It’s been nearly two months since I’ve worked on my screenplay. Most of this break has been devoted to researching the genre I have chosen, romantic comedy, and figuring out how I’m going to expand my previously 45-minute short into a 90-minute feature film. So far, it has not be smooth sailing (i.e. finding a new name for my fictional town), there is one aspect that I want to explore before I return to the screenplay: interracial romance.
I want to craft a script in which the interracial part is no the central theme of it. It will be more like “Well, the characters just happen to be of different races.” My female protagonist, the script’s lead, is African American, and her object of desire is of Greek ancestry. When I created the characters, it seemed like a natural progression. I’m an open-minded person and that’s to be reflected in the screenplay.
However, a search through Internet Movie Database for keywords “interracial romance” under comedy films yielded mostly examples of fetishized takes on such relationships. These films are sometimes led by a bankable minority male (that would be you, Will Smith) paired with a white woman. The reverse, a white male with a minority woman, is most likely told through the male’s point of view with the woman following his lead. The female is part of the man’s path to finding himself (“Bulworth” and the “Alfie” remake topping that trope).
A look at what TV Tropes says about the subject is enough to cause someone to throw something at the screen.
There are a few, thankfully, that giving equal footing to the leads or looks at interracial romance through the eyes of the minority female. It involves the characters determining their own destiny, something I hope to accomplish with my own script.
Here are some examples:
“Away We Go” (2009)
The Sam Mendes-directed film stars John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as Burt and Verona, a couple about to have a baby. They visit friends and family in hopes to moving near a family that would be ideal to have nearby as they raise their child. Race is not used as a plot device, and is only alluded to with the casting of Carmen Ejogo as Verona’s sister. Krasinski and Rudolph’s relationship is not new, so it’s expected that whatever “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” clichés would have worked their way out of the script.
“My Last Day Without You” (2011)
The slight romantic comedy features a pre-”Sleepy Hollow” Nicole Beharie as a Brooklyn singer who meets a German executive (Ken Duken) who has one day in town. The premise is interesting: two people meet through a chance encounter, irony ensues and a lackluster decision is made at the end. While the focus is on the couple, the movie does rely on racial and enthic stereotypes through other characters. A sly remark by the German doesn’t help matter. Nevertheless, it’s an example of two leads with their own storylines.
“Infinitely Polar Bear” (2015)
Starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana, “Infinitely Polar Bear” centers around a father suffering for bipolar disorder raising two daughters while his wife is away earning a business degree. The issue of race is only a minor issue as the focus is on the father’s illness. It’s striking in that it takes place in the 1970s, only a decade after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Loving case. Like “Away We Go,” there is no set-up for the couple, so it’s for the audience to decide if the couple has encountered any race-related issues.
“Celeste and Jesse Forever” (2012)
This one is a rare case where an interracial relationship is not acknowledged. Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg star as a couple in the middle of a divorce but try to remain best friends. The split has an effect on their friends. Jones co-wrote the script with Will McCormack. Again, it’s another couple that has no set-up.