The End of Netflix “Summer of Love,” But The Return of Teen Rom-Coms
With the success of Crazy Rich Asians (which has already announced a sequel in the works), representation of Asian Americans continues to rise as the Netflix 0riginal movie To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was released on August 17th—two days after Crazy Rich Asians released in theaters. The movie is adapted from the teen novel written by Jenny Han that was written in 2014, and was a bestseller.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before has been receiving praise and recognition for featuring an Asian-American protagonists in a teen romcom. However, aside from any praise or criticisms in the casting for the movie, this Netflix original includes some nods to popular classic teen rom-coms in the John Hughes’ era.
With the release of Love, Simon earlier this year, the teen romcom genre seems to have flourished once more. Teen movies are shifting focus from the darker and troubling aspects of youth (13 Reasons Why, Riverdale, etc.) to the more lighthearted and fun perspective of budding teen romances. Netflix this year has released five original romantic comedies: Set It Up, Us and Them, Like Father, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and now To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Another romantic comedy will be released on September 7th called Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, starring Shannon Purser (Stranger Things) and Noah Centineo (To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved). The influx of romantic comedies this summer has resurged the category of “Summer of Love” on the streaming site.
In her upcoming movie, Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, Shannon Purser expresses that it “reminds me of John Hughes movies” and that the lighthearted romcom genre is resurfacing on Netflix. She states: “We have a lot of very dark, well-made television and movies, but I think teenagers are kind of neglected. I think we could all use a bit more light in our lives.” Purser, who grew up watching Hunger Games and Harry Potter movies, “didn’t have those lighthearted, wholesome teen movies.”
The director of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Susan Johnson, brings in references from the classic romantic comedies of the 1980s and of John Hughes’ films. Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor), the protagonist of the movie, references Sixteen Candles and even makes her then fake boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), watch it with her, and even allows him to put his hand in her back pocket as another nod to the classic romcom.
At the end of To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved, Lara Jean kisses her now real boyfriend Peter Kavinsky in the middle of the field as the camera slowly zooms out to an ultra-wide shot of the field. This was a definite reference to the iconic end of The Breakfast Club with Judd Nelson’s fist pump in the air in the middle of the field. Susan Johnson confesses to IndieWire that she grew up with John Hughes and is a fan of his movies. Johnson’s decision with the ending scene at the football field was inspired by the ending of The Breakfast Club and she states: “Behind the camera, I was like, ‘Come on, Judd Nelson. We’re doing this for you.”
Netflix has been churning out more original content, as 85% of spending is going to original content according to Ted Sarandos. By the end of 2018, “Netflix will have around 1,000 originals total,” and during the summer it showered viewers with rom-coms. Although, most teen movies are still meddling in the fantasy and dystopian genre (with The Darkest Minds, Maze Runner, etc.) of teen romcom and coming-of-age stories that are influenced by John Hughes’ classic teen movies, and are slowly making their way back…mainly on Netflix.