Netflix heads in heartfelt direction with new film
The release of the Netflix original movie “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” on Aug. 17 produced an uproar and following unparalleled by any romantic comedy in the past decade. To be clear, the recent movies based off of books by John Green do not count as rom-coms, they’re simply young-adult romance movies with extremely sad endings. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a far departure from any movie relating to teens that has been released recently, and it is far from anything Netflix has ever done before 2018. Netflix, as a streaming device, has broadened its horizons beyond their typical original movie and television series. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is only one of many catalysts that will launch Netflix into this new realm of rom-coms, which will therefore broaden their audience and demographics.
Movies like “The Kissing Booth” and “Set It Up,” which were both released a few months prior to “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” laid the foundations for this shift in the demographic that Netflix had primarily catered to before. Instead of producing more movies or TV shows similar to “Black Mirror” or “Ozark,” Netflix has been creating originals that tug on our heart-strings while still relating to the modern young adult. With these additions, no longer do these young adults need to reflect on the dated yet classic films such as “Sixteen Candles” or “Pretty in Pink.”
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” follows the principle character, Lara Jean Covey, as she tries to get over her most recent crush, who also happens to be her sister's most recent ex-boyfriend, by pretending to date her enemy’s ex-boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky. This snowball effect gradually pulls Lara Jean out of this fantasy world that she created for herself all began because of five secret letters she had written to her crushes that were mailed to them without her knowing.
With two relatively new actors playing the main love interests, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a fresh new take on what it means to be a teenager in this period where social media controls our every move while avoiding clichés typical to early ‘80s and ‘90s rom-coms. Lara Jean, portrayed by Lana Candor, emphasizes the need in the film and television industry for better representation. With the exception of the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” and the show “Fresh Off the Boat,” there have not been many productions that focus solely on an Asian family. Lara Jean’s Korean heritage is what connects her and her story beyond this romantic point of view; this emphasis on her heritage highlights the love and loss that she feels in her life as well as the importance of her relationship with her family.
What “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” does that has seldom been seen in rom-coms is feature a legitimately nice guy in Noah Centineo’s character, Peter Kavinsky. He helped Lara Jean get out of this cocoon that she was living in, and he constantly proved that all other rom-com male leads are trash in comparison. It is no wonder that since the release of the movie, the name Noah Centineo has been circulating all throughout social media and thousands of people are wishing for their own Peter Kavinsky.
As Netflix progresses toward producing more of these widely acclaimed original rom-coms, it can be expected that more movies that express the same values as “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” will become the norm. There will be better representation, and a stronger portrayal of women and a kinder portrayal of men. This is only the beginning of a new era for Netflix.