Rom Coms Make Comeback But Many NYC Classics Would Need Major Changes to Fly Today

Some of the greatest rom coms of all time have been set with NYC as a backdrop. And while these films were once deemed “timeless” classics, many key scenes and some entire plot lines would have to be changed, rewritten or dropped entirely if the movies were being shot in today’s Gotham.

| 24 Feb 2023 | 05:54

Rom-coms are back. Thanks to the success of the new Netflix rom-com “Your Place or Mine” starring Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher, that’s partially set in New York, a new crop of movies in this genre is on the way—and just in time. Many of the classics are set in Manhattan and even though the meet-cute-hate-each-other-fall-in-love trope is time-honored, the movies look dated because they reflect an NYC that no longer exists.

When Harry Met Sally

Harry (Billy Crystal) realizes his “friend” Sally (Meg Ryan) is the one, jumps out of a cab that’s stuck in traffic, and runs through the streets to declare his love before it’s too late. Now he’d be in an Uber, from which one can’t just throw the money at the driver and hit the bricks. In the time it would take to reprogram the App to change destinations, you’d move five blocks.

Working Girl

The go-go ‘80s of Wall Street would hang itself with its red suspenders today. We’ve gone from Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) paying dues as a secretary while she goes to night school for her degree so she can climb the corporate ladder to a world with quiet quitting, #WFH, and work/life balance.

How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days / 13 Going On 30

Andie (Kate Hudson) and Jenna (Jennifer Garner) respectively, work at prestigious, large-circulation, glossy women’s magazines. Remember those? ‘Nuf said.

Someone Like You

Jane (Ashley Judd) is looking at apartments with her boyfriend who’s on the cusp of getting back with his ex who happens to be Jane’s boss. They find their dream home with a view from which the realtor tells them they can “see all the way to the Trade Center.” If any film is in desperate need of a re-edit, it’s this one.

Two Weeks Notice

Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is a pro bono liberal lawyer who works for a corporate, billionaire real estate developer. Not in today’s blue no matter who/sanctuary city climate.


Sara (Kate Beckinsale) writes her phone number in a novel that will be sold to a used bookstore. She explains to Jonathan (John Cusack) that if by fate he finds it and contacts her it’ll mean they were meant to be. This is post-pandemic NYC. No one has time for that kind of $#!%.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

The movie pays tribute to New York’s downtown indie scene. The highlighted places are now either closed, like Lit Lounge, or miraculously still open but just not as cool anymore.

Maid in Manhattan

A New York politician meets a woman who is not vetted, if not by him, but by his staff? It was even implausible back in 2002.

You’ve Got Mail

Walk down any block in Manhattan and you will find empty stores that have been that way for quite a while. Conversely, you’d be hard-pressed to not find a Duane Reade, Starbucks, H&M, Old Navy, or GAP. So the conceit that big, bad corporate chain bookstore owner Joe (Tom Hanks) has displaced indie bookstore owner Kathleen (Meg Ryan) seems quaint aka What else’s new? with a shrug chaser.

Sleepless in Seattle

In 1993 star-crossed lovers Annie (Meg Ryan) and Sam (Tom Hanks) plan to finally meet on Valentine’s Day on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. After arriving late, the couple is still allowed to stay after hours. In our currently hyper-security city, entering the renovated iconic building would mean the couple would not get up to the 102ndfloor until around St. Patrick’s Day.

Here’s a future rom-com idea apropos what’s going on now: She’s a liberal, feminist podcaster who broadcasts from home. He’s a junior editor with a hybrid job who leads the charge whenever the publisher wants to put out a book by someone he and his peers believe should be canceled. After interviewing him for her show, he invites her to his half-empty office for lunch, where they realize they’re soulmates because they’re wearing the same brand of sweatpants.

Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of several novels, most recently The Last Single Woman in New York City (Heliotrope Books).