We’re Here for Netflix’s Queer Teen Rom-Com The Half of It
Give us all the queer romantic comedies please and thank you.
If you liked To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Love, Simon, chances are you’ll want to tune into Netflix’s latest teen romantic comedy, The Half of It. The film, which takes inspiration from the classic Cyrano de Bergerac, follows shy teen Ellie Chu (Nancy Drew‘s Leah Lewis) who earns extra cash writing essays for her classmates in the small town of Squahamish.
Ellie’s life changes when popular jock Paul (Daniel Diemer) recruits her to write love letters to his crush Aster (Alexxis Lemire). But the plot thickens when Ellie realizes that she’s crushing on Aster as well. The film is written and directed by Alice Wu, whose first film Saving Face is easily one of the best queer rom-coms of the 2000s (and one of the few Asian-American queer rom-coms at that). Seriously, if you haven’t seen Saving Face, stop what you’re doing and get into it.
And while the film is being billed as a rom-com, the emphasis seems to be on the friendship between Ellie and Paul. While the “straight girl/gay guy” friendship has been explored in series and films from Will & Grace to G.B.F., we rarely see the same camaraderie between straight dudes and queer women. If this film kicks off the gay girl/straight boy buddy comedy, then I am all over it.
This film was set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, which has since been canceled due to the pandemic. But Wu is excited that the film found a home at Netflix, where teens and their parents have the opportunity to watch it together and maybe foster some dialogue. Wu said, “I realized, I really was hoping that maybe someone, like a kid or a parent or someone who maybe lives in a more conservative town, might watch this, … And it might make them think about that one kid that everyone pokes fun at because maybe he’s gay, or maybe that one immigrant family in town. And I thought, ‘Well, I really want that person to see it.’ And I realized that person’s never going to a Landmark theater. But in the privacy of their own home, they might press play on Netflix.”
Wu also talked about the expansive nature of love, which is important for films centered on teen girls. While the majority of these films are built around a romance, there are plenty more stories to tell. Wu says, “What it turns out to be about is recognizing that there are so many different ways to love, and some of them are romantic and some of them are platonic and some of them are familial, … Part of the joy is that you can go on that journey looking for your other half, but the point isn’t the finding, the point is that journey will help you learn more about yourself.”
The Half of It lands on Netflix on May 1st.
(via Entertainment Weekly, image: KC Bailey/Netflix)
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