The loving couple --usually a boy and a girl—in a romantic comedy must “meet cute.” That is, when they meet each other for the first time, the situation must be “cute”—funny or unusual, or both. “They Meet Cute” was a short story in The New Yorker, May 22, 1937, and it began:
“‘THE rest of the script is fine, I boys,’ said Mr. Trumpett. ‘You’ve got a nice situation and I like the way you’ve handled your story line and I like your finish, but frankly I don’t like the beginning. They don’t meet cute.’”
Another romantic comedy-writing formula is “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl.”
Wikipedia: Meet Cute
A meet-cute is a term sometimes used to describe a situation in film, television, etc. in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time in a way that is considered adorable, entertaining, or amusing.
This type of situation is a staple of romantic comedies, commonly involving contrived, unusual, or comic circumstances. The technique creates an artificial situation contrived by the filmmakers in order to bring together characters in a theoretically entertaining manner. Frequently the meet-cute leads to a humorous clash of personalities or beliefs, embarrassing situations, or comical misunderstandings that further drive the plot.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
to meet cute : (in film-makers’ jargon, of two characters) to have an accidental meeting which leads to or is followed by romantic involvement.
1941 A. Boucher Case of Solid Key iii. 49 Last night was nice, but this is today. We met cute, as they say in story conferences; but people don’t live cute.
1956 G. Axelrod Will Success spoil Rock Hunter? 82 Irving: Dear boy, the beginning of a movie is childishly simple. The boy and girl meet. The only important thing to remember is that—in a movie—the boy and the girl must meet in some cute way. They cannot..meet like normal people at, perhaps, a cocktail party or some other social function. No. It is terribly important that they meet cute.
1966 F. Pohl Day Million in Rogue Feb.–Mar. 48/2 ‘Oh, hell!’ she cried in pretty confusion, reaching out to catch her balance and finding herself tumbled against a total stranger, whom we will call Don. They met cute.
1978 Washington Post (Nexis) 3 Feb. d6 They met ‘cute’ at something called Ohio Southern University in the late ‘40s.
The New Yorker
The New Yorker
Volume 13, Issues 14-26
May 22, 1937
THEY MEET CUTE (By Alan Campbell—ed.)
“THE rest of the script is fine, I boys,” said Mr. Trumpett. “You’ve got a nice situation and I like the way you’ve handled your story line and I like your finish, but frankly I don’t like the beginning. They don’t meet cute.”
By John Van Druten
New York, NY: Random House
First, the lovers have got to “meet cute.”
Hearst’s International Combined with Cosmopolitan
Under no circumstances could it be said that they “met cute,” which is the Hollywood formula for boy meeting girl. You know, the boy and the girl simultaneously claim the same taxi, grow angry with each other, decide to share the ride and — Comes Love.
Woman’s Home Companion
We didn’t, as they used to say in Hollywood, ‘meet cute’ ...