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Volume 12, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 1474-2756
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0578



This article discusses the German romantic comedy What a Man (Schweighöfer, 2011) as a continuation of the Comedy Wave of 1990s German film. Eric Rentschler dismissed these ‘New German Comedies’ for being conservative and pedestrian in form and content, considering them the epitome of the ‘cinema of consensus’. It is argued that What a Man, while highly similar to the 1990s ‘relationship comedies’ in its narrative structure and content, is indicative of a shift in dominant ideas and values relating to romantic relationships between the 1990s and 2010s, moving away from a display of male chauvinism and sexism and replacing it with gender images that reflect both the ongoing female emancipation and a crisis of masculinity. What a Man is analysed in relation to two current sub-genres of the romantic comedy, the German ‘postromance’ and the American ‘geek-centred comedy’, in order to place the film within discernible production trends that explore changing gender roles in western societies. The article also situates What a Man in the context of German film production by exploring how its generic affiliation, choice of location and use of public funding ensure its success as a mainstream, popular film.


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