Romantic comedies may be a dying species in theaters, but on Netflix, cute encounters and dramatic rides through airports are still thriving.
The streaming giant offers a home to everything from black-and-white foreign-language Oscar winners to middling ’80s monster-fighting preteens, but romantic comedy is one area where the platform has consistently excelled. After a few years out of fashion, the once lucrative genre has enjoyed new life on Netflix and is slowly regaining appreciation both critically and financially. You could also argue that the streamer has been instrumental in saving romantic comedies for the past few years, or at least reminding viewers how much fun it can be to watch two nice people fall in love against a backdrop of misadventures and hijinks. .
Many rom-coms still tend to struggle at the box office — we’re looking at “Bros” here — but an equal amount find thriving audiences among subscribers. The 2018 megahit “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” springs to mind as an instant triumph for Netflix, supported by two sequels (released in 2020 and 2021) and countless other original rom-com originals seemingly crafted in the trilogy’s image. From the workplace shenanigans of “Set It Up” to the tortured friend zone of “Always Be My Maybe,” Netflix continues to invest in flirty stories about finding the one.
That said, May 2023 is a somewhat fallow month for romantic comedies on the streamer, even if originals like “The Half of It” or “The Incredible Jessica James” ensure that a decent library of sizzling love stories will always exist on Netflix. Many of the best romantic comedies that have populated the service in recent months, such as “Notting Hill” or “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” have moved away from streaming, leaving behind a notable absence. That said, there are still some great options, including Nora Ephron’s great “Sleepless in Seattle”; Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey’s beloved film “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”; and Tom Cruise’s sports drama “Jerry Maguire.” Also, there are Alia Shawkat and Laia Costa in the melancholy “Duck Butter”; Spike Lee’s Original Movie “She She She’s Gotta Have It” (Or you could try the serialized Netflix Original!); Noah Baumbach’s directorial debut “Kicking and Screaming”; and more.
From modern classics like ‘La La Land’ to new originals like ‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’, Netflix is filled with great examples of all the loving and entertaining stories the genre has yet to offer. Here are 18 romantic comedies you can watch right now on Netflix. Selections are listed in ascending order of quality and genre relevance.
With editorial contributions from Kate Erbland, Proma Khosla and Sarah Shachat.
(This story was originally published in February 2023 and has since been updated.)