Empowerment, Boundary Setting, and Consent in Pop Culture, Part 4 - P.S. I Still Love You
There have been very valid arguments that the romantic comedy is dead.
Makes sense to me. Personally, I could live without seeing another teenage boy stand outside a girl's bedroom window with a boombox over his head.
But in August 2019, Refinery 29 predicted that Netflix was creating "Rom-Com Renaissance."
Which brings us to our fourth example of consent, empowerment, and boundary setting in pop culture.
What separates the Netflix hits To All The Boys I've Loved Before and its sequel To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, two movies aimed at teens, from other movies in its genre?
According to this article from PopMatters:
"To All the Boys I've Loved Before troubles the genre of the romantic comedy in other significant ways, too, most notably through the portrayal of the heroine and hero. While her sister's actions seem to imply that Lara Jean is not a character in charge of her own fate, Lara Jean is very much a romantic comedy heroine with agency, and Peter is a hero with respect for the heroine, particularly in regard to her sexual boundaries. Writing these lead characters as such, Han and Johnson have produced a romantic heroine and a hero who better reflect the values of the #MeToo movement."
Lara Jean is very much a romantic comedy heroine with agency, and Peter is a hero with respect for the heroine, particularly in regard to her sexual boundaries.
Yes. And this holds true throughout both movies.
What we can learn from this:
Portrayals of consent don't have to hit you over the head like they're part of an after school special from the 80's. Nor do they need to portray the hero as having bad intentions and the heroine as being helpless and unable to speak up.
The conversation between Lara Jean and Peter is just.... normal.
And that's exactly what Jenny Han, the author of the books the movies are based on, was going for:
"The fact that they're in communication with each other, and saying what they do or don't want to do is the important part. The conversation around consent is really important, and having it be a continual conversation is essential."
The conversation around consent is really important, and having it be a continual conversation is essential.
Lara Jean is sweet and reserved. But she is completely capable of holding her own and is not swayed by what her friends, family members, or boyfriend think she should do. She listens to her intuition and doesn't hesitate to speak up.
What a solid message for teens. And everyone else.
And how refreshing is it that the resolution of any problems the couple might have doesn't come from a grand gesture?
What I might change:
Honestly? Not much. But I do wish more of the the people around her recongized her strength.
Then again, that is a reflection of how life works. Let's work on changing that by seeing more characters like Lara Jean.
What are your favorite examples of consent in romantic comedies?
< Part 3 - One Day At A Time | Part 4 - Meghan Trainor's "NO" >