You Can Now Stream 22 Hard-to-Find Films From Black Cinema’s Earliest Pioneers On Netflix

In 2015, Kino Lorber released a treasure trove from American history in a DVD box set, Pioneers of African-American Cinema. Hours upon hours of feature-length and short films spanning the 1910s to the 1940s were featured, from Oscar Micheaux’s famously searing indictment of white America’s love affair with preserving whiteness and lynching, Within Our Gates, to writer Zora Neale Hurston’s short documentary Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940. Many of the films in the collection can be difficult to view in any format, much less streaming—but Netflix has made it easy to watch some of them, right now, as film writer Monica Castillo helpfully pointed out on Twitter earlier today. As a document showcasing the work of early black filmmakers who paved the way for the Spike Lees, Julie Dashes, and Ava DuVernays of today, it’s invaluable. Even if it weren’t Black History Month, this collection would certainly be worth checking out. (Note: A couple of the films are paired together via Netflix, making the total number actually 22, not 20.)
There are quite a few gems here, particularly Spencer Williams’ Body and Soul, starring Paul Robeson as an escaped prisoner who poses as an honorable reverend to a small black town, as well as The Bronze Buckaroo, starring the oft-forgotten black singing cowboy, Herb Jeffries.

Beyoncé Has Gifted Us All With Even More Ridiculous (Underwater!) Maternity Photos

According to Art News, the shoot, titled “I Have Three Hearts,” is the work of Awol Erizku, a Bronx-raised, Los Angeles-based photographer who is also responsible for the famous photo of Bey and husband Jay-Z at the Louvre, edited so that the portrait behind them features a black version of Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring. On Wednesday, Beyoncé bestowed the gift of hope upon her fans and the world with an announcement via Instagram that she is pregnant with twins. There is plenty of regal and divine imagery in the mix, too, with apparent allusions to Egyptian queen Nefertiti, Roman diety Venus, and Yoruba goddess Osun. A selection of photos are below, and you can find the entire shoot on Beyoncé’s website. Among the dreamy underwater shots and vivid floral portraits are photos of Beyoncé’s first pregnancy with now-five-year-old daughter Blue Ivy, as well as shots of her mother and grandmother. That announcement, and the portrait that accompanied it, quickly broke the record for most-liked Instagram post ever (almost 8.5 million, and counting), a record previously held by a Selena Gomez ad for Coke. The full pregnancy album is also interspersed with poetry from Warsan Shire, who was prominently featured on Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade. The Beyhive’s adoration was rewarded again on Thursday, when Beyoncé released the rest of her gorgeous maternity shoot, which is much more elaborate than the initial, Sears-y photo would suggest.

An “Inspiring” Movie About the John and Yoko Romance Is in the Works

Ono herself will serve as one of the producers, along with Michael De Luca (Moneyball, The Social Network), Josh Bratman, and Anthony McCarten, who will also write the screenplay. Deadline reports that the polarizing romance of John Lennon and Yoko Ono will be the subject of an upcoming feature film. According to De Luca, “The story will focus on ripe and relevant themes of love, courage and activism in the U.S.—with the intention of inspiring today’s youth to stand up for and have a clear vision for the world they want.”
It’s difficult not to read into that description a direct nod to the current state of U.S. affairs, with major protests across the country now cropping up on what seems to be becoming a weekly basis: comparisons to the Vietnam era, when Lennon and Ono were prominent public figures of the anti-war movement, have abounded following Donald Trump’s election. McCarten is probably best known for penning The Theory of Everything, the rather rote biographical drama starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as Stephen and Jane Hawking—hopefully Lennon and Ono’s bizarrely fascinating relationship proves to be more engaging (and perhaps, as De Luca says, “inspiring”) onscreen subject matter.

Samantha Bee Shreds Trump’s ‘Not-a-Muslim’ Ban (a.k.a. “the Healthcare.gov of Islamophobia”)

The executive order’s sudden implementation on Friday left customs officers and border agents scrambling to figure out which immigrants would be allowed to enter the United States. “Remember on Gilmore Girls when Paris Geller staffed the school newspaper with her most loyal friends with no regard for talent level?” Bee asked. And he has the nuclear codes. Donald Trump’s definitely-not-a-Muslim-ban isn’t just unconstitutional—it’s also a big ol’ mess. But as Bee points out, Obama didn’t actually “ban” immigrants from Muslim-majority countries—he just slowed down the visa process for Iraqis as tighter screening procedures were put in place, a distinction which Bee called “the difference between going to the DMV on a busy day and going to the post office on Sunday.”
In an additional segment, Bee slammed Trump’s decision to suddenly fire Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce the ban, because the first and apparently only requirement to work in the Trump administration is unwavering loyalty to Trump. Paul Ryan called this “confusing.” But Full Frontal’s Samantha Bee says that’s an understatement, comparing the ban’s enactment to the problem-riddled rollout of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act website back in 2013, only worse: “[The ban] was the Healthcare.gov of Islamophobia; the Ford Pinto of intolerance; a big fat cocktail of New Coke and Zima poured onto a Microsoft Zune playing an endless loop of the Star Wars prequels’ Jar Jar Binks scenes.”
Some of the ban’s defenders point to the previous administration’s immigration restrictions as a justification. That’s right—the United States is now being led by a man whose attitude is a mix of Kylo Ren, Richard Nixon, and a fictional, Machiavellian, high school mean girl.

The 34 Best Romantic Comedies of the Past Decade, and Where to Stream Them

Whatever the reason, the success of Silver Linings Playbook proves you can still get great young actresses into rom-coms, as long as you dress them up as Oscar-worthy movies first. —EAJ
Available to stream on Hulu. As the show progresses, the high-flying fantasyland elements are largely reserved for its melodramatic telenovela plots, while Jane’s personal life becomes one of the most grounded, emotionally realistic elements of the show. In Her, the meet-cute between Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and Samantha (voice of Scarlett Johansson) is really a voice-only encounter between a man and his Siri or Alexa. This article originally appeared in Vulture. Catastrophe (2015– )
Truly, a romance between two adults! The One I Love (2014)
Charlie McDowell’s film follows a couple (Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss) who take a weekend retreat at a secluded estate in hopes of repairing their marriage. The 20-something Josh (series creator Josh Thomas) comes out in the pilot and, while also caring for his depressed Mum, tries to make things work with a string of very cute boyfriends. story, everyone is awful. The worst thing it did was give it a new one as generic as the old one was disgusting. Top Five does fall into a few troubling well-worn tropes, but the film’s commitment to remixing the Cinderella fairytale, its critique of Hollywood life, the exploration of hip-hop culture, and its depiction of an interracial romance that isn’t black and white, all make it worthwhile. There are enough TV romantic comedies that speak to the universal parts of falling in and out of love. Jane the Virgin (2014– )
In its earliest episodes, Jane the Virgin appears to be a classic romantic-comedy—uncomplicated by ambiguity, unhappy endings, or the mundane realities of normal life that have come to characterize more modern romance stories. In a World … (2013)
The best thing about In a World … No, wait. But beyond that, it’s also got a zany, high-octane energy fueled by the elastic face and physical comedy of its star, who keeps falling into the very unsexy, virgin trap of trying to act very sexy. Cyrus (2010)
Just when we thought the rom-com genre had all but bludgeoned the love triangle to death, Jay and Mark Duplass came up with a fresh spin on the trope, making the third person a possessive, childlike 21-year-old who doesn’t like seeing his mother with a new man. Catastrophe, created and written by the transatlantic duo of Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, starts with the premise of what might happen when two fairly mature and reasonable people have a vacation relationship (lots of sex), accidentally conceive a baby, and then decide to keep it and raise it together. (Can’t beat the Replacements-heavy soundtrack, either.) —Charles Bramesco
Available to stream on Netflix. What makes this film more than just “When Harry Met Sally but with assholes“ is the complex relationship the characters have with sex, which runs the gamut from transcendent to just plain fun to disappointing. And yet, Definitely, Maybe ends up being more than the sum of its many conventions. Rock plays a comedian and recovering alcoholic who is trying to transition from lowbrow blockbusters to a serious film career. Another one? Results (2015)
Andrew Bujalski’s shaggy comedy at first seems like it will center on an out-of-shape man (Kevin Corrigan) who signs up for personal-training classes. The effortlessly cool amusement park attendant was Stewart’s first great role, concealing more insecurity and dysfunction than Jesse Eisenberg’s heartsick James could initially realize. Of course, protagonist Rebecca Bunch, played by the unceasingly energetic Rachel Bloom, is emotionally unstable and, as the series begins, willing to do anything to snag her man of choice, including spontaneously moving all the way across the country. Slate plays Donna with the perfect mix of humor and immaturity, while Jake Lacy’s Max is charming, and a little lame—the two of them have an uncanny chemistry that works better as intimacy than full-on sex appeal, which matches the movie’s perceptiveness about the awkwardness of a new romance. What made the series new when it debuted in the fall of 2012 was how aware it was of its own references. They become good friends but develop romantic feelings that make things complicated. Sex here isn’t a consummation; instead, it happens early and awkwardly. Carol is passionate about own voice-over work, but her career is swallowed up in her father’s massive ego—as a voice-over veteran, his syrupy masculine voice is the industry standard. But Jane the Virgin’s modernity is both underplayed and profound. While the show hasn’t caught fire the way other Netflix originals have, it’s a sweet-hearted surprise for anyone who stumbles across it in their recommendations. If conventional rom-coms overlook the concerns and emotions a real woman might express, this one took that a step further by cutting out the real woman altogether, and showing us how impossible it is to exist in a partnership when one partner isn’t fully present.—JC
Available to rent on Amazon. But Drinking Buddies, by mumblecore auteur Joe Swanberg, zigs instead of zags; the result is a movie that’s more honest than most about the realities of what makes relationships work. (That schlubby Seth Rogen is paired up with beautiful Katherine Heigl was less revolutionary, but would be no less common in the rom-coms that followed.) —Nate Jones
Available to rent on Amazon. Reynolds’s character starts out working on the Clinton campaign and ends up a disgruntled corporate schmuck. She struggles to balance parenting responsibilities with her son’s father, and the sex with her new husband isn’t great at first. —CB
Available to stream on Netflix. Its heroes, Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust), are both selfish, unlikable people who, after an aggressively not cute meet-cute at a corner market, try to be in a relationship with one another. When they and their partners take a double date to a lakeside cabin, you think you know which way things are going to go. —Madeleine Buckley
Available to rent on Amazon. See also: How the CW Mastered the Superhero Rom-Com Things get even more complicated and heartbreaking when the original couple both fall for the doubles. Insecure (2016– )
”Every black girl that went to college likes Drake,” an old boyfriend tells Issa Rae in the Insecure pilot. But it leads to flirtation, then sexual attraction, and then possibly genuine feeling, raising the question: Can a man love a woman when the woman is not real? Glossy candlelit love scenes are out, replaced by rawer and more naturalistic depictions of sex. —HH
Available to rent on Amazon. —AJB
Available to stream on Amazon Prime and Hulu. —Tara Abell
Available to stream on Amazon with a Showtime subscription. There’s room for all of them on our list of the best romantic comedies of the past ten years. Over the course of the series, they fail miserably at it when their own expectations are not met. On television and in film, creators have been granted the freedom to upend traditional expectations for the genre. Like any other couple, these two have their differences, but they gradually bond over the slices of common ground they find in spite of them. Master of None (2015– )
For several reasons, Master of None is a paradigm for the new indie romantic comedy. Catastrophe always brings a reality smackdown to keep our characters tethered to the ground, but it keeps the faith that the couple, and the viewers, are in this. Lovesick / Scrotal Recall (2014 – )
The best thing Netflix ever did was change the name of this British series when it picked it up for a second season. (There is even a frank, hilarious conversation about female masturbation.) More than that, Sleeping With Other People goes against the usual vision of falling in love as a magical happenstance in favor of something more complex: Love isn’t just an emotion, it’s a choice. —CB
Available to rent on Amazon. That’s not what happens at all. And while there are still plenty of projects about good-looking white people falling in love in New York, the explosion of creative outlets available has also led to new voices and new kinds of romances. —JM
Available to rent on Amazon. The movie catalyzed a certain millennial aesthetic, but don’t hold that against it: It’s still a remarkably clear-eyed look at love and memory. Director Mike Mills brings the same bone-deep empathy to Hal’s late-in-the-game bid at true love that he does to the earnest romance between the younger stars. The only difference is, the thought of them being together is the most toxic, repulsive idea imaginable. Their flawed courtship gives a strong emotional foundation to this nostalgic remembrance of what it feels like to be young, bored, and spinning your wheels. Season two available to stream at CWtv.com. Adventureland (2009)
Having a shitty summer job is a universal rite of passage, but we should all be so lucky to have met someone like Kristen Stewart’s Em on the clock. You’re the Worst (2014– )
Gretchen (Aya Cash) and Jimmy (Chris Geere) hook up in the first episode of You’re the Worst after begrudgingly attending a wedding. A fear of becoming the next Katherine Heigl? Plus, Zoe wears some fun shirts. Structurally, Master of None barely even follows a familiar romantic arc, preferring instead to rely on linked stand-alone episodes that operate more like a short-story cycle than a single text. Please Like Me (2013– )
Amid the paucity of romance stories with gay leads, Australian comedy Please Like Me stands out for its unpretentious sweetness and surprising complexity. Season three available to stream on CWtv.com. Bridesmaids (2011)
After the success of Judd Apatow films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, it felt like the rom-com was officially shifting its attention toward man-child protagonists. Jonah Hill is sublimely off-putting in the title role, a constant saboteur of the budding relationship between his mama Marisa Tomei and suitor John C. The show never gets cloying, in part because our protagonists are too gimlet-eyed to fall for any bullshit, ooey-gooey courtship, but also because having a child when you’re no longer 22 years old means increasing health risks. But the sharp honesty of the song-and-dance numbers—”Settle for Me,” the breakup ode “It Was a Shit Show,” the delusional “We’ll Never Have Problems Again”—and the romantic disappointments that befall every character are confirmation that what’s actually crazy are the fairy tales and rom-coms that brainwashed Rebecca Bunch in the first place.—Jen Chaney
Season one available to stream on Netflix. As an intense story about the perils of idealizing the people you claim to love, and the impossibility of living up to this ideal, The One I Love is worth watching for Moss’s excellent performance alone. It spends time making self-aware observations about dating in the modern era. Love (2016 -)
Love is not a great show. What If (2013)
If I told you there was a great rom-com about smart young urbanites starring Zoe Kazan and Adam Driver, I know you’d roll your eyes at me. Mindy Lahiri was someone who feasted off ‘90s rom-coms, but from the beginning, The Mindy Project has gone its own way, leaving plenty of ambiguity about whether there really is a happily ever after. The film stars Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie as two college acquaintances who lose their virginity to each other, then reconnect 12 years later. The movie is a fine absurdist comedy, with droll performances and a wicked sense of humor that teeters on that thin line between comedy and death. is that it serves as a departure from the jobs of rom-coms past: Lake Bell’s Carol isn’t a chatty gossip columnist, a disorganized event planner, or even especially career obsessed. Younger (2015– )
Younger is founded on one of the most familiar, staid romantic comedy tropes – its heroine has to disguise something about her true nature, and her secret becomes a major obstacle in her search for love. Instead, she’s an unambitious and bedraggled voice coach. Despite reports to the contrary, the romantic comedy is not dead. Her (2014)
A movie in which a piece of technology falls in love with a human? It’s a rom-com about people who think they’re done with romance, but keep falling into it anyway. When most of the characters on this show wade into even mildly sentimental waters, they dash out of the ocean screaming in horror and running as fast as they can. Insecure is funny, but much of its humor comes from how it centers the black experience. —Kathryn VanArendonk
Seasons one and two available to stream on Netflix. The Proposal (2009)
A high-powered executive hastily strong-arms an underling into marrying her when visa issues threaten to deport her to Canada, but to pull off the scheme, she’ll have to travel to an Alaskan hamlet to meet his folks. Alex Jung
Available to stream on Amazon Prime. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015– )
”When you call her crazy, you’re just calling her in love.” That’s a line from the season-two theme song for this daffy and savage musical rom-com, and it’s a fair summary of what Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is about: the wrongheaded idea, often perpetuated by romantic comedies, that women are emotionally unstable and willing to do anything to snag a man. —Angelica Jade Bastién
Available to stream on Amazon with a Showtime subscription. 500 Days of Summer (2009)
Director Marc Webb throws out every trick in the Twee 101 textbook—candy-colored visuals, musical numbers, split-screen sequences—in his debut feature, and what do you know, it works! Season three available to buy on Amazon. —HH
Available to stream on HBO. —Gazelle Emami
Available to stream on Netflix. Russell’s dialogue crackles, and the Philadelphia locations are the opposite of glossy, but in true rom-com form, the whole movie rests on the chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, as two broken people who are clearly made for each other. She’s cheating on her longtime boyfriend with a married ex, while his quest for casual dalliances borders on sex addiction. While there is a plot, director Judd Apatow makes plenty of time for lazy scenes of 20-something slackers hanging out. —AJB
Available to stream on Amazon Prime. —JC
Seasons one and two available to stream on Hulu. Things take a turn straight out of The Twilight Zone when they discover their doppelgängers in the guesthouse. It’s the sort of improbable premise that only exists to set up crowd-pleasing hijinks for two charming movie stars, and luckily, watching Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds gradually embrace their natural chemistry is a simple, immediate strain of moviegoing pleasure. Results is a delightful study in what happens when people fall in love over the same obsessions—in this case, fitness itself. —JC
Available to rent on Amazon. Obvious Child is full of these cutsey moments that blend sweetness and frankness. Drinking Buddies (2013)
Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson are friends who are dating other people, even though they’re obviously into each other. But it’s the film’s exploration of how couples fall in and out of love that truly makes it a worthy entry. —CB
Available to rent on Amazon. —KV
Available to buy on Amazon. —NJ
Available to rent on Amazon. It’s like Love Actually, with less cynicism, and more shirtless Ryan Gosling. The show, based on Coel’s own experiences living in Tower Hamlets, is unlike anything else you might see on television. Sleeping With Other People (2015)
Writer-director Leslye Headland proves in her second film that she has a talent for creating rich portraits of some of the ugliest human behavior. Are they just meant to be idealized versions of themselves, or is something more sinister going on? —JM
Available to stream on Netflix. “[Drake] just gets us,” Issa responds—and that “us” is significant. Jane the Virgin’s insistence on her everyday humanity, combined with its simultaneous commitment to her happiness is quietly, ebulliently modern. Amid all that, Younger has really shined in its ability to present Liza’s love triangle in a surprisingly balanced way, and in centering on her career and her female friendships rather than her relationship status. The Mindy Project (2012– )
In so many ways, The Mindy Project feels like the project that led the charge for the new rom-com, with its bright colors, obsession with romance, and hyperbolic and dramatic protagonist, Mindy Lahiri (played by show creator Mindy Kaling). But it quickly finds its home in the push-pull dynamics between the two personal trainers (Cobie Smulders and Guy Pearce, both maniacally intense) who start training him. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Five years before La La Land, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone shared their first onscreen romance in this twisty rom-com, which follows the complicated relationships of one family, from marriage and divorce to friendship, first crushes, and unrequited love. Warm Bodies (2013)
The logline—”romance slowly blossoms between a zombie and his human crush”—sounds like a film student’s cutesy senior thesis, but that narrative hook ends up as a rich metaphor for all the personal baggage that keeps people in love apart. Contrary to Hall & Oates, just because someone makes your dreams come true, doesn’t mean it’s the real thing. In the end, it turns out everyone’s connected! —EAJ
Available to stream on Netflix. It’s a fitting heir to How I Met Your Mother, no matter what it’s called. —NJ
Available to rent on Amazon. Please Like Me adapts the rom-com’s stylistic quirks—flattering lighting, pastel colors, gorgeous shots of food – to modern rom-com stories about everything from awkward sex to homophobic family members. Ryan Reynolds, back when he was just an ordinary dude with a perfectly symmetrical face, tells of his affairs with three different women he does not deserve, all in order to finally explain his divorce to his daughter. In this L.A. —Hunter Harris
Available to stream on Amazon Prime. The relationship continues but these two reprobates keep on being the kind of assholes who cheat and stalk and get off on visiting murder scenes, even though it seems like maybe they could love each other in a real way. The Lobster (2015)
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’s dark rom-com stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz as two single people in a dystopian society that really hates single people. —CB
Available to rent on Amazon. —KV
Available to stream on Netflix. Enough Said’s west side L.A. I don’t even like Love. There’s a love triangle, there’s a pregnancy, there are breakups and reunions and comedic obstacles. Both are adamant that their encounter will not lead to a long-term relationship. —Jackson McHenry
Available to stream on Hulu. Chewing Gum (2015— )
The E4 sitcom is based on the one-woman show by Michaela Coel, and consequently has a sharp, auteurist sensibility with a distinct worldview. —NJ
Available to stream on Netflix. A time-jumping tale of three friends and one case of chlamydia, the series explores how growing up means making peace with roads not taken. But of course it does, and these two horribly selfish, unethical people teach each other to find the better angels in their natures. Reilly. We’re like this all the time.” What was more remarkable about Bridesmaids, aside from its two Oscar nominations, including one for best original screenplay, was its focus on the falling out and rekindling of feeling between the bride (Maya Rudolph) and her blundering maid of honor (Kristen Wiig), who shared a much more obvious chemistry than the soon-to-be husband and wife. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
What keeps America’s A-list actresses from starring in rom-coms? Definitely, Maybe (2008)
Definitely, Maybe feels at home in the 1990s, but somehow stretched the barriers of time and space and got released in 2008. —EAJ
Available to stream on Amazon Prime. On Insecure, the usual rom-com hijinks get fresh settings: someone’s cousin’s bad church play, a girls’ weekend away, a rap freestyle that empowers you to take charge like Solange. Obvious Child (2014)
Just as Donna (Jenny Slate) is about to tell the man she had a one-night stand with that she’s pregnant and has decided to get an abortion, he holds a butter packet between his palm, warming it for her. This axiom drives geriatric Hal (Christopher Plummer) to come out of the closet in his mid-70s, and in turn, the self-actualizing bravery of that choice compels his adult son (Ewan McGregor) to pursue a passionate relationship with a charming French actress (Mélanie Laurent). The movie earned a lot of attention for being a box-office smash that was both female and filthy, prompting crude women across America to respond by belching the words, “Really? Farrell, in fact, has been sent to a home for singles where he has to find a mate in 45 days lest he be turned into an animal of his choosing (a lobster). —NJ
Available to stream on Netflix. It’s an innocent and disarming moment, very Tom Hanks-in-a-Nora Ephron-film thing to do. A desire for more prestigious work? Nothing ties a sweet little indie romance together quite like soft incestuous undertones. By the end, when Mickey confesses to Gus that she’s a sex and love addict, and he responds by kissing her, it feels reminiscent of your standard, rom-com happily ever after moment. breeziness comes with an undercurrent of melancholy. Over the course of its three seasons to date, Younger has remained closer to the comedic side of the romantic comedy than many other entries on this list, as Liza and other women on the show grapple with things like dating apps, period sex, and what to do when your boyfriend asks you to read his novel. Beginners (2010)
Life, it has been said, is for the living. All idealism, romantic or otherwise, fades, which, honestly, is a pretty grim story to tell Abigail Breslin. (See: 1984’s Electric Dreams.) But Spike Jonze imagines the romantic possibilities in a more modern, richly constructed, deep, absurd, and sobering narrative that’s just right for these digitally dominated times. But the thing that makes this one magical is star Daniel Radcliffe, fully leaning into his post-Potter awkwardness; he’s charming and nervous and his ease with his co-stars reminds you why he’s a leading man. That’s why it’s the best. When Carol’s own career picks up, she spends more time avoiding the industry’s boys’ club than being wooed by it, and when she finally realizes that a sound producer has a crush on her, it’s a courtship nervous enough to turn this romantic comedy into a kind of coming of age—a woman building an identity independent of the male voices she’s compared to. And above all, it’s unafraid to get depressing, showing all the ways both single life and domesticity can crush a person’s soul. Enough Said (2013)
Most romantic comedies focus on young, attractive people who are unburdened by the future. Top Five (2014)
Written, directed, and starring Chris Rock, this raunchy romantic comedy represents a career highlight for its creator. It presents us with tropes of romance and then offers more realistic alternatives. Coel plays Tracey, a 24-year-old virgin trying desperately to punch that V-card while living in a London housing estate with a zealously religious mother and sister. But probably the most notable element is its weirdly satisfying unhappy ending: After watching Dev go through many of the usual romantic steps (bad dates, other love interests, moving in together, fights, thinking about marriage), his girlfriend Rachel decides that she’s not sure about their life together, and the season ends with them parting ways. David O. Knocked Up (2007)
Hailed as an instant classic upon its release, Knocked Up, in many ways, set the template for the next decade of rom-coms. —E. In Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said, everyone, from Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s masseuse to her new friend Catherine Keener to Keener’s ex-husband James Gandolfini, has baggage. The best rom-com heroines have friends with full and interesting lives, and Insecure’s writing is similarly generous, spreading the character flaws and the biting one-liners around to show living, breathing friendships between black women. What more fitting commentary is there about the state of modern love than ultimately breaking up and moving to Italy to study pasta? Rock’s character soon falls for a New York Times journalist interviewing him (an excellent Rosario Dawson), and it’s her performance that lends pathos and easy charm to the film. But Bridesmaids, released in 2011 and also produced by Apatow, put its manicured hands on either side of the camera and forcefully tugged the focus onto the women. —JM
Available to stream on HBO. Happy endings, too, have given way to bittersweet conclusions and melancholy. But if there’s one thing I admire about the Netflix show, it’s how ruthlessly it attacks the very core of romantic comedies. Nicolas Hoult’s undead ghoul may not have a heartbeat, but he’s still got a heart. Yeah, that’s been done before. Most of all, though, the romantic comedy in 2017 is not just one thing: Projects like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Lobster delight in twisting rom-com tropes, while movies like The Proposal and Silver Linings Playbook prove there’s more than one way to play them straight.

Budweiser’s Super Bowl Ad Tells a Compelling Immigrant Story. It’s Just Not Adolphus Busch’s.

The ad, which was directed by Chris Sargent, shows Adolphus Busch crossing the Atlantic in a storm-tossed ship, being taunted as he makes landfall in New Orleans, and boarding a steamship up the Mississippi which promptly catches fire, eventually ending up in a bar where he meets a man who introduces himself as Eberhard Anheuser. And he became a global colossus. Louis, there was a very sizable German population there. The discrimination they faced wasn’t anything like the poor Irish who had to fight their way in block by block. It’s an alternate view of the Adolphus Busch story. Budwesier’s 60-second Super Bowl spot, “Born the Hard Way,” which depicts the arduous journey of Anheuser-Busch’s co-founder from Germany to St. He was from a fairly well-to-do, successful family. He came to find his fortune. were “middle-class liberals.” Was that true of Adolphus Busch? What’s true is, yeah, there was a guy named Adolphus Busch. So we asked William Knoedelseder, the author of Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer, how much of the much-touted Super Bowl spot is true to life, and how much is just foam. There was 40 of them in St. But I would always respond to the people who would turn their nose up when I mention Budwesier: The story of the Anheuser-Busch is the absolute success story of craft beer. He arrived with a ticket and had his own money. But the rest of it, as far as I know, is just fanciful. to become a brewer? I was just listening to NPR, and they’re discussing whether it’s a good thing that a company takes a side in a political issue using this ad. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. I particularly love the thing on the river where he’s on some sort of raft or a barge with the black guy, some sort of reference to a fella whose name we can’t say on the radio from Huck Finn. He used the Battle of Little Big Horn to sell Anheuser-Busch. It’s got wonderful production values, it’s very expensive and, I think, very effective—and mostly fiction. It’s at best coincidental, I think. So do you think there was any political intent in releasing an ad with an immigration theme? Louis, was hailed as a powerful pro-immigration statement from the instant it hit the internet on Monday. I think they were just building on a whole history they have of playing upon their heritage. It’s an amazing American immigrant success story. Did Adolphus come to the U.S. With angry-faced men yelling “You’re not wanted here!” and “Go back home!” at Busch as he takes his first steps in the New World, the ad dovetailed neatly with the heated emotions stirred up Donald Trump’s Muslim ban—perfect timing, even though the commercial had been in the works for over eight months. That, as far as I know, never happened. I did a lot of research in St. Louis, and there weren’t any German ghettos. It just happened to come out this week in the middle of this immigration stuff. It also shows Busch encountering anti-immigrant prejudice the second he steps off the boat. Louis. It’s laughable. They all arrived in America with money, and deference comes with cash. By the time he got to St. Louis, and there was a guy named Eberhard Anheuser that he became partners with. He wasn’t tremendously wealthy, but it would be highly doubtful that he encountered whatever that was at the beginning with him jumping off the boat and people shouting at him. They made beer on their block, and they sold it as far as the wagon could carry the beer. An Ad Week account of the production says “Born the Hard Way” is “as historically accurate as it can be,” but the article is strangely mute on the particulars of Busch’s story: It’s a nice touch that “props like Adolphus’ notebook and bow tie” are “true to the time,” but that doesn’t exactly vouch for the way the ad represents Busch’s story itself. They’re just playing with another myth of the Mississippi. Adolphus wasn’t a brewer. It’s not something that anyone that’s written about Anheuser-Busch has ever seen before. Unless they got a hold of some letters from his family, I don’t know where they get all that information. What was your first impression of the ad? There were German sections, but they weren’t anything like that. The approval process for an ad campaign for the first slot in the Super Bowl is a very lengthy one, and the last position that Anheuser-Busch would want to take would be what these people are suggesting in this discussion—the left-hand side. When they started out, there was nothing but craft brewers. He didn’t like beer. That’s always been a strong suit for them in selling the beer. No one had ever done that before. And just how representative of the immigrant experience is Adolphus Busch, anyway? The ad sets up a classically American up-by-the-bootstraps narrative, but in the book, you write that most Germans who came to the U.S. But he came from a wine merchant family. If it had come out last year, it just would have been a very good Anheuser-Busch commercial that got written up in Ad Age and might have won an award. He did land in New Orleans and come up the river to St. He was a wine drinker. It was a good place to land if you were a German immigrant. Ironically, that’s what Adolphus would do. Is that something a German newcomer would have faced in 1857? But did the brewing giant that renamed its flagship product “America” in the middle of a presidential campaign really intend to take such a potentially divisive political stand? Adolphus Busch did not arrive poor and struggling.

Conan Investigates Allegations that the White House is Photoshopping Trump’s Hands

The Donald Trump in the photos would have no problem dialing a phone, opening a garbage can, or even using simple tools—a far cry from our commander-in-chief! For an accurate look at the size of Trump’s hands, check out this raw footage from a state dinner: There was a tiny internet dust-up a few days ago when internet users briefly alleged that the White House had altered an official photo to enlarge the hands of our short-fingered president. To put it simply, President Trump’s hands are not getting any bigger, and they never, never will. Where are the short, stubby fingers and murderer’s thumb Trump is known for? It turned out to be much ado over very little: the photo hadn’t been altered, President Trump’s hands were exactly the size they’d always been, and any perceived change in their size from one photo to the next was either an optical illusion or the result of some sort of special camera lenses. But although the photo in question was shown to have been unaltered, there are a lot of pictures of the president that still haven’t been vetted, and as Conan’s investigation discovers, a few of them look a little suspicious. Fortunately, the special-effects wizards at the White House haven’t yet managed to alter anything but still images.

Jonesing for Super Bowl Ads Before Sunday? Let Melissa McCarthy Get You Right.

The best way to help save the environment is to buy things, buy things, buy things, especially new cars, and especially Kia Niros—and the best way to stay informed about what’s going on in the world is to watch advertisements when you don’t absolutely have to. People will laugh at you, as though you were some kind of comedy superstar like Melissa McCarthy! Whether McCarthy is saving whales, trees, icebergs, or even rhinos, her efforts all come to nothing but injury. It turns out that you can be environmentally conscious while buying a new gasoline-burning car, as long as it’s the right brand—and that brand is the Kia Niro! Slate, Kia, and Melissa McCarthy are proud to join forces to make the world you’ve always dreamed of—a world in which it doesn’t have to be Super Bowl Sunday to watch a high-production-value Super Bowl ad—an amazing reality. The ad stars Melissa McCarthy as a hero whose attempts to help the environment end in painful, Homer-Simpson-style disasters. On Sunday the NFL, Fox, and our nation’s courageous brands will shoot an hour or so of high-quality advertisements straight into our veins. Heroes, one and all. It’s been almost a year since the last Super Bowl, and you know what that means: everyone’s Super Bowl ad levels are dangerously low. But in the meantime, a few selfless companies are giving us just a little taste to get us by until we can do things properly over the weekend. First out of the gate is the Kia Niro, a crossover hybrid SUV whose name coincidentally evokes an extravagantly corrupt emperor amusing himself with trivial things—fiddles, say, or high-end advertising—while the world burns. The message is clear and inspiring: direct action simply doesn’t work, and will make you look ridiculous besides. On the other hand, no one will laugh at you as long as you are, yourself, laughing at comedy superstar Melissa McCarthy.