One of the biggest rites of passage for a newish romance involves taking your significant other home for the holidays to meet your family. It’s a real pressure cooker even if you know your family to be generally nice and welcoming to outsiders who are sleeping with their adult children. What if your boyfriend’s joke about your mom’s cooking just comes out sounding like an insult? Worse yet, what if someone brings up politics?
That brings us to romantic comedies. Some of the male love interests would do way better at family holiday gatherings than others. In no particular order, here are the best and worst romantic comedy love interests to bring home this year.
Dr. Aaron Connors (Bill Hader) in Trainwreck
His extreme patience with people who drink too much should come in handy after you’ve had a glass or three of Grandma’s famous holiday sangria. If you put some Billy Joel on the record player, he may even entertain you with stories of hanging out with his BFF, LeBron James.
Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) in The Proposal
This guy will agree to a sham marriage to keep his Canadian boss from being deported, so he’s probably not going to have any issues with your family’s gag gift exchange. It’s hard to phase someone who’s willing to commit immigration fraud. He’s from Alaska, so maybe he can bring some sort of moose-scented potpourri or something.
Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) in Bridget Jones’s Diary
This was a tough call, because Darcy didn’t exactly make a great first impression in the movie. But we know he’s willing to wear goofy Christmas sweaters, which should endear him to your family. There’s also the English accent. Everything sounds more charming with an English accent, so he should be fine.
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Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) in The Big Sick
As a struggling stand-up comedian, he’ll probably have some sympathy for all the terrible puns your dad makes. Luckily, his own material will be funnier than your dad’s. One word of advice, though: tread carefully around any jokes involving the term “food coma.”
Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) in Crazy, Stupid, Love
If your mom runs out of plates for dessert, you can just eat pumpkin pie off his chiseled abs. Heck, you might want to do that anyway, albeit not at the dinner table. Don’t ask him to do the Dirty Dancing lift, though. Such stunts should not be attempted when everyone is groggy from eating too much turkey.
Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) in Knocked Up
He’s not a bad guy, just lazy and stoned and prone to getting women he barely knows pregnant. It’s one thing if you look pregnant after eating three servings of sweet potato casserole, but you probably don’t want to get impregnated during a family holiday gathering. Food babies are a lot easier to deal with than actual babies.
Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) in Bridget Jones’s Diary
Roughly half of the roles Hugh Grant has played would have been suitable for this side of the list, but we’ll go with the lying, womanizing Brit who enjoys sleeping with his subordinates. Perhaps worst of all, he uses that charming English accent for evil instead of good.
Mark (Andrew Lincoln) in Love Actually
I get that unrequited love sucks, but I have a feeling that he’d bring the cue cards to the dinner table, and that’s simply not going to fly. Someone needs to take his “At Christmas you tell the truth” card and burn it in the fireplace. That’s not a Christmas tradition where I’m from. I’m a Southerner; we’re experts at saying “bless your heart” in a passive-aggressive way. I’m convinced Mark is thinking of Festivus and the Airing of Grievances.
Sam (Michael Vartan) in Never Been Kissed
If you want to make a journalist angry, mention this movie’s portrayal of how the industry supposedly works. Drew Barrymore’s character, Josie, has some serious issues, but so does her love interest, Sam. By the way, he’s also her English teacher, but don’t worry, she’s 25, so it’s OK for them to make out on a baseball field once the truth is revealed. The whole “It’s not creepy because she’s not actually a student” thing doesn’t work for me, and I don’t want this Sam guy hanging out around any of my teenage relatives.
Michael O’Neal (Dermot Mulroney) in My Best Friend’s Wedding
He would never be able to decide between the ham and turkey, so he’d probably just take some of both. I know this because, in the movie, he has no problem having an unusually intimate friendship with Julia Roberts’ Julianne (the marriage pact is a groaner) even as he prepares to marry Cameron Diaz’s way-too-young Kimmy. Everyone in this movie does stupid things. I’ll give the film some credit for not having a happy ending, but it’s all too easy to imagine Michael running back to Julianne after his marriage to Kimmy inevitably flames out.
This article was originally published on November 9th, 2017.
Featured still from "Knocked Up" via Universal Pictures