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Let’s Write Our Own Netflix Rom-Coms

After ‘Set It Up,’ ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,’ and now ‘Someone Great,’ we pretty much know how these things go

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Last week Netflix released the romantic comedy The Perfect Date (in which rom-com all-star Noah Centineo plays a teen who sells himself for dates; the movie is somehow not about prostitution). On Friday, Netflix will release the romantic comedy Someone Great, starring Gina Rodriguez. On May 3, Netflix will release the romantic comedy The Last Summer, starring Riverdale’s K.J. Apa.

Netflix firmly established itself as a haven for the rebirth of the rom-com with 2018 movies like The Kissing Booth, Set It Up, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. And they’re clearly not slowing down in 2019. It’s an exciting time, full of delightful nonsense and up-and-coming actors who are way too extra on Instagram. But perhaps the most pleasing part of this Netflix-led rom-com boom is just how predictable all the films are. Usually, predictability is a bad thing when it comes to movies, but with rom-coms, knowing the path is part of the fun, as it brings a feeling of safety and satisfaction.

Because Netflix has established its rom-com blueprint so thoroughly, we can pretty much write the things ourselves at this point. Which is what we did. With a few outlined stipulations and a limited-but-fair budget, we asked Ringer staffers to submit pitches for Netflix rom-coms. Below are the budgetary rules, along with the staff’s ideas. (But first: Netflix, we know you’re churning out these babies, so please don’t steal any of these ideas; just call us instead. Surely, we can work something out.)

Budget

$60

Premise (Must Pick One)

$8: Based on a YA novel/series
$8: Summer or vacation romance
$5: Based on the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie algorithm
$5: A modernization of a well-known story/play
$3: Someone is terminally ill
$1: Based on a Noah Centineo tweet

Location (Must Pick One)

$15: New York City
$10: Los Angeles
$8: Beach-adjacent town
$5: Suburbia
$5: A European city that the main character took a spontaneous trip to
$3: A Southern town past its prime
$3: A random town with a cool coffee shop/restaurant

Main Character (Must Pick One)

$12: Beautiful girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful
$10: A 20-something, career-driven woman
$5: Relatable “cool girl” with short hair
$5: Former CW star
$3: The upcoming star who is already too good for this movie
$1: Someone who has previously appeared in Pretty Little Liars

Main Character’s Occupation (Must Pick One)

$10: Journalist/publishing insider
$8: High school student
$7: “Marketing”
$5: Waitress
$5: Oft-overlooked assistant
$3: Recently unemployed

Love Interest (Must Pick One)

$15: Hot guy with accent
$12: Noah Centineo
$10: The sensitive, popular jock
$7: Out-of-their-league counterpart
$5: The off-limits older brother
$3: An Australian playing an American
$1: One of the guys from Workaholics

Secondary Characters (Pick As Many As You Want)

$10: The gay best friend
$8: The sassy female best friend
$5: The mean popular girl
$5: Established actor playing the parent
$3: Jaded older sister
$1: The other former CW actor who wasn’t big enough to be the lead

Miscellany (Pick As Many As You Want)

$5: Unrealistic living situation
$5: Side goal of getting into a top university
$3: Time travel
$3: Catfishing
$3: Baseball scene
$1: Other sports scenes
$1: Main character has a cute nickname they hate
$1: Main character has a weird obsession


Ships in the Nightlife

Kate Knibbs: Ships in the Nightlife follows JoJo (Cat Cohen), an aspiring comic working on a disco-themed cruise ship, and recently disgraced famous comedian Ass Douglas (Eric Andre), who is a stowaway on the cruise ship. (He performed such an offensive set that he was forced to flee the country.) JoJo promises to help Ass hide out on the ship in exchange for a meeting with his big-shot Hollywood agent (Mindy Kaling). She learns that Ass might not be the villain he appears to be, and Ass helps her gain confidence to face down her improv nemesis, Gilda (Alexandra Daddario). As the unlikely pair draws closer, JoJo must decide between a burgeoning career and her new love, and Ass must decide whether he’s brave enough to own up to his own poor choices. And then the ship hits a damn iceberg!!!

Premise: Based on a Noah Centineo tweet ($1)
Location: Beach-adjacent town ($8)
Main character: A 20-something, career-driven woman ($10)
Main character’s occupation: Waitress ($5)
Love interest: Out-of-their-league counterpart ($7)
Secondary characters: The mean popular girl ($5)
Miscellany: Unrealistic living situation ($5), main character has a cute nickname they hate ($1)

Total: $42

Love and Death

Andrew Gruttadaro: Satchel (AnnaSophia Robb) is a teen girl who lives in the Chicago suburbs and loves Diane Keaton movies—even the Woody Allen ones, even though her sassy female best friend, Cooper (Shay Mitchell), keeps telling her they’re problematic. All Satchel wants to do is go to NYU, so that she can “see how real people live.” But her dreams are dashed when she goes to the doctor one day and he tells her that she has a rare, highly contagious disease, and that no college anywhere will grant her admission. Satchel skips school for a week and won’t leave her bedroom—which is a massive loft in the backyard of her actual house. Not even her dad, played by a resurgent Jonathan Taylor Thomas, can cheer her up. It isn’t until the Australian foreign exchange student, Sebastian (Nick Robinson, who is not nailing the accent), comes by to drop off Satchel’s math homework that she realizes there might be something worth living for, NYU be damned. And here’s the thing: Sebastian’s not afraid of some little disease!

Premise: Someone is terminally ill ($3)
Location: Suburbia ($5)
Main character: Former CW star ($5)
Main character’s Occupation: High school student ($8)
Love interest: Hot guy with accent ($15)
Secondary characters: The sassy female best friend ($8), established actor playing the parent ($5)
Miscellany: Unrealistic living situation ($5), side goal of getting into a top university ($5), Main character has a weird obsession ($1)

Total: $60

The Moon Is a Moon Any Way You Look At It

Amelia Wedemeyer: Based on a Noah Centineo tweet and soundtracked to “Happier” by Marshmello featuring Bastille, The Moon Is a Moon Any Way You Look At It tells the story of Katherine “Kick” Briggs (Eliza Scanlen), a guarded young woman living an ordinary life with her eccentric grandmother (a Southern-accented Kathy Bates), who has raised Kick with her brand of quirkiness since Kick’s heroin-using parents abandoned her at the age of 5. One night, while closing up at the diner in L.A. where she works, Kick finds herself in conversation with a charming, shaggy-haired stranger who introduces himself as Charlie Brinkley (Noah Centineo, duh). After a meet-cute that sees Kick and Charlie bond over their shared obsession of Lindsay Lohan’s acting in Georgia Rule, the two end up talking for nearly an hour before Charlie suddenly falls ill and makes an excuse to leave. Later, during an artsy montage of Kick and Charlie’s spending the day lying in a field of wildflowers together, it is revealed that Charlie also uses heroin, which angers Kick, who has not yet dealt with her parents’ abandonment due to the same drug. How this story ends is anyone’s guess.

Premise: Based on a Noah Centineo tweet ($1)
Location: Los Angeles ($10)
Main character: The up-and-coming star who is already too good for this movie ($3)
Main character’s occupation: Waitress ($5)
Love interest: Noah Centineo ($12)
Secondary characters: Established actor playing the parent ($5)
Miscellany: Main character has a cute nickname they hate ($1), main character has a weird obsession ($1)

Total: $38

Sunrise Set

Danny Heifetz: If you’ve been paying attention to the Democratic presidential primary race, you know that The Odyssey is in right now. So, instead of Odysseus’s needing 10 years to return to his wife after the Trojan War, our movie will be set at Coachella in 2020. Our star will be a 20-something, career-driven woman trying to blow off some steam after her boss, a demanding music executive, fires her the week before the festival.

She meets a cute guy near the Ferris wheel, and after they kiss at the top, they agree to meet exactly 10 hours later, when the sun rises. The problem is that she’s tripping on acid, and 10 hours feels like 10 years. Also, she swears the guy she met was Noah Centineo—the real Noah Centineo—even though her gay best friend, a music PR rep who scored them VIP passes, insists she was hallucinating and that it was actually one of the guys from Workaholics. Spoiler: This is the cyclops in the story. Tune in for Noah Centineo, stay for the ancient Greek wisdom (and Noah Centineo).

Premise: A modernization of a well-known story/play ($5)
Location: Los Angeles ($10)
Main character: A 20-something, career-driven woman ($10)
Main character’s occupation: “Marketing” ($7)
Love interest: Noah Centineo ($12), One of the guys from Workaholics ($1)
Secondary characters: The gay best friend ($10)
Miscellany: Catfishing ($3)

Total: $58

When in Rome, You’re Dazed and Confused

Miles Surrey: All her life, Cassie Thibault (Kiernan Shipka) wanted to be a reporter; she’s the kind of person who earnestly says Spotlight is her favorite movie ever. (She has never seen All the President’s Men, but the plot description sounds “lit.”) Since graduating from college the previous summer, Cassie has been churning out aggregated blogs at BaitClick, suffering through the doldrums of an SEO-based content farm. She’s far from her family—including her know-it-all, former-valedictorian sister Constance (Madison Iseman) who works for the Peace Corps—and her estranged ex-boyfriend, Nick (Noah Centineo), whose heart she broke by moving to the Big Apple. On a vacation in Rome, Cassie finds herself at the city’s famous Trevi Fountain, where legend has it any wish is granted if you toss a coin in. Cassie wishes she could redo her entire college experience and avoid a future at BaitClick.

When Cassie wakes up the next morning, she is back in her hometown and it’s the last week of high school. Will Cassie break up with Nick again, on the same beach where they shared their first kiss? Can she and Constance—visiting from her first big Peace Corps trip in Southeast Asia—put aside their differences and find some empathy for one another? Will Cassie’s last-minute editorial changes to the school yearbook do anything to prevent a future writing seven iterations of “What Time Is the Super Bowl?” at BaitClick? More importantly: Doesn’t this movie and its title evoke the premises of two different comedies? Nice try, Netflix totally doesn’t feed off the ubiquitous popularity of other movies into its slate of original programming. Find a new slant.

Premise: Summer/time-traveling vacation romance ($8)
Location: A European city, ($5) and then, following the time-traveling plot device, a beach-adjacent town ($8)
Main character: A 20-something, career-driven woman ($10)
Main character’s occupation: Journalist ($10)
Love interest: Noah Centineo ($12)
Secondary characters: Jaded older sister ($3)
Miscellany: Time travel ($3)

Total: $59

The Wedding Partner

Haley O’Shaugnessy: Country-turned-city gal Ada Benson (short for Adabelle, we soon discover) is forced to leave her all-consuming job in New York to return to her Southern roots for the worst possible reason: love. That’s right, her sweet, down-home twin sister, Amabelle, is getting married! Ada has no time for dating because of her intense work life (her occupation is vague but all you need to know is that her boss YELLS, and Ada wears HEELS and carries around stacks of PAPERS), thus has no man to take back home. How embarrassing compared with her much-adored and much-engaged sister! Enter Julian Brooks, the guy working the front desk at Ada’s apartment building, who, despite being a tall, hot guy with an accent, our busy Ada has never noticed before! On a whim, Ada playfully forces (read: kidnaps) Julian to join her for a weekend at home as her faux-date. Mom loves him; Dad loves him (in a toxic-masculinity-I’m-not-gonna-ACTUALLY-say-I-like-him-but-I-like-him way); sister Ama loves him. Ada even starts to love him, until Julian reveals that he’s actually the son of the owner of her apartment building, not a front-desk worker! That’s why he has such a fancy name! Ada feels betrayed, for some reason, then realizes she just wasn’t seeing her true self, a workaholic who was too focused to see the hot man with the accent in front of her. Ada wins Julian back with an impossibly last-minute grand gesture at her nephew’s baseball game—not really solving or talking about any of the issues at hand, but it’s cute! Strapped with a hot guy with an accent who also has money, Ada returns to the big city Monday, tells her very mean boss to suck it, and gets promoted to the Obscure But Better Position. Then Julian proposes. Of course.

Premise: Based on a Noah Centineo tweet ($1)
Location: A southern town past its prime ($3)
Main character: A 20-something, career-driven woman ($10)
Main character’s occupation: Oft-overlooked assistant ($5)
Love interest: Hot guy with accent ($15)
Secondary characters: Established actor playing the parent ($5)
Miscellany: Baseball scene ($3)

Total: $42