Romantic comedies are a tricky business. Getting the balance of feel-good romance, comedy and somewhat realistic relationships just right is not an easy thing, and many of these movies are less-than-fulfilling for a lot of fans of the genre. One thing that's been especially true over the years, is that these movies tend to be pretty divided along line of race, with us either following BIPOC as they fall in love, or two white characters. Now, though, after his Love, Guaranteed success for Netflix, Damon Wayans Jr. is set to star in a new film for the streamer that's got me even more excited.
According to Deadline, Damon Wayans Jr. is on board to play one of the leads in Players, a new Netflix rom-com which will also star Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez and Lucifer's Tom Ellis. The story, which is by Ozark and Daredevil scribe Whit Anderson, will follow Chicago sportswriter Mack (Rodriguez), when she falls in love after years of coming up with winning hookup "plays" with her best buddy, Adam (Wayans Jr.). But, now that she's found herself falling hard for one of her hookup targets (Ellis), Mack and Adam have to figure out "what it takes to go from simply scoring to playing for keeps."
Aside from the fact that this set up already sounds pretty great for a rom-com, I love that the movie is doing several things differently from what you usually see in this type of film. First of all, I absolutely love that Players focuses mostly on the love life of a BIPOC woman. Obviously, there are several other romantic comedies that do this, but they don't usually get the kind of mainstream love they deserve. Gina Rodriguez herself starred in such a movie for Netflix in 2019, Someone Great, and has more than proven that she's awesome at handling a wide variety of romantic plotlines.
That film, however, was not your standard romantic comedy, mostly because it focused on a woman getting over a difficult breakup. And, though it ended happily, it did not end with Rodriguez's character in a happy relationship, which is something that a lot of rom-com lovers would prefer when we watch these types of films. All you have to do is take note of how successful the many, many dozens of Hallmark made for TV romances are to know that.
While it's 1000% true that Hallmark never fails at bringing audiences a sweet, we're-totally-in-love-forever-now happily ever after for every couple they show, the network has not been good at making sure we get to see a lot of diverse romances over its several years of filling pretty much every month with new romances. While this is starting to change more and more (mostly because of fan outcry), the network's movies are still very much mostly in a "two white folks fall in love" or a "two black folks fall in love" mode, with not many interracial romances or people of color in those romances bringing in a fuller scope of diversity.
But, here's Netflix, giving us two main characters of color in Gina Rodriguez and Damon Wayans Jr. for Players. Her Mack may not be falling in love with another BIPOC, but we're probably guaranteed to see Wayans Jr. a lot as Adam, as opposed to him being relegated to a sexless secondary character.
And, not for nothing, but the number of rom-coms which take the story from a woman's point of view and also set her as the one previously only interested in hooking up who then has to figure out falling in love, are very few and far between. I'm glad Players is letting a woman gleefully enjoy her hoe time, OK? Men get to do it on screen all the time, and ladies should be afforded the same opportunity to watch other women enjoy some romantic exploration in movies before figuring out a serious love thing, and without somehow being punished for it. All of this has me very excited for Players, so I can't wait to see the final result!