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The romantic comedy, as we understand it, is a Hollywood form as specifically American as the Western, especially in how it shapes and exports America’s image of itself.
Although romantic comedies were the favoured form of some of Hollywood’s most acclaimed writer-directors (like Frank Capra and Billy Wilder) in the mid 20th century, the genre has often been seen as lower prestige than those genres marketed at men. This was especially true in the first two decades of the 21st century when romantic comedies were at their commercial peak and Ireland had a disproportionately high amount of leading men at Hollywood’s top table.
In today’s episode, we consider how Ireland and Irishness feature in this most American of storytelling traditions. How is Ireland treated as a setting in love stories, and how much has that changed since The Quiet Man? What do Irish characters in stories set elsewhere represent? Are they protagonists, or a “manic pixie dream people”? And what of our own romantic comedies – are our film stars too serious to make them?
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