Step aside, Harry and Sally. There’s a new hit romantic comedy taking the stage and breaking boundaries. Bros, the first gay, adult romantic comedy from a major Hollywood studio is finally here. Billy Eichner stars as Bobby Leiber, a commitment-phobic museum curator who is happy being single. However, when he’s hired to write a romantic comedy, he realizes that he has no idea what being in a relationship–or in love–is like. That changes when he meets the built, macho lawyer, Aaron. Much to his dismay, Bobby finds himself maybe, possibly, oh God, falling in love with Aaron. Cue the freakout.
In between the fun and romance, however, Bros is a movie that has the potential to make a big impact on Hollywood–finally.
‘Bros’ Is Making History
It’s not to say that LGBTQ+ rom-coms haven’t been made before, but most of them have been smaller independent films restricted to home releases, or at best, limited theatrical releases. 20th Century Fox’s Love, Simon (2018) saw a worldwide theatrical release, though the film was targeted at teenage audiences, rather than mature audiences. More recently, streaming services have debuted LGBTQ+ romantic comedies, including Fire Island (2022) and Happiest Season (2020), but neither of these saw theatrical releases. Having a wide theatrical release shows that adult LGBTQ+ stories are just as worthy of production and distribution as heteronormative love stories and allows LGBTQ+ adults – who have long since sat through those heteronormative stories – the opportunity to see themselves reflected on the big screen.
Even more noteworthy is that Bros will not only be the first gay romantic comedy from a major studio, but also the first written by a gay man and with an entirely LGBTQ+, racially diverse main cast. When the LGBTQ+ community is free to tell their own stories, it creates a welcoming, truthful setting free of stereotypes. That said, we can still expect plenty of clichés – it is a romantic comedy, after all. And what exactly are these romantic cliches and tropes that we all know and love? Let’s take a look!
The beginning, most quintessential ingredient to any good rom-com is the meet-cute. It’s always the people that aren’t looking for love that happen to bump into someone at the right place at the right time – or maybe the wrong time, to be reconciled during the movie. It’s serendipitous, like Jonathan and Sara of the aptly titled Serendipity (2001) grabbing the same pair of black, cashmere gloves during the busy holiday shopping season. Even better is when those two people are exact opposites in every way possible, like independent bookstore owner Kathleen and mega-chain heir Joe of the beloved You’ve Got Mail (1998). With modern single life being weighed down by disappointing dating apps, who wouldn’t want a charming meet-cute?
Bros delivers perfectly on this trope. Assuring his friends that he enjoys being single – a phrase every single person has said to convince themselves that they are not at all lonely – museum curator Bobby Lieber, played by Billy Eichner, makes his way through one discouraging Grindr match after the next, until he bumps into Aaron, otherwise known as “gay Tom Brady,” at a club. He’s totally not Bobby’s type at all. Unless he is?
Mismatched Messiness Meets Flirtatious Banter
When opposites attract, things are seldom easy. As is expected from Billy Eichner, Bobby is unapologetically loud and snarky, while Aaron is more reserved about his sexuality, and this results in some butting of heads between the two love interests. Their back-and-forth witty banter is a classic rom-com element, acting as another form of flirting and elevating the sexual tension to bring the couple closer and closer together until things can only go one way or another: a desperate kiss or a separation of ways. Some of the most memorable banter of any romantic comedy comes from the beloved Nora Ephron, with the equally matched cleverness of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally… (1989) no doubt taking the cake. What more is there to do on a car ride than talk and grow closer? Whether the intentions are to simply be friends or to merely tolerate the presence of one another, the conversations of love and relationships are destined to go somewhere.
The Confidants & Besties
The confidant has always played an important role in any rom-com. They’re the friend that the protagonist can go to for relationship advice. How is anyone supposed to figure out anything about this crazy thing called romance if not for the help of a best friend? Preferably a levelheaded one that can talk the protagonist down from the ledge when romantic drama is threatening to drive them crazy. It could be a long-time friend, a colleague, a roommate, or maybe even a family member willing to provide some insight and perspective on the relationship. George Downes takes on this role as the gay best friend of Jules Potter in My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), being the only one capable of giving her sound advice regarding the crush she has on Michael, a.k.a. her friend who’s already engaged. But there’s a twist of events in Bros, where it’s now the gay man seeking guidance from the straight best friend. Bobby goes to his straight best friends and overly proud allies, Tina and Edgar, for advice on how to best handle his newfound attraction to Aaron, thinking there’s no way he could be Aaron’s type. Whether or not Bobby will take their advice remains to be seen.
The Found Family
Bros isn’t just any typical rom-com, though. As much as the film is for all audience members, it still is very much a gay love story. It doesn’t shy away from this fact, and certainly doesn’t apologize for it. While some may want to argue that straight relationships and LGBTQ+ relationships are the same, Bobby is not quiet about his opinion on the matter at all and feels that they’re vastly different. That’s not just limited to romantic relationships, either. For Bobby, even straight friendships are different from LGBTQ+ friendships, made apparent in the found family, or chosen family, trope.
Different from the sole confidant, the found family often consists of a group of close, united misfits that come together (and choose to stay together) based on shared experiences and connections. Often, this bond feels stronger than any biological bond. While the found family is not a standard rom-com trope – though films like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) do involve groups of workplace friendships – it is a common LGBTQ+ trope. Bobby’s friends and co-workers at the LGBTQ+ museum fight and bicker constantly, but they’re still a family at the end of the day, and they know they’ll always have each other for support when both personal and professional endeavors get tough.
The Breakup (& Inevitable Make-Up)
All that snarky, flirtatious banter and long nights discussing the pros and cons of a romantic relationship must go somewhere, though. Miscommunication leading to one big blowup always ensues, leading one or both parties to give up and walk away. Happily in rom-coms, though, they soon after have a change of heart and come back to their partner, trying to atone and win back their love. Think The Proposal (2009). In other cases, both parties agree that a romantic relationship just isn’t in the cards for them – most famously done in Casablanca (1942). In which direction will Bobby and Aaron go? You’ll just have to head to theaters and find out for yourself.
Bros is in theaters on Friday, September 30th.