Annie (Meg Ryan) and Sam (Tom Hanks) finally unite in Sleepless in Seattle's iconic Empire State Building sceneTWITTER/ACTORSWOJOBS

It’s no secret that the plot of the classic romantic comedy is a thing of the past. Even before COVID-19, meet-cute potential was significantly restrained by our increasingly digital world, in which coffee shops and library dates find themselves redundant. But attempts to modernise these vintage love stories have, for me at least, flopped.

“For me, love always seemed a bit more interesting when found between two adults, who then had to try and meld together two completely opposite lives.”

I think the main thing that always drew me to classic rom coms was the ages of the characters. I had no interest in watching teenage girls cry to their parents about the one boy who would definitely be there forever, or the portrayal of high-school prom as the pinnacle event in each character’s life. No: for me, love always seemed a bit more interesting when found between two adults, who then had to try and meld together two completely opposite lives. The dilemmas of losing jobs, trying to raise children and difficult families were infinitely more fascinating to me than a piece of maths homework due on Monday.

Hanks and Ryan co-star once more in Ephron's You've Got MailTWITTER/THE_ROLLYJOGER

In the most typically tragic way, I have always loved Nora Ephron’s movies. Seeing Sleepless in Seattle for the first time with my mum, aunt and sister, thirteen-year-old me was convinced that I’d find the love of my life atop a large building in the most ridiculously romantic way possible. Destiny and true love collided in the perfect Valentine’s Day expectations. However unrealistic they might seem, her movies just work.

Lara Condor and Noah Centineo star in the book-to-movie adaptation of To All the Boys I've Loved BeforeTWITTER/SLASHFILM

When I then watched You’ve Got Mail shortly afterwards, I had high hopes for the future of rom coms. Ephron seamlessly introduces technology into the romance, albeit in the form of an annoyingly slow email chain. It seemed to me that no matter how intrusive technology became, we would still get glorious scenes like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks’ final meeting in the New York gardens. Not even Ryan’s questionable haircut could dissuade me from idolising the tropes of films like these.

Now don’t get me wrong, I see why these films don’t fit in our modern society. The characters fill painfully stereotypical gender roles, with the women having an almost masochistic tendency to endure men telling them what they need. All the relationships are hetero, white, and boring. The rom com genre is large, and going into recent years there was a sizable gap to be filled.

“I have realised that, ultimately, the disappointment of these films lies in an obsession with modernisation.”

But many of the most recent rom coms have utterly let me down. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was such a success that I was sure I’d enjoy it, but I had to stop watching it after the first half an hour. It was a sweet idea, but carried out awfully. Similarly, The Kissing Booth showed promise: a hot older brother, a friendship just waiting to be betrayed, and a high school ritual none of us actually took part in. But yet again, I was let down. Was this really the best that Netflix had to offer?

Netflix has released not one, not two, but soon to be three instalments in the Kissing Booth franchiseTWITTER/GIBBOANXIOUS

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I have realised that, ultimately, the disappointment of these films lies in an obsession with modernisation. Not everything about Ephron’s classics needed to be changed. The stories of adults with existing problems, set in landmark cities and characterised by slightly extravagant visuals, are ones that could easily be empathised with in 2021. With a few adaptations to controversial characters and an effort to diversify storylines, I have high hopes that the modern rom com could once again reach the reputation of a Valentine’s Day classic. But for now, I’ll be binge-watching Ephron’s originals with a large bottle of wine and an expectation for 2021 to do better.