What We Really Need

by | April 13, 2021 | General | 2 comments

There has been a lot of discussion lately about how things have changed in the past year because of the pandemic. I’ve gotten weary of reading analyses, op-eds and social media ramblings about what could have or should have been done. It reminded me of something my dear old dad used to say—it’s easy to quarterback the game from the bench.

It occurred to me that what we really need right now is more romance and sex in our daily entertainment, especially in the movies. In the past 15 or so years, the romantic comedy and the sex movie have pretty much disappeared. I’m not talking about online porn flicks, but intelligently-written mainstream films aimed at adults that combined romance, sex, and laughs.

Do you remember “You’ve Got Mail,” “Bridesmaids,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” and “When Harry Met Sally”? These were cute romantic sex comedies that weren’t crude, controversial, or obnoxious. They contained humor that people over 21 could appreciate, combined with the realistic ups and downs of contemporary relationships. There was enough sexual inuendo to make things interesting, along with romantic tension and the burning question “Will they or won’t they?” Buried somewhere in the script was a message about what it takes to make a relationship work, but they didn’t beat you over the head with it.

Go back about 50-60 years for even better examples. The sexual revolution in the 1960s gave us sophisticated bedroom comedies like “Pillow Talk,” “Lover Come Back,” “Move Over, Darling” and “Who Was That Lady?” The plots usually revolved around a guy with seduction on the brain chasing a beautiful woman, with some zany plan to get her between the sheets. Adult situations and sexually-charged dialogue abounded, as much as the censors would allow. Luckily, we had charming actors like Rock Hudson, Doris Day, James Garner and Tony Curtis who could pull it off with a wink and a smile, without being offensive.

Most television offerings lately have shied away from this concept as well. Older romantic comedies like “Moonlighting,” “Cheers,” and “Who’s the Boss?” contained enough sexual tension to keep you tuning in every week to find out what happened between the lead characters. While their humor appealed to everyone, these shows were geared more toward grown-ups, as opposed to family fare like “Full House.” An earlier example of a sophisticated romantic comedy is “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (1960-65). The happy couple may have had separate beds because the censors dictated it, but there was definitely something going on after lights out.

What do we have to take the place of these witty bedroom comedies today? Action-packed shoot-‘em-ups that mandate one car chase and one gunfight or explosion per hour. Reality shows with preposterous concepts vie for our attention, along with intense dramas like “Downton Abbey,” “Breaking Bad,” and “The Walking Dead.” Some current network sitcoms may include romance, but there isn’t much in the way of teasing. It’s interesting that recent cable hits with the most sexual content have been set in historical or fantasy worlds, like “Game of Thrones” and “Outlander.”

Romantic sex comedies at the multiplexes have been pushed aside in favor of loud, splashy spectacles featuring buff superheroes and explosive action. Regarding the modern blockbuster, film writer R.S. Benedict noted “Everyone is beautiful and yet, no one is horny.” I used to enjoy films like those when they weren’t so commonplace, and seeing one was like a major event. There was something magical about watching them on a big screen with surround sound. That was a special experience you couldn’t get at home.

Luckily for everyone, romance and sex are alive and well in books, including those written by the talented contributors to this blog. During the past year, e-book and audio book sales increased 51%. The same study that produced that stat also noted that divorce was down 22%. That surprised me, because with all that forced up-close-and-personal time, I’d have thought it would be higher, not lower.

Perhaps those couples read our books or watched a few romantic sex movies and took notes.

Tim Smith

Tim Smith is an award-winning bestselling author. His books range from romantic mystery/thriller to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. When he isn't pursuing those two careers he can often be found in The Florida Keys, indulging his passion for parasailing between research and seeking out the perfect Pina Colada.


  1. Lisabet Sarai

    Hi, Tim,

    I hadn’t really thought about this, but you’re right. In visual media, at least, romance has largely faded away, especially romance with some intelligence behind it.

    I liked the screwball comedies, but give me a Humphrey Bogart – Lauren Baccall flick for the ultimate in romance. About six months ago I watched Key Largo for the second or third time. It never gets old!

  2. Tim Smith

    Hi Lisabet –

    The screwball comedies of the 30’s-40’s were great fun, and the films I mentioned from later on were allowed to add some spice. But you’re right about the incendiary combination of Bogart and Bacall, in all 4 of their movies. “Key Largo” is probably the best, though.

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