Heads up: this article contains a fair number of spoilers, so if you’re really committed to watching Noah Centineo make out with every 19-year-old C-list actress, be warned.
If you follow me on any social media, you probably know I have finally returned home from studying abroad. That means I’ll be spending the next few weeks hate-watching my friends’ tropical vacation stories and cheesy Netflix rom-coms.
Full disclosure, I love a good (and by good, I mean really bad) rom-com. There are few things I find more entertaining than watching Mila Kunis act “emotionally unavailable.” Not to brag, but I, too, have been called emotionally unavailable, which means my best efforts to do her proud are paying off. However, as Netflix continues to churn out sh*tty rom-coms faster than FashionNova makes knock-offs of what the Kardashians wear, it’s important to ask ourselves if these movies are doing more harm than good to the target audience—namely, young girls. Generally, rom-coms tend to take behavior that is questionable at best and make it into this romanticized, melodramatic story that is totally irresistible. After watching SEVEN Netflix originals and three classic rom-coms, I have produced a list of the top four unhealthy behaviors these movies promote.
Treating People Like Second Choices
This behavior seems to be a staple in Noah Centineo movies. Seriously, the only real differences between To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Perfect Date are that Centineo is way hotter in the first and a PG-13 escort in the second. It’s like Noah Centineo is the Little Mermaid, and instead of trading his voice with Netflix in return for legs, he gave up his good looks for a multi-picture Netflix deal. Anyway, I digress.
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No one should get in a relationship with someone who treats them like a second choice, which is extremely common in rom-coms, specifically in Netflix’s newer films. In To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Centineo’s character Peter Kavinsky pretends to date Lara Jean, but only because he wants to get his ex back. Surprise, surprise, he ends up falling for Lara Jean, even though it seems pretty clear that it never would have happened if his ex took him back in the first place. In The Perfect Date, he basically asks the girl that likes him, Celia, to fake-break up with him in public, complete with personal attacks and all, so that he can get the girl he thinks he wants, as if that wouldn’t leave serious emotional damage. However, Netflix wraps this behavior up pretty neatly, with the two main characters declaring their love for each other on the school’s lacrosse field or a sub shop as if suddenly, all is well.
Call me cynical, but if it was me, it would be pretty f*cking sus if some guy spontaneously stopped being in love with his ex-girlfriend and claimed that he was all in for me. I don’t buy it when I see that happen in real life, and I’m sure as hell not buying it from a cheesy Netflix movie.
If you haven’t seen the movie After, stop everything and watch it. Immediately. Not sure if it falls into the rom-com category, but it was, by far, the most absurd thing I have ever seen. Honestly, it was a train wreck I couldn’t look away from. The movie delves into a lot of problematic behaviors, but one I want to address upfront is cheating.
Our protagonist, Tessa, is a sweet, studious girl entering her freshman year in college and keeping her high school boyfriend. But, like, all it takes is one glance at a ~mysterious~ hot guy at a frat party and gone are all her morals. Okay, Tessa, we’ve all been there, but just do the right thing and break up with your guy from high school first. And for Christ’s sake, do NOT go hook up with your new man while your boyfriend is visiting! Yes, Hardin (aforementioned mysterious hot guy) also has all sorts of problematic qualities, which I will address later on, but right now I am just focused on Tessa’s cheating and how the movie makes us think it’s okay because she’s just super passionate.
Whether or not you believe “once a cheater, always a cheater,” it should give you pause if someone cheats on their significant other with you and then wants to have a relationship. First of all, wtf ever happened to the rebound period? Second of all, how do you even set boundaries on appropriate behavior with this person? The whole foundation of your relationship is based on them being a cheater so… good luck with that.
Cheating is literally never okay. It isn’t any less awful because you have feelings for the person you did it with (or, in the case of After, want to have a few super-hot, hate-fueled make-out sessions with).
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I don’t think this should have to be said, but I guess it’s necessary. Sierra Burgess is a Loser might actually be one of the best movies Netflix has ever made (don’t @ me, I said what I said). Nevertheless, the premise of the film is still pretty questionable. In the movie, Sierra Burgess catfishes Jamey, played by none other than Netflix’s resident generically hot guy Noah Centineo, texting him under the guise that she is a hot cheerleader named Veronica (who, conveniently, attends a rival high school, and, of course, is Sierra’s bully). Sierra and Jamey text regularly, and while there’s something to be said for falling for someone’s personality and not their looks, she still catfished him. To make matters worse, Sierra goes so far as to befriend the real Veronica so that she can keep up the act when Jamey inevitably asks to FaceTime.
Naturally, Jamey kisses the real Veronica when he sees her for the first time at a football game. Sierra assumes Veronica is still bullying her by kissing Jamey, whom she is now in love with, and publicly humiliates her during halftime. Uh, no, Sierra, Jamey literally has no idea who you are BECAUSE YOU NEVER TOLD HIM!!! How much easier your life could have been if you had told the truth from the beginning.
These huge lies are the foundation for the plot in so many romcoms, from How to Lose A Guy in Ten Days to Sierra Burgess is a Loser. But obviously—and again, I can’t believe this is something that even needs to be said—this behavior is unacceptable in real life. There’s a reason most of the relationships on Catfish don’t work out, and it’s because (among other things) people generally don’t like being lied to.
Listen, I’m not totally against some innocuous game playing, especially where f*ckboys are concerned. However, when the games become the whole relationship or when the other person isn’t into it, sh*t starts to get messy. And not in a fun Real Housewives way.
Back to my new favorite movie to hate on, After. The whole reason the male lead, Hardin, even talks to Tessa (and makes her cheat on her boyfriend) is because he bet his friends he could have sex with her and make her fall in love with him, and also he wants to make another girl jealous. She consequently loses her virginity to him, and
in the book One Direction fan fiction version of the movie, he SHOWS HIS FRIENDS THE SHEETS. It’s all just f*cked up on so many levels.
Hard pass on using a person to make someone else jealous without their knowledge, using a person to win a misogynistic bet, and an even harder pass on making a person fall in love with you under false pretenses. However, when alllll of this ludicrous behavior is reconciled with a half-assed apology and a hot kiss in the rain, it’s easy to forget just how toxic the behavior is.
Just because I can recognize these behaviors does not mean I’m not above falling victim to the negative messages these movies send. When I was a 16-year-old, nothing was more romantic to me than Chuck and Blair’s passionate relationship, which I now realize was toxic as hell. Despite what teen movies and shows will tell you, in reality it’s super unlikely that a f*ckboy will change his ways, and constant screaming and fighting is not the same as passion in a relationship.
And, really, I’m not trying to ruin the fun of rom-coms, mainly because I’ll be spending the next few weeks of my life binging them. But, before you start thinking that if Lara Jean and Peter could make it work, maybe your douchebag booty call will finally step up, it’s important to face the facts.
When we watch movies that romanticize cheating, manipulation, and borderline emotional abuse, we are teaching people that it’s romantic and okay. Because of these movies, instead of seeing the guy that hooked up with another girl while you were supposed to be exclusive as the douchebag he is, we start thinking he needs to (and can) be fixed. And then, of course, we start dreaming of the future relationship we might have with him once we fix him, and at the very least, end up disappointed.
Listen, not every movie can be He’s Just Not That into You (which, despite the name, does not present the healthiest relationship dynamics). But in 2020, I’m kind of thinking we can do better to provide young girls with positive examples of healthy relationships.
Images: Bettina Strauss / Netflix; aftermovie, sierraburgessisaloserig, toalltheboysnetflix / Instagram
If you’re a person existing in the world today, then you likely have access to a Netflix account. Maybe you have your own personal account or maybe are using your ex-boyfriend’s cousin’s roommate’s dog’s account (I’m not here to judge). Either way, you’ve definitely heard people raving about these Netflix-exclusive movies: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Kissing Booth, and Sierra Burgess Is A Loser.
Now, there’s been a lot of hype around these movies, but let’s just say not all three deserve your precious time. But don’t worry, that’s what I’m here for—I’ve lost several hours of my life watching some of this low-budget sh*t, just so you don’t have to (I’m such a saint, I know). I’m going to give you a full rundown of these movies from best to worst. And yes, this article does have spoilers cause it’s like, a recap, so you should kind of expect that.
‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’
Okay, so this movie was EASILY my fave of the three, and totally worth the watch. Sure, it’s kinda cheesy, but all three of these movies were. This one was the least cheesy and the only one that didn’t actually give me cringe sweats. I’ll start by saying I was really feeling the Asian-led cast, which I feel like we never get to actually see in these basic teen chick flicks. Not to mention, we also had Aiden of Sex and The City fame playing the clueless widowed dad, so that was fun. And, sorry to bury the lede here, but every girl’s current heartthrob, Noah Centineo, plays hot/cool guy Peter Kavinsky .*Every girl gets instantly wet.* Peter Kavinsky is the love interest of our main character, Lara Jean, played by Lana Condor.
Now for the plot: Lara Jean is this shy “loser” who writes love letters to all the different crushes she has had throughout her life. She doesn’t actually send any of these letters (because she’s not like, fully psycho); she just stores them in a box in her room with the intention of never sending them. “Intention” being the key word there. Lara Jean’s little sister, Kitty, who is sick of Lara Jean being such a f*cking loser spending her Saturday nights watching Netflix (I’m being attacked), decides to just mail out all of these letters.
Apparently, Kitty’s objective in doing this was to help Lara Jean find a boyfriend. Kitty’s logic isn’t totally there. Sending sad handwritten diary-esque letters to all the boys she’s ever cried herself to sleep over warrants a restraining order, not a boyfriend. But of alas, it is a movie, so it somehow actually does grant Lara Jean her greatest wish.
Sh*t hits the fan real quick because turns out one of the addressed (I’m sorry LJ, but did you REALLY need to address these if they were intended for a box) letters end up in the hands of her older sister’s boyfriend. When said boyfriend starts to approach Lara Jean, she does the only thing logical to avoid him—make out with Peter Kavinsky. Same.
To avoid Lara Jean needing to confront her sister’s boyfriend (yikes) and Peter wanting to make his ex-girlfriend (and Lara Jean’s ex-best friend) jealous, they devised a plan to fake date. Lara Jean totally wins on this cause she gets free rides to school and a hot date for every school event she wants. Girl knows how to play her cards right.
To sum up the rest of the unimportant filler-drama, Lara Jean has her sex tape leaked (but is still a virgin?), she dumps Peter’s sorry ass because she senses his ex-girlfriend is behind it, and Peter Kavinsky comes crawling right back to her.
What I liked about this movie was that, when Lara Jean thought Peter was being a f*ckboy, she didn’t act like some pathetic girl who just believed every word that came out of his mouth. Instead, she stood up for herself. Good for you, Lara Jean—way to be the strong, self-controlled woman that the rest of us can’t. And like, since she wasn’t a desperate b*tch, she even ended up at the end of the movie with Peter telling her he loved her!
Yeah, see ladies, it’s all about knowing your f*cking worth. If you want that f*ckboy wrapped around your finger like a sad little puppy, then you, yourself, can’t be a helpless damsel in distress. Thanks for teaching us hoes a thing or two, Lara Jean.
‘The Kissing Booth’
Man, this one was hard to watch. I suggest grabbing a glass of wine (or eight) if you want any shot at getting through this. This was like, Hallmark movie-meets-Lifetime movie-meets-Disney-Channel movie level-cheesy. I watched this one with some friends, so between the ridiculousness of the movie and our commentary, this unbearably corny movie was somehow slightly tolerable.
Basically, the plot line here starts with two besties since birth, Elle and Lee. Lee has this hot older brother that she’s recently developed a crush on because like, puberty and hormones. I’d like to point out that hot is definitely relative here. In my opinion, the hot older brother, Noah Flynn, looks like a teen wolf quadruple the age of anyone else in this cast. But, to each their own.
Elle, played by Joey King, comes back to school for her junior year wearing an extremely short skirt with her uniform. She claims she’s wearing it because she hit puberty over the summer and didn’t seem to think that the ensuing whole body transformation would require bigger clothes. Like, this girl’s ass was legit hanging out to the point where this movie became borderline soft-core porn.
Elle and her inappropriate skirt garner the attention of legit the whole school and she instantly becomes a “hot” girl. Of course, this leads to Noah, Lee’s older brother, becoming extra protective of Elle. Elle, who is finally getting some male attention, gets annoyed that Noah’s overprotectiveness is constantly cock-blocking her. Kind of on Elle’s side here. Like, sis finally has a chance to get laid and now Noah is all up her biz. Not cool.
So then Elle and Lee decide to host a kissing booth as a school fundraiser. And, as predictable as it gets, Elle ends up kissing Noah via this kissing booth. Which, time out here, has anyone EVER actually seen a real-life kissing booth? Cause like, I’m pretty sure these are only a means of “fundraising” in movies… I’m not exactly sure what school would actually approve of a kissing booth. It’s like, a PG-13 version of prostitution…
Anyway, after Elle and Noah’s ~steamy~ kissing booth makeout, they naturally start dating. That’s right—they make out, and BAM, they start dating. If that was realistic I would’ve had like…never mind. There’s trouble in paradise, though! Elle and Lee have these stupid-ass “best friend” rules that they came up with when they were younger. The most important of them being that they can’t date each other’s siblings. And, seeing that Elle doesn’t even have siblings, Lee clearly came up with this rule because he knew his older brother was hotter than him. This means that Elle and Noah have to hide their relationship because it’s “against the rules.”
As predictable as it gets, Lee finds out, gets mad, yada-yada. They play an overly choreographed game of dance-dance revolution and are BFFs again. Elle and Noah end up together. But, unfortunately for DTF Elle, Noah leaves for college soon after (Harvard of all places! Stereotypical bad boy who’s a nerd at heart). When he leaves for college, I think they break up? It’s kinda unclear here, but the movie ends with Elle riding away on Noah’s motorcycle really feeling herself.
I think the lesson here was that if you embrace the hoe you are inside, you’ll get attention from the hottest guy in school, and even a free motorcycle!
‘Sierra Burgess Is A Loser’
Welp guys, looks like Barb (from Stranger Things) finally got her big break! Yes, it may be starring as the “loser” in this movie, but at least it beats being eaten by a Demogorgon while her supposed bestie loses her v card. Talk about a tragic ending #JusticeForBarb.
Don’t worry, Barb fans! She gets her justice, all right. This bitch gets to make out with Noah Centineo—twice! Although, I will say, his character in this movie is so pathetic that it turned me off to him completely.
Anyways, Barb’s character in this movie, Sierra, is a little less pathetic than Barb was. But only a litte less. Sierra is a high school “loser” but one with a hell of a lot of self-confidence. Of course, this self-confidence thing is short lived and instead, she becomes the all-time greatest catfish to ever live. This bitch puts Nev and Max to shame!
So one day, Jamey asks for this hot girl Veronica’s phone number. However, Veronica is not actually interested in him because he’s a “loser” since he has “loser friends.” Fair. So, Veronica gives Jamey Sierra’s phone number instead, but acts like it’s hers. Jamey sends Sierra a selfie and, even though she has no clue who he is or how he got her number, she recognizes he’s hot and just decides to chat him up anyway. As expected, these two really start to hit it off via text. By “hit it off” I mean they basically just send each other a bunch of weird animal memes back and forth (which is my preferred method of flirting). They also seem to think one another are just downright hysterical. Note, I did not laugh once during this movie.
Eventually, the catfishing gets out of hand. And I mean OUT OF HAND! Sierra convinces Veronica to go on dates with Jamey and, in exchange, Sierra tutors Veronica. So basically, Veronica goes on dates with the guy Sierra is OBSESSED with. Meanwhile, Sierra creeps around them, living vicariously through Veronica. I’m not really sure how Sierra actually thought this plan was eventually going to work out. As you guessed, everything blows up in Sierra’s face when Jamey actually kisses Veronica. Sierra gets mad jealous and goes batsh*t cray. Like, WTF did you expect Sierra?
Sierra has a psycho meltdown and embarrasses Veronica, and Sierra’s whole catfishing scheme is revealed. But, since it’s a movie, of course, Jamey eventually comes back around and decides to give Sierra a chance. You know, because he’s so into her “personality.” So much so that he even takes this catfishing snake to homecoming!
Like, I could see if they ended up becoming really good friends or something. But it makes no sense he would end up with her. ESPECIALLY after she played him so hard. Like, this guy must be so desperate for love. That, or maybe he just realized he had a strange fetish for redheads? IDK what angle they were going for here, but I wasn’t buying it.
This movie has also received a sh*t ton of backlash for making some lazy jokes that they thought would be quirky and cute but like this movie, are just not. I won’t go into it; I trust you all have Google.
To conclude, I’m pretty sure all of these movies had the same exact sets. Maybe with the unexplainable success of these movies, Netflix will have a little more to work with for the next one. If they do decide to create more, which they obvi will, I’ll take a lot more of Lana Condor and a little less Noah Centineo. That guy’s head is getting wayyy too big and someone needs to take away his social media accounts ASAP.
Images: Giphy (7);