best friend Lee says that she can’t date his brother because “You’re the one thing that I had which he didn’t”. Wild concept, you can’t claim your best friend as private property.

In summary: a more awkward high school musical-esque car crash, that is surprisingly feelgood despite the stupid.

To Each, Her Own

Excitement at this being the final film of my mission was also combined with the tragedy that this was another French rom-com. As we’ve already established, French people make wonderful films, but they don’t make romcoms, it’s always a rom-drama. This one holds true to the rule, with a lesbian woman’s life falling to pieces when she finds herself cheating on her girlfriend with a man. Thanks for keeping it light mes amis! Overall, it’s actually a really good film, but as a rom-com, it bloody sucks.

In Summary: You’ll like it, as long as you’re not looking for a romcom.

Candy Jar

My flatmate hated this film with a burning rage which just made it all the more entertaining to me. Just like Kissing Booth, no-one in this film can act and the plot is flawed at best. Objectively, the protagonists are the most pretentious and irritating teenagers alive, but you kind of love to hate them. If you’re looking for a film that is going to make you throw popcorn at the screen, you’re in luck.

In Summary: you’ll want to slap almost every person in this film, yet keep watching it anyway.

When We First Met

I think this film is trying to be like About Time, an actually good rom-com, but instead is just a guy complaining about the friend zone for a couple of hours. If you just watch the first 5 minutes, it’s a cute story about a first date, but watching the same sequence of events over and over again is a real waste of time. Also, I only see a baby Jack Black when I look at Adam Devine which means the chemistry is far from electric.

In Summary: Man child complaining about how he has no game.

Blockbuster

Un Autre film en francais! Watching these French films helps me feel as though I’m being ~cultural~ and keeping up my A-Level French rather than wasting all my time watching trash films. Weirdly this film starts with a painful break-up (classic edgy French move). Nothing happens in the first half hour of this movie that couldn’t be summed up in a 1-minute montage. To be honest, this whole film is pretty boring, I started scrolling through my phone whilst watching it because it’s reminiscent of watching paint dry.

In summary: Tous les personnages boudent pour deux longues heures.

Get out the champagne, paint the town red, start a round of applause, I’ve completed this mission at last. I honestly don’t know quite why I did this to myself, because I knew full well that I’m not a rom-com person. Having watched 11 over about 2 weeks (with a month break in between when I started to totally lose my marbles) I have a new found respect for just how hard it is to make a good romcom. We take for granted the classics like Love Actually, or Notting Hill, but it takes a lot to get a perfect balance of romantic chemistry and decent comedy. I really appreciate that Netflix has given us a whole new generation of rom-coms, but the results are a little hit and miss. My biggest take away from this: whoever is working for Netflix France needs a hug and a good night out.

Originally published at assortedramblingsblog.wordpress.com on December 19, 2018.

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