In the age of swiping, ghosting, and other bothersome dating complications, there’s nothing more comforting than escaping into the cozy world of romantic comedies. The characters are loveable, the drama is stress-free, and there’s almost always a dreamy kiss at the end.
But we can’t help but wonder, what happens after the cameras stop rolling? Where do these lovebirds end up ten years down the road, once the magic of the moment has faded away?
Broadly spoke to the writers of six iconic rom coms from the golden age of cinema—the late 90s and early aughts, of course—to find out where they think the couples that they wrote into existence would be today. The writers generously revealed what awkwardly uncool adult jobs their characters now have, whether or not their happy ending was actually ever-after, and what character traits have remained unwaveringly true.
She’s All That (1999)
Written by R. Lee Fleming Jr.
There have been a lot of teen movies about bets. But She’s All That was the one that started it all. The film follows Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.), a high schooler who gets dumped by his popular girlfriend for Real World star Brock Hudson.
The downtrodden jock accepts a bet to transform an unpopular girl named Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) into prom queen, which prompts a friendship, a makeover, and lots of sparks. Laney eventually figures out that the whole thing was a setup and—after some initial anger (shout-out to the classic “Am I a FUCKING bet?”)—she forgives Zack and the two have their first kiss.
Fast forward a few months after the movie’s ending, and Fleming tells Broadly he’s certain Laney and Zack shared a “torrid summer romance.” Then, they went their separate ways. Laney headed to art school in New York and Zack, having missed all the college deadlines, took a gap year and wound up doing Habitat for Humanity.
These days, Laney is an artist and teacher, while Zack teaches marine biology at a college somewhere in California. “I think they’re currently both very happy in their late thirties and follow each other on Instagram,” the screenwriter adds.
Oh, and Brock Hudson is still being Brock Hudson: “He hosts a weekly podcast about the 90s where he pretty much just talks about himself.”
Bring It On (2000)
Written by Jessica Bendinger
If pressed, a lot of 90’s teens can probably still recite most of the snarky one-liners from Bring It On (and maybe, at some point, danced along to those Hey Mickey end credits).
The iconic cheerleading film follows Torrance (Kirsten Dunst), a cheer captain who reinvents her team after finding out that their routines belonged to another squad. Along the way, she befriends an edgy transfer student named Missy (Eliza Dushku), makes things right with her cheer captain competitor, Isis (Gabrielle Union), and—at the very end—shares a kiss with her crush, Cliff (Jesse Bradford).
And after the credits? Like most hot and heavy teen romances, Torrance and Cliff’s relationship didn’t make it past graduation. “They went to different colleges and I’m sure they had their makeouts over holidays,” Bendinger tells Broadly. “I don’t think they stayed together, but when they bump into each other, they’re happy.”
(That tooth brushing moment, however, will live on in flirty infamy.)
The rest of the female leads have since ditched their pompoms and become social justice advocates. Missy works at the Innocence Project, helping wrongfully convicted people get out of jail. Isis works in the Attorney General’s office. “To me, she’s like Kamala Harris now,” Bendinger says.
And Torrance is at EMILY’s List, where she’s become a cheerleader for women who want to get into politics. “She takes that enthusiasm into her job and she brings that rah-rah into helping them get elected.”
Important side note: the women might have moved on from their cheerleading days, but Bendinger is pretty sure she can remember the words to every single cheer she wrote. Once a Toro, always a Toro.
Definitely, Maybe (2008)
Written by Adam Brooks
Definitely Maybe is the whodunit of romantic comedies. The film follows Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds), a recently divorced dad who tells his daughter the story of how he met her mother. Only, he introduces her to three past loves along the way—Emily (Elizabeth Banks), April (Isla Fisher), and Summer (Rachel Weisz)—without revealing any of their identities. After several twists, turns, and one extremely tear-jerking scene at a zoo, Will ends up reuniting with April, long after their rocky romance/friendship has ended.
Ten years post-movie ending, and Brooks tells Broadly he’s sure the two have gotten married, had kids, and April is a great stepmother to 18-year-old Maya. The couple has had their share of issues, he notes, with plenty of “challenging and pushing and big fights.”
“I think they’re good for each other and they can test each other,” Brooks says. “I can imagine that there were many flare-ups and tensions and difficult times, but that’s what binds them as much as anything else; their commitment to each other and their belief that they’re both better together than apart.”
Re-watching the film now, it’s pretty clear that April and Will have the most chemistry (I was already sold on them by the rainy cigarette scene twenty minutes in)—but it took Brooks a little while to get there. When he first pitched the film, he told the studio that he didn’t know who his lead would end up with.
“I had written a fair amount of romantic comedy and I was trying to get outside the rules a little bit, reinvent it for myself. I had this idea that it would be great to write stuff without knowing what happens,” Brooks recalls. “It made it both more fun and more scary.”
Halfway through writing, he decided it would be April. “I really loved that character,” he says. “It just sort of felt like, if it was me, that’s who I would have wanted to be with.”
Written by Guillaume Laurant
Amélie (Audrey Tautou) is a shy, big-hearted Parisian working at Two Windmills café. Nino has a day job at a porn store and collects stray pictures underneath a photobooth. They’ve never actually met, but Amélie is infatuated from afar, quietly pursuing him through a slew of elaborate schemes.
By the very end, Nino tracks down his admirer, they share a passionate embrace, and we leave behind a braver, happier Amélie.
Thankfully, that spark hasn’t faded. Laurant thinks Amélie and Nino are still a couple, and run the Two Windmills together. She’s close friends with Raymond, the painter from her building, and works alongside the same crew behind the counter. If there were ever to be a sequel, Laurant says it would revolve around everyone rallying to save the café, which would be on verge of closing.
And, most importantly, Amélie is still up to her (well-intentioned) meddling tricks. “The world has changed a lot in 20 years,” the screenwriter notes. “I could easily imagine her working on a much larger scale as a sort of Robin Hood hacker.”
The whimsical, romantic world of Amélie lives on in Laurant’s life, all these years later. He passes by the real Two Windmills café everyday when he leaves his apartment in Paris, and keeps his characters close.
“Sometimes when I don't dare to do something, I hear in me the deep voice of Raymond saying, ‘Go ahead, Guillaume...you can take life's knocks!’"
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
Written by Ronald Bass
Julianne (Julia Roberts) fought dirty to break up her best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) and his fiancé Kimmy (Cameron Diaz). She forged emails, staged an embarrassing incident at a karaoke bar, and then pretended to be engaged to her gay pal George (Rupert Everett).
Despite her best efforts, Michael and Kimmy said “I do” and rode off into the Chicago sunset. Julianne managed to right most of her wrongs and spent the couple’s wedding on the dance floor with George, finally feeling content.
Bass tells Broadly that he hasn’t seen his film in the twenty-one years since it premiered, but he still has a clear picture of where Julianne ended up. She leads a much more drama-free life now, writes a very successful food column, and makes guest appearances on television shows. Bass isn’t completely convinced that Kimmy and Michael stayed together (they had their own share of obstacles), but thinks Julianne is still friends with them both.
She’s also happily married to someone who accepts her for who she is. “I think she was looking for her George—someone who appreciated the volatile personality she had, that she had a temper, she was emotional, she could cry, she could yell,” Bass says. “I think she’s got three kids and they mean the world to her and I think she lives a very quiet, unglamorous life.”
And, he adds, “She and George are best friends.”
27 Dresses (2008)
Written by Aline Brosh McKenna
If you’ve ever bemoaned some of the more irksome responsibilities of being a bridesmaid, you can check all those complaints at the door. Jane (Katherine Heigl) has been in a staggering twenty-seven weddings. She’s worn deeply unflattering dresses, been on bridal bathroom duty, and planned her sister’s nuptials to a guy she was secretly in love with.
Along the way, she learned to let loose, stand up for herself, and, by the end of the film, married a charming journalist named Kevin (James Marsden).
Ten years later, and McKenna tells Broadly she is certain the life lessons Jane learned stuck—even if her marriage to Kevin didn’t.
“I don’t think they’re still together. I think they learned a lot from each other, but at the end of the day he’s a little bit of a rogue and she’s a little bit of a rule follower,” McKenna says. “They were very young in the movie and at the beginning of their journey of finding out who they were going to be.”
It’s a pretty fitting conclusion, considering McKenna didn’t really want Jane to end up with anybody in the first place.
“I kept trying to push the film towards being more of a character exploration and [the producer] kept pushing it back towards being a conventional romantic comedy,” McKenna recalls. “I actually stepped off the project for a couple of years because he had such a clear vision for it and I really was tugging it in a less commercial way.”
McKenna has no regrets about the way the film turned out—but she’s still not completely sold on happily ever-after endings.
“I think one of the reasons that romantic comedies ran out of gas is because we were selling stories to women that they knew instinctively weren’t true,” McKenna says. “We all know that it’s a long and complicated road to finding the right person.”