Baby Boom Is Our Aesthetic

If Baby Boom (1987) isn’t on your pre-Valentine’s Day rom-com lineup, it should be. It is the romantic comedy for cozy, wintery-but-not-Christmas vibes. First of all, it’s a Nancy Meyers flick so you know the kitchen’s gonna be on point. Second, it’s from 1987 and lovingly skewers the aspirational yuppies of the era – including a wholesome, organic baby food business that would STILL draw the devotion of upper-class yummy mummies today. Third, it has all of the romcom features you’ve come to know and love: a career woman who doesn’t have time for love! Unexpectedly becoming the custodian of a baby! A handsome man with a romcom job! A charming old farmhouse with problems! I am the same age as Baby Elizabeth, so the sweet pastel baby clothes are like looking into an old family album. For some reason Baby Boom seldom comes up in conversation about ’80s romcoms, but give it a watch or rewatch … it just might be your February romcom aesthetic, too.

The opening new segment

Women have jobs! They’re doctors AND lawyers! Ladies having it all! It’s SO ’80s. The higher the shoulder pads, the more cushion busting through the glass ceiling?

J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) works 70-80 hours a week. I’d rather be middle-class.

J.C.’s menswear-y satin robe and tortoiseshell glasses

It’s like she might get called to a board meeting pajama party and she dressed for it just in case.

Spoiler: her robe gets more cozy when she inherits a baby and moves to New England

Elizabeth’s  and J.C.’s “Inheriting A Baby Outfits”

J.C. inherits a baby, which is truly my dream scenario – not having to be pregnant, go through all the steps of fostering or adoption, or make an affirmative decision about whether or not I want a baby. Elizabeth (Kristina and Michelle Kennedy) wears a classic baby coat and hat and J.C. wears my favorite of her businesswear outfits, with a floppy bow, Peter Pan collar and oversized belted jacket that has almost Edwardian vibes. The shoulderpad/belt combo makes her waist look tiny, so that’s why people used to do that. She changes back into it at the end to turn down the offer to buy her baby food company, because it’s her main outfit to do important things in.

Another great one. When did we stop wearing brooches?

P.S., I get that J.C. has never held a baby before, but she has presumably held an object before and this isn’t how you do that, either.

By the way, J.C. name-drops two local-for-me companies, reminding me of how awesome my city was doing in the ’80s, comparatively.

Elizabeth …. MUDGE?!

Elizabeth almost gets adopted by two dustbowl people who come straight out of the Fake Annie’s Parents lineup in the Warbucks mansion. J.C. can’t do it. Guess she has time for love after all.

These Spiky Moms

These moms are all live-action versions of Angelica’s mom from Rugrats. They go on at length about all of the activities their toddlers are enrolled in and the extensive intellectual standards their 3-year-olds have met. Hey baby boomers, if you don’t like millennials just remember that you made us this way.

Hadleyville, In General

J.C. and Elizabeth arrive in town during the fall because Nancy Meyers knows what’s up. There’s a general store and a church, and it looks like a living history museum.

I love that J.C.’s plan for what they’ll do in New England is “get into quilts,” which should be timeless but feels very 80s Businesswoman Who Has Had It.

J.C.’s Yellow Farmhouse, Exterior

J.C. buys a dollhouse-looking yellow clapboard farmhouse. I want it. It’s cheerful and sweet with tasteful landscaping. There are window boxes and real shutters! However, the plumbing is shot and will cost $7,000-8,000 which feels steep for 30 years ago? For reference I recently repiped only my basement (copper, because go big or go home) and it was maybe like $1,500. Oh, and she also needs a new roof and well. But it looks so nicely-maintained?

It’s even cuter in spring because this house was made to have tulips and rabbits around.

As usual, our __ Is Our Aesthetic posts feature movies with absolutely delightful houses. That’s why images of the Baby Boom house will take you to the Hooked On Houses post for this film. It’s one of my favorite blogs and they do a great job highlighting some of the most charming homes in TV and film.

J.C.’s House During The Snowstorm

Living in a snowy city, sometimes it takes seeing it onscreen to remember how pretty it is.

The Richies From NY

Some rich people go to the local general store and can’t get enough of the authentic boots, plaid shirts, and baby food that J.C. made. They’re exactly like the 2018 version of yuppies, honestly.

The whole movie feels really modern because the home business is so familiar today — but in a time before Pinterest/Etsy moms and Whole Foods in every city, J.C. was seriously cutting edge. When I was watching I was reminded of a later Nancy Meyers film, The Intern, and apparently that was no mistake. The kitchen from The Intern even echoes the muted blue cabinets from Baby Boom!

The Hadleyville maple festival

This small-town maple festival is exactly how I want my parties. All the ladies wear big Sloane Ranger dresses, there are twinkling lights, and everyone just kind of talks and has snacks. There’s a mural with a barn and some geese on it. Nobody’s suit fits right. Get into it.

J.C.’s Nancy Meyers Kitchen

Nancy was still new to the charming romcom kitchen game in 1987, but all her talent was there from the start. Vintage-style fridge, exposed ceiling beams, baskets, fireplace and clapboard. The cabinets are painted the exact powdery blue I keep seeing in chalk paint now. Windows everywhere. There’s enough space for a work table, an eating table, a couch, hutch and a rocking chair, plus space to tap dance around all of them if you’re so inclined.  The cabinet fronts are fitted with gingham. J.C. and the handsome vet have their first kiss in the kitchen because all any woman wants is to have a first kiss in a Nancy Meyers kitchen.

The Yellow Farmhouse, Interior

First of all, I love how the woodwork isn’t perfectly freshly painted, so it looks like someone actually has lived there a long time. Second, check out these wood floors, comfy Laura Ashley-looking furniture, natural light, and worn-in looking antiques.

 

 

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Expectations vs. Reality: RomCom Cliches

If you expected this final post of RomCom Week to include a huge grand declaration of love for you, I’m here to burst your bubble because it’s not going to happen. JUST KIDDING, WE APPRECIATE ALL OF YOU READERS AND OUR LOVE IS AS PERFECT AS THE END OF ALL ROMCOMS.

But for serious, these movies tend to make our expectations high regarding our real life relationships, and most of the time, we just don’t get that perfect movie ending. So we’re here to lay some truth nuggets on you about some of the most used RomCom cliches used over the years. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

Expectation: You move to a new city and you immediately get along with your neighbors and everyone you encounter.

Reality: You have no friends except your mailman and the barista at the Starbucks down the street who gives you free Venti upgrades because he feels sorry for you.

Expectation: You have a great job in your mid-20s and you actually love it. You’ll be a high-power lawyer or own your own bookstore/bakery or architect or gallery curator at the Guggenheim.

Reality: Working a job you’re just fine with and still paying that little bitch Sallie Mae all of your student loans.

Expectation: Makeovers bring all the boys and girls to the yard.

Reality: No one does a better you than yourself.

Expectation: You can fall down all the time – while carrying things, down stairs, up stairs – but miraculously get up a bit humiliated, but otherwise okay.

Reality: If you fall down in front of your crush, worst-case scenario they’re going to watch you hobble off to Urgent Care to get your ankle X-rayed, best case scenario you’re getting up with a run in your stockings, a broken shoe, and stains from the coffee you were carrying. Which means you’re also going to smell like old coffee for the rest of the day.

Expectation:  You will have one less-attractive best friend whose whole purpose in life is to listen to your romantic problems then give you advice.

Reality: Your friends have their own lives. Or give bad advice. Or are prettier than you. Sorry.

Expectation: There will always be a Token (minority/gay best friend, etc.) to make snarky comments and witty side banter while you tell tales of your romantic plight.

 

Reality: Okay, so this may be true, but I’m just bringing this up because maybe it’s time the Token becomes the protagonist more often? Just saying.

Expectation: Once you meet a guy you’re into, you run into him all of the time at parties, grocery shopping, book stores, the park…

Reality: Option 1: That doesn’t really happen, so you actually have to decide to see each other on purpose, which is a lot trickier. Option 2: You DO run into each other all the time, and you can’t decide whether you’re more worried that you look like a stalker, or he is a stalker.

Expectation: When you can’t stand someone, it’s probably because you secretly love him.

Reality: When you can’t stand someone, it’s probably because you can’t stand him.

Expectation: You’ve been secretly (or maybe not-so-secretly) in love with your best guy/girl friend for years and when you finally get the guts to confess your feelings, they reciprocate with their own confession of love.

Reality: Sometimes friends are just friends. Sorry, boo boo. He’s just not that into you.

Expectation: Your relationship will kick off with a grand declaration of love.

Reality: You’ll kind of start hanging out more and more, and then after a month or two you have that “so, what ARE we anyway?” conversation.

Expectation: Your quirks are adorable. Every weird thing you do becomes another item on your love interest’s Meet Virginia-esque, Drops Of Jupiter-y list of things he thinks are precious about you.

Reality: Weird people are weird. Nobody thinks it’s cute that you’re so cold that you sleep in sweatshirts, or that you hate the sound of other people chewing, or that you make up your own lyrics to pop songs in the car. At best, they tolerate it.

Expectation: Once you find love, all your problems will be gone and you’ll live happily ever after.

yes, this is from grey’s anatomy. it counts because she spits the truth.

Reality: False. Ultimately, only you can make yourself happy. If you’re happy as a person and happy as a half of a couple, right on. But just being in love isn’t always enough.

Where Are They Now: Little Boys With Bowl Cuts From 90s RomComs

All of the best movies from the Golden Age Of The RomCom – the 1990s – have one thing in common. No, it’s not Meg Ryan, and it’s not Julia Roberts either. Give up? It’s a little boy with a bowl cut. Sleepless in Seattle: little boy with a bowl cut. Father Of The Bride: LBWBC (that’s our abbreviation for Little Boy With Bowl Cut, but I’m sure you caught that). She’s All That: LBWBC… the same LBWBC as Father Of The Bride. All of these little boys with bowl cuts have grown into men by now, so let’s see what they – and their bowl cuts – are up to today.

Sleepless In Seattle

The little boy with the bowl cut: Jonah (Ross Malinger) is a wise-beyond-his-years tot who calls a radio show to find love for his widowed dad, Sam. Jonah is best pals with Jessica, a miniature Gaby Hoffmann. The most badass bowl cut in the genre, little Jonah flies cross-country to help his Pops meet the lady of his dreams.

Was it a good bowl cut? LOOK at this freaking bowl cut. Perfectly follows his head contours, rich brown coloring, neither too puffy nor too limp: this is the bowl cuts all other bowl cuts aspire to be.

Where is he now? Little Jonah attended three different schools during his fourth grade year, as Sam and his main squeeze Annie tried to decide whether to live in Seattle, Baltimore, or somewhere in the middle (which was short lived, because the middle was Kansas). He and Jessica briefly dated in high school. Jonah now works as a travel agent.

Does he still have a bowl cut? I could see that. That full, tidy helmet of a bowl cut is too beautiful to waste.

One Fine Day

The little boy with the bowl cut: Sammy (Alex D. Linz, the most celebrated Boy With A Bowl Cut of the mid-90s) is the child of harried single mom, Melanie (Michelle Pfeiffer). Melanie has a hectic meet-cute when she accidentally swaps cell phones with the harried single dad (George Clooney) of Maggie (an itty-bitty Mae Whitman, whom we now know and love as Parenthood’s Amber). Sammy is a bit less precocious than Jonah. The Sleepless In Seattle bowl-cut boy meant to help his dad out, but this kiddo just keeps tying up his mom’s schedule so that she keeps running into Clooney. Important thing to remember about this movie: it was long enough ago (1996) that the mere fact that both adults had cell phones that they used outside of emergencies meant that they were very busy and important.

Was it a good bowl cut? It’s a bad bowl cut. Not bad in the “not good” sense but bad like hardass and dripping with danger. Look how ruffled and sun-bleached it is. It’s a bowl cut on the edge, and neither comb nor convention can constrain it.

Where is he now? Like most neglected children, Sammy is a pretty happy kid because nobody’s keeping tabs on him. He’s also a pretty hellish teenager. The adults manage to make their relationship work, and Sammy and Maggie spend high school smoking and drinking and throwing parties during their parents’ frequent business trips. Inspired by his stepdad’s career, Sammy goes to J-school and gets nepotismed into a low-status section of the New York Daily News, before ultimately getting downgraded to a staff blogger.

Does he still have a bowl cut? No way.

You’ve Got Mail

The little boy with the bowl cut: Matthew Fox (Jeffrey Scaperrotta) is the little half-brother of Joe (Tom Hanks), the heir to a book megastore dynasty. Together with Joe’s aunt Annabel (a little girl), Matt serves the purpose of making Joe seem more kind-hearted and appealing to children’s bookstore owner Kathleen (Meg Ryan).

Was it a good bowl cut? Yeah, it’s fine.

Where is he now? After Annabel’s father dies (because he is like 80), she moves in with Matt’s family and becomes his sort-of sister. Then Matt’s father dies too, not because I have a particularly bleak outlook on things but because those virile Fox men fathered children into their 70s. Anyway, they both move in with Joe and Kathleen, and there’s no real family strife. Their fake mom runs a children’s bookstore and Matt wears turtlenecks, for goodness sake. They’re perfect. Matt’s biggest rebellion is choosing the Boxcar Children over The Bobbsey Twins. In the present day, Matt heads up the children’s division of Fox Books. Kathleen maintains an infuriatingly cute mommy blog/ Pinterest account. You saw how cute her shop is.

Does he still have a bowl cut? Oh, he absolutely still has a bowl cut.

As Good As It Gets

The little boy with the bowl cut: Spencer (Jesse James) is our most delicate Little Boy With A Bowl Cut. You can tell because his bowl cut is blond and tousled, not a robust brunette bowl cut like the healthier Sammy or Matt. He has an unnamed, mysterious disease which worries his waitress mom Carol (Helen Hunt), but not enough to keep her from hooking up with an old guy (Jack Nicholson).

Was it a good bowl cut? You know how, when a human dies, even if you were lukewarm on them before, once they’re dead they were your favorite and the very best? Well. This bowl cut was my favorite and the very best.

Where is he now? RIP. That mystery disease was bad news.

Does he still have a bowl cut? No. Because RIP. That bowl cut was a fair flower, not long to blossom in this world.

Father Of The Bride

The little boy with the bowl cut: Matty (because boys from RomComs are named Matthew) is Annie’s kid brother (because women from RomComs are named Annie). When she comes home from Europe and announces her engagement, the whole family falls into a tizzy planning the wedding, as dad George (Steve Martin) struggles to let go of his little girl. In the sequel, Father Of The Bride Part II, Matty’s mom (Diane Keaton) and sister are both expecting babies at the same time

Was it a good bowl cut? No, it was the WORST bowl cut. Lank and flat, like whatever the less-full version of a bowl is (colander maybe?).

Where is he now? After watching his father wax nostalgic about playing basketball with big sis Annie  – seemingly forgetting that he still had a small child at home – Matty realizes he’ll never measure up to his sister. Instead, he focuses on being the best big bro possible to Baby Megan. There was recently a rumor that Steve Martin would be filming a sequel where he plays the father of the groom (an all-grown-up Matty!) in a same-sex wedding. I like that. Let’s go with that.

Does he still have a bowl cut? I have never seen a bowl cut on a gay man, although I’m sure they must exist. So, in a word, no.

She’s All That

The little boy with the bowl cut: Your eyes aren’t fooling you, you’ve seen that bowl cut before! Kieran Culkin, the baby brother from Father Of The Bride, is the baby brother once again. He and his sister Laney are raised by their single dad after the death of their mother. Unlike Laney, Simon realizes that Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is a trashy garbage dude-bro. Simon also has hearing aids, for some reason. On one hand it’s very cool to have a disability that isn’t an issue in a movie, on the other hand WTF just tell us what’s up with his hearing, you know?

Was it a good bowl cut? With all due respect to those great PSAs, it gets worse. It’s PARTED. There’s a tendril on his FOREHEAD. It’s like a limper version of Dorothy HAMILL.

Where is he now? Trudging through every family Christmas with his much-hated brother-in-law Zack, playing with his nephews Brayler and Kylan (because of course that’s what Zack The Bro would call his children), doing something in I.T. probably. He got cochlear implants, not that anyone really noticed or cared about Simon’s hearing anyway. Or Simon in general.

Does he still have a bowl cut? Nah. He only had that to cover his hearing aids.

Bowl Cuts: An Epilog

The craze (?) for Little Boys With Bowl Cuts continued into the romantic comedies of the early 2000s. The golden age was over, but lustrous bowl cuts still made appearances in About A Boy, Love Actually and Raising Helen. With the post-9/11 economy and Great Recession, the cost of maintaining bowl cuts became too much to muster. The bowl cut may have died, but as long as we have Netflix or Cable TV, they will live in our hearts and screens forevermore.