This thesis is an observation and analysis of male performance in romantic comedy films released between 2005 and 2015. As a lasting genre, rom-com, like all forms of media, has the potential to influence society. Gender plays a vital role in the generic template of these films. Because women are the dominant consumers of this genre, what they observe as gender performance is important. This genre has been dissected under the eye of feminism and female gender performance but the changes in masculinity have been largely overlooked.This paper identifies common characteristics in leading men of this decade's rom-coms. After establishing the roles that gender, and men specifically, have played in the historical establishment of the genre, the modern man is proven to be significantly different than his predecessors. This research has identified three common facets of the modern leading man that are in stark contrast to the portrayals of the past: he is emotionally vulnerable, he is pointedly tender and domestic, and he is a strong proponent of the romantic relationship throughout the film. In response to the more autonomous and career-driven female leads of these modern films, the men have filled the genre-necessary void of domestic nurturers. This is seen through actions and characteristics such as their artistic careers, interactions with children, and commitment to the relationship.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Theatre and Media Arts



Date Submitted


Document Type





film, romance, romcom, gender, masculinity, film history, film genre