‘When Harry Met Sally’ is a classic romantic comedy, right? Wrong. This video essay argues that the film actually breaks the genre.
“Genre is a set of expectations the audience has when they walk into a particular kind of movie,” Michael Tucker notes at the beginning of this new essay from Lessons from the Screenplay. A filmmaker’s job is either to conform to—or to break with—these conventions.
Although When Harry Met Sally belongs to the pantheon of great romantic comedies, Tucker’s essay argues that the film achieves much of its success by breaking the conventions associated with the romantic comedy.
“The challenge is to keep convention but avoid cliché.”
A writer is well served to “have a deeper knowledge about the genre you’re working in, and the conventions that come with it,” says Tucker. “Genre is ‘like a check-list.'”Watch: How ‘When Harry Met Sally’ Teaches Us to Break Genre Conventions