The Alarming Rise of the Wholesome Romance

The Alarming Rise of the Wholesome Romance Once upon a time, in a universe much like our own, the United States of America had a female President. And that female President had a son. His name was Alex Claremont-Diaz, and he had a plan to help his mom flip Texas blue. Then he met Henry, a literal British prince. It was mutual rancor at first sight; down-to-earth Alex thought Henry a snob, and haughty Henry thought Alex an ill-mannered commoner. This antipathy escalated into an international incident at the royal wedding of Henry’s older brother, which climaxed in a giant cake toppling and burying them under layers of fluffy icing. Fast-forward through a handful of publicity stunts designed to sell the public on their friendship, and the two young men are hopelessly, hornily in love. But neither is openly queer. “Prince Henry belongs to Britain,” Henry explains. The Alarming Rise of the Wholesome Romance If you’re worried this is all destined to end in heartbreak (and geopolitical catastrophe) then you probably aren’t familiar with Casey McQuiston, who dreamed up the scenario in their hit 2019 novel Red, White, and Royal Blue. Now back on bestseller lists in anticipation of a frothy new adaptation, debuting Aug. 11 on Prime Video, Royal Blue is emblematic of a new generation of love story that has conquered pop culture. I call it wholesome romance. More From TIME Decorated with cute illustrations of adorable couples, wholesome-romance covers leap out from bookstore displays in gummy-candy hues. Whether shelved as contemporary romance, YA, or new adult (coming-of-age stories about people in their 20s), these buoyant books take place in more idyllic versions of our reality, full of gentle humor and blessed with happy endings. The stakes are low, the people kind, the sex scenes PG-13 or vanilla. And the books-like Heartstopper (based on Alice Oseman’s comic), which just dropped its second season on Netflix; and Amazon’s The Summer I Turned Pretty, whose author Jenny Han’s YA romances have fueled three movies and two TV series since 2018-are getting snapped up by Hollywood. […]