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Ask Izzy: Rediscovering romance in the age of true-crime obsession

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Anyone But You — Columbia Pictures
Anyone But You — Columbia Pictures

Ask Izzy is an advice column about relationships, mental health, and sexuality. Written by Isabel Mata — a Seattle-based lifestyle writer, podcast host, and mental health advocate — Ask Izzy offers tangible expert advice so all readers can have stronger relationships, better sex, and healthier mindsets. Submit your question today by filling out this survey

Does anyone else remember when parents and teachers everywhere were convinced that video games were turning kids violent, aggressive, and antisocial? It feels like some strange fever dream from the early 2000s, but it's stuck with me.

Now, as I scroll through Netflix, I'm blown away by the sheer number of true-crime, horror, and action offerings (or a mix of all of them). Social media bombards me with reminders of how obsessed people are with the true-crime genre in particular, regardless of its potential negative impact on mental health.

It makes me wonder: When did we stop worrying about how consuming this type of entertainment could hurt us in the long run?

Last year, Wired published an article stating that research has shown that consuming crime news and related media can lead to outsized fears of becoming a victim, and "for those who are survivors of violence, the glut of content can be a lot to take."

This hits home for me. I can't bring myself to watch anything involving brutal murders, because, frankly, real life is scary enough.

Instead, I gravitate toward my favorite genre: the romantic comedy. It's having a moment in pop culture, with big hits like Anyone But You, Upgraded, and No Hard Feelings, and it's never been more important.

First off, romantic comedies provide a lighthearted and uplifting escape from reality. In a world that often feels overwhelming or stressful, diving into the whimsical and romantic narratives of these films offers a much-needed break. Unlike the dark and intense subject matter of true crime and horror, rom-coms offer hope, joy, and optimism. They celebrate love, friendship, and the triumph of the human spirit, giving viewers comfort and reassurance.

Romantic comedies also stir up a range of positive emotions, something that's hard to find after binge-watching the news. From laughter and amusement to warmth and nostalgia, these films lift spirits and brighten even the gloomiest days. The humor, wit, and charm of rom-coms can bring a smile to anyone's face and foster a sense of connection.

But my favorite thing about them is how they foster empathy and emotional connection. By showcasing relatable characters and universal themes of love, heartbreak, and redemption, these films invite viewers to empathize with others' experiences and struggles. This emotional resonance creates intimacy and leaves a lasting impression. As Brené Brown said, "Connection is why we're here. We are hardwired to connect with others; it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it, there is suffering."

And in my opinion, there's no better way to connect than by watching extremely beautiful people fall in love, break up, and come back together. While true crime may offer intrigue and suspense, romantic comedies provide a much-needed dose of warmth, humor, and optimism. By choosing to watch one, viewers can escape into a world of love, laughter, and happily-ever-afters, reaffirming their faith in the power of love and the inherent goodness of humanity.