Created By: Kat_ on May 17, 2013 Last Edited By: Kat_ on April 7, 2014
Troped

Rom Com Job

The job opportunites for Romantic Comedy characters are overwhelmingly in teaching, medicine, or something with a creative streak.

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Still at loss about what to do with your life? Fret not - if you happen to find yourself in a romance/comedy/romantic comedy, you can follow this easy counselling guide for career enlightement. You do need a job, or you won't be able to afford the lifestyle that allows for luxurious abodes while spending most days solely mulling over romantic entanglements. But narrowing down the job options is very easy:

1) Want to show your nurturing side? Become a doctor (especially if a male) or a teacher (especially if a female), to land an infinitely secure, respectable and satisfying job. Those jobs are character shorthand that tell every potential suitor that you are caring and non-threatening, adept at looking after others, i.e. good spouse/family-making material - essential qualities in Rom Com.

2) Want to be creative? Become anything where a normal person has miniscule opportunities to make an actual living - a photographer, illustrator, writer, designer of stuff, or choose one of the more creative jobs in media. You will still be guaranteed unprecedented success, big promotions and/or rave reviews. Even if you're currently a starving artist who is still waiting for the breakthrough or just lazy, remember you're super talented and have unlimited potential! And the love of your life you've just met will thrust you in the right direction.

Cooking has enough creative elements to be applicable. As a bonus, it handily offers opportunities for romantic gestures - like creating meals in unusual locations - and hints to your special someone that you are family-ready. If you're man you should be a chef, if you're a woman try something smaller and cuter, like cupcakes. If you rather not physically create something yourself, become a hang-around to the cultured and creative: try event planning, advertising/PR, music business, doing stuff at an art gallery, or running your own artsy corner shop.

Creative jobs are useful in the Rom Com world, as they have a cool and glamorous ring to them, yet sound like there could be a decent expected income to support your prospective family. They have vague job descriptions and irregular hours which free you for the romance, and you get a chance to meet a variety of colorful characters (especially at places like art galleries and little corner shops). It doesn't hurt here that the typical writer-creator of the Rom Com world can pour in some of their insight of the creative business.

3) Want money? Become a high-flying exec of an unspecified corporate entity or a lawyer without a good cause. This is character shorthand for you being a type-A workaholic who's married to their job and a total sell-out. Therefore, be prepared to change jobs ASAP to prove your creative or nurturing side (see: options 1 and 2) to your laidback love interest, as currently you work for Evil. Remember, if you're too good and efficient at what you do, bad things will follow, like dying.

So go ahead, pursue your chosen job, opportunities are practically endless! (Restrictions may apply.)

Compare with Stock Superhero Day Jobs and Occupation Tropes. See also Most Writers Are Writers, One-Hour Work Week, Starving Artist, Love Tropes, Romantic Comedy.

     Architects 
Film:

TV:
  • Partners - he's an architect, so's the partner

Web:

     Cooks & Chefs 
Film:

TV:

     Doctors of Medicine 
Film:

     Event Planners 
Film:

     Creative Media Jobs: Film, TV and Radio 
Film:

     Creative Media Jobs: Print 
Film:

TV:
  • Charmed: she works as an advice columnist

     Music Biz Jobs 
Film:

     Non-Media Creative Jobs 
Film:

TV:
  • Sex and the City - Carrie is a writer; Samantha is a PR person; Charlotte is something nondescript in the arts' world. As a subversion, Miranda is a lawyer, yet she doesn't have to give up her career for a man.
  • Charmed: she works as a photographer

     Shop Owners 
Film:

     Teachers 
Film:

TV:

     The Rom Com Job Complete Set 
TV:
  • Friends - Ross is a teacher, Rachel works in fashion, Joey is an actor, Monica is a chef.
  • How I Met Your Mother - Lily is a teacher turned art hang around, Marshall is an environmental lawyer, Robin works for TV, Ted is an architect. One recurring character is a (female) pastry chef, another a (female) doctor.

Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • May 17, 2013
    Quag15
    Organize your folder of examples, please.
  • May 17, 2013
    Larkmarn
    There's a trope here, but the description and especially the examples are a mess.

    My recommendation: Narrow it down a bit. The number of jobs you list is a bit broad, I'd narrow it down.

    And for the love of god, folders.
  • May 17, 2013
    Kat_
    No panic, the mass of list was just an edit oversight since there was no preview.

    Actual foldering though - I thought the guidelines said that is not possible here at YKTTW?

    Not sure how I would go about with the narrowing down though, as essentially I was proposing that the job options are either nurturing or creative..? Plus examples of each, which I thought would explain + try to be well-covered.
  • May 17, 2013
    MorganWick
    It's pretty standard to put in the folder code even though it won't work at the moment. The point is to break up the Wall Of Text.

    Don't we have something similar for superheroes? Stock Superhero Day Jobs or something like that?
  • May 17, 2013
    Frank75
    Another explanation: All writers had teachers, all writers have to go to a doctor sometimes, and are working in an artistic field themselves. But other jobs? That will make pesky research necessary.
  • May 17, 2013
    MorganWick
  • May 17, 2013
    Kat_
    Yup, that Superhero thing seems to have the same idea for that genre (and a slightly similar introductory set-up too, hmmm... Is that a problem?)

    So perhaps I could add "Compare with Stock Superhero Day Jobs and Most Writers Are Writers"?
  • May 17, 2013
    arromdee
    I think the jobs of the heroines in Charmed are borderline examples of this (photographer, advice columnist) even though that series really isn't really a Rom Com. Maybe it could be broadened a bit?
  • May 17, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Compare One Hour Work Week.

    I think Stock Rom Com Jobs would work. The film examples should be divided somehow. It's just a wall of words. Maybe separate them by gender, or by the type of job. And as-is, the jobs described covers... a lot. But this is tropable, I do agree with that.
  • May 17, 2013
    Kat_
    Frank: what you said (familiarity) could well be part of such a small set of jobs - especially with media-based and writing jobs. However I think certain jobs are used as short-hand for certain types. That "nurturing" jobs like teacher or doctor also express that the character is caring and non-threatening, good at looking after others, i.e. a good spouse/family-making material - essential qualities within this genre's conventions.

    The high-powered jobs, on the other hand, seem to convey the character is uptight and too busy for love. Which creates a character arc starting point, and creates the conflict between the protagonist and the more laidback romantic interest.

    With the creative jobs, my theory is that it's partially about escapism: they sound cool and unmundane to the viewer (who's often not a starving artist themselves). They also often have vague job descriptions and loose, irregular hours, freeing the character for the romance. Also they get chance to meet a variety of interesting characters (especially at places like art galleries and the little corner shops). And with many of these jobs, the perceived creativity combined with steady income (that's the typical assumption of architects, advertising folk, etc) may make for an appealing sounding spouse material.

    With the chef characters, I think it's showing the creative streak + cooking lends itself well for action and visualisation + cooking is another good "family" trait.

    Should I expand on these potential reasons within the trope text? And if so, is there actually a consensus on what the motivations could be? Do these theories ring true, or do other explanations come to your mind?
  • May 17, 2013
    McKathlin
    ^ This all makes sense to me. With the creative types, Most Writers Are Writers also deserves mention in the description, as it probably has a lot to do with why these jobs show up so often.
  • May 17, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Film
    • The Wedding Singer: Robbie (Adam Sandler) is the titular wedding singer. His friend Julia offers Robbie a job to cheer him up. They soon find themselves falling in love, while Robbie simultaneously discovers the man Julia's engaged to is cheating on her, and doesn't plan to stop after they're married.
  • May 18, 2013
    Arivne
    Each of the examples needs the name(s) of the character(s) involved rather than "he" or "she" to avoid being a Zero Context Example.
  • May 18, 2013
    Kat_
    -Larkmarn: thank you for the concrete dividing suggestions. Dividing by professional genre could be a viable option, although it does create some duplicate or triplicate entries (when main leads have different jobs). If this is ok, how about sub-dividing the Film folder with: Chefs and Cooks Doctors Media Jobs Other Creative Jobs Shop Owners Teachers (High-Level Executive Jobs? There are no examples currently, but would this be a needed category?)

    I'll remove a few less frequent jobs, but most of them are so common that I guess are viable to be mentioned, if organised more sharply?

    -About the technical aspect of sub-dividing the folders, is there a some default tropey way to do it in a case like this? Create some sort of sub-folders, or include some sort of sub-headings within the media folder(s), or something else?

    -I like the way Rom Com Job rolls off the tongue, but have no objections either for the title Stock Rom Com Jobs - any more votes in favor?

    -arromdee: haven't been able to think of an easy way to squeeze in Charmed - would there be a viable trope there by itself? Stock Jobs in Supernatural Fiction... Stock Jobs for females in TV drama...?
  • May 19, 2013
    Kat_
    Arivne, I'd like to very politely disagree: I believe Zero Context Example would be e.g. "When Harry Met Sally: Sally totally fits this trope" (=no explanation on why she fits). But "When Harry Met Sally: she's a journalist" tells us the what the job is, which is what this trope is about (and it tells us the gender, which is also relevant to this trope). The name of the character is not really relevant with his particular trope (although it could very well be with other tropes).

    Not that having the names wouldn't be a nice extra touch, but frankly, if it's up to me to find & add them to each of the long list of examples, there's little hope of this trope ever launching :)
  • May 19, 2013
    arromdee
    Kat_: I think the Charmed example is interesting because they have those jobs for pretty much exactly the same reason that Rom Com characters do. It's not a Rom Com but it has romance subplots. I don't think that that has anything to do with stock jobs in most supernatural fiction--supernatural fiction tends to have a lot of police and detectives.
  • May 20, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^ When writing an example, you're supposed to assume that the reader is not familiar with the work. This means including all of the information that the reader needs to understand the example.

    If the example doesn't give the name of the character, there's absolutely no way for anyone reading the example to know which character you're talking about unless they actually look up the series and find out for themselves. If the reader is required to do extra research like that, the example is not complete.

    And that's what makes all of them Zero Context Examples.

    Don't believe me if you want, but don't be surprised if your trope is sent back to YKTTW by the moderators to be rewritten for deliberately breaking the wiki's rules.
  • May 24, 2013
    Kat_
    Wondering if anyone comments about the sub-dividing the Film folder, that I mentioned earlier?

    I.e., would this work if dividing by professional genre:
    • Chefs and Cooks
    • Doctors
    • Media Jobs
    • Other Creative Jobs
    • Shop Owners Teachers
    • (High-Level Executive Jobs? Would this be a needed category?)

    And, could anyone help with the tech side: is there a some default tropey way to do it in a case like this? Create some sort of sub-folders, or include some sort of sub-headings within the media folder(s), or something else?
  • March 13, 2014
    Larkmarn
    • Lampshaded in After Hours, where the Romantic Comedy episode mocks the sheer number of architects in these movies. It also points out that there are a great deal of architects in real life who are unemployed, which would be even greater if every other White Male Lead was an architect.
  • March 20, 2014
    AgProv
    In the original diaries, Bridget Jones held down a series of boring routine unglamorous office jobs - this lampshaded the fact that at the turn of her thirties, all her life avenues, not just the romantic one, had stalled badly. The original books were written for a British audience who would know the feeling only too well, and could therefore empathise more with the character. (Is there a trope for the unromantic unglamourised grittiness of British comedy and drama, as opposed to the glitziness demanded by American audiences?) Come the movie adaptation... with America in mind, Bridget somehow mutated into a television presenter/ media wonk. Even today this is viewed as an improbably glamorous well paid job by most Brits, who would look on incredulously and say ''SHE's unsuccessful? She should do a crap job like mine...". A little of the original reality of the books melted away into a romanticised - rather than romantic - comedy.
  • March 20, 2014
    Prfnoff
    Theatre
    • The Moon Is Blue — Don Gresham is an architect, and in the final scene he's telling Patty that he's thinking of places for her in his blueprints.

    To me, this seems tropeworthy, but for more than one trope. It seems like it's trying to cover too many bases at once. At least the part about doctors and teachers showing a "nurturing side" should be its own trope (Caring Profession?). "Media worker" and "works for TV" also seem too vaguely defined to definitely qualify as something "creative."
  • April 2, 2014
    Kat_
    Ag Prov: it's very true that the UK output is often less glam, and yes, there is actually a trope, Kitchen Sink Drama.

    Prfnoff: I do get what you mean about the width of scope of including both nurturing (teachers and doctors) and creative jobs, but on the other hand this is exactly what I find uncanny within rom com: that it's usually only these two tiny clusters of jobs. But there's just so many rom coms that apply, there's no helping that the list of examples is long :)

    Also I think separating them into two tropes (like Caring Profession) might create some confusion, since other genres do also feature e.g. teachers, doctors, or journalists prominently, however with a totally different motivation and context. E.g. in All the President's Men the story is about investigative journalism, so the main characters are not working in media just to get girls.

    I do see your point about someone working in media not necessarily having a creative job, so I added specification in the text to try clarify that (as the characters in these films are definitely not in media accounting or work at the reception, that's not the effect that the screenwriters have been going for).
  • April 2, 2014
    arromdee
    I think that to give the examples enough context to understand them, you may be better off including names instead of gender, especially since most shows have more than one character who has a stock job.
  • April 2, 2014
    aradia22
    Here are some corrections and additions for the movies already included. The male love interest is not a chef in Simply Irresistible. The male love interest is a doctor in The Wedding Planner so both the jobs in this movie fit under the stock types. I don't know if it fits in better with creative media jobs or music biz jobs but Jack Black's character in The Holiday composes the background music for movies. In Confessions of a Shopaholic, they both work for a magazine since he is her boss.
  • April 2, 2014
    aradia22
    For Creative Media Jobs: Print, here are some classic examples.

    It Happened One Night: He's a reporter. Roman Holiday: He's a reporter. His Girl Friday: They're both reporters. Sex and the Single Girl: He's a reporter. Nothing Sacred: He's a reporter. Designing Woman: He's a reporter. Third Finger, Left Hand: She's a magazine editor.

    For Non Media Creative Jobs... Theodora Goes Wild: She's a writer and he's a book illustrator. Roberta: She's a fashion designer. Designing Woman: She's a fashion designer. Lover Come Back: They both work in advertising but for rival firms.

    Oh, and Laws of Attraction (2004) features two lawyers. I suppose them both being lawyers cancels out one of them having to change careers. Where should we put the actors/dancers/etc.?
  • April 5, 2014
    Prfnoff
    "Other genres do also feature e.g. teachers, doctors, or journalists prominently, however with a totally different motivation and context."

    I don't think this is true; having a warm-hearted nurse or schoolteacher as a Love Interest is something that happens in more ensemble-oriented comedies with romantic subplots. Furthermore, the motivation and context might not be consistent even within the romantic comedy genre; that they aren't listed in the examples you've set out seems suspiciously indicative.

    In the past, I've questioned the tropeworthiness of taking protagonists of works in a genre and try to fit the majority of them into half a dozen or more pigeonholes. To me, tropes can be strongly associated with a genre, but they shouldn't try to overlay themselves on the genre as a whole.

    Another one I think sounds more like a trope of its own is the famous movie actor/actress who improbably becomes the Love Interest of an average urbanite.
  • April 5, 2014
    Sackett
    I think organizing it into more clear sections would be a good idea.

    There are three narrative reasons for a job:

    Money: Divided between rich, middle class, and poor. Sometimes the story calls for a certain level of wealth and these jobs are used to assign a wealth level: CEO, Lawyer, Doctor. Small businessman, white collar professional, nursing, construction foreman. Waitress, starving artist, student.

    Personality: The job is used to express something about the person's personality. Nursing, cooking, etc.

    Flexibility: We want to have the characters off doing something fun, so the job needs to be flexible. Or maybe we want an obstacle that needs to be overcome. In that case a job that requires certain work hours and constant overtime. Instant drama.

    The fourth reason isn't narrative as much as familiarity of the authors with certain jobs.
  • April 7, 2014
    Kat_
    aradia22: thanks for the additions and corrections; I haven't seen all of the films :)

    I've included (movie) actors under "Creative Media Jobs: Film, TV and Radio"; dancers I think would go under "Non-Media Creative Job"? There maybe could be an additional "Performing Arts" type of sub-section too, but I'm concerned that adding even more sections might not go down too well...
  • April 7, 2014
    Kat_
    Prfnoff: not quite sure I understood you correctly, so bear with me.

    I agree with you in that "having a warm-hearted nurse or schoolteacher as a Love Interest is something that happens in more ensemble-oriented comedies with romantic subplots." That's why I would include them under this trope; though they might be officially labeled just "comedy" and normally include also other high jinx besides romance (in my view mostly to appeal to a wider audience), I think there's many examples that include enough many rom com tropes (like this one) to comfortably go under works with both comedic and romantic inclination. Like Friends, for example.

    But I think there IS a difference between these type of works and other genres, which is that the jobs here are usually interchangeable for the plot to function. The boy would meet the girl even if she was a plumber not a teacher, but for various reasons (which I've tried to speculate on in the text, about the indicating caring traits etc), the scriptwriters semi-randomly decided that she's a teacher. The fact that she's a teacher may offer some minor plot contrivances ("kids say darndest things") but her profession makes no difference for the core storyline.

    However, in many works in other genres the profession is fixed beforehand in order for the plot to function. In e.g. dramas like Dangerous Minds, To Sir With Love, or Dead Poets Society the main character has to be a teacher, because otherwise the story wouldn't make sense - since story is specifically about the teacher-student relationship. In the same way the characters in crime movies like State of Play or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo had to be journalists, or they wouldn't have ended up in the middle of crime investigations which is what these movies are about.

    There are of course exceptions both ways (some rom coms where the job is somewhat more central, or works of other genres with random teachers/doctors/creative jobs). But I still believe this is tropeworthy, due to the uncanny repetition of these jobs (without a necessary narrative reason) in rom coms specifically.
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