Why We Need More Stories Like “Someone Great”
The death of the romantic comedy has been speculated over the past couple of years, but Netflix has taken it upon itself to revive the genre, with “Set It Up,” “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “The Perfect Date,” and now “Someone Great.” What sets “Someone Great” apart from the rest of these Netflix rom-coms is the fact that at the end, the heroine doesn’t get the guy. And it’s not the end of the world! Which is refreshingly honest, and relevant to the mindset of most Millennial women today, in the sense that we don’t treat romantic love like our only salvation.
The story arc is (admirably) somewhat similar to that of “Legally Blonde.” We’re introduced to the main female character through means of a breakup that left them blindsided and devastated. In the beginning, they’re pining, going over what could have went wrong during the course of the relationship. In Elle’s case, she thought she had to change who she was in order to be with Warner, and was Harvard-bound within the first forty-five minutes of the film. In Jenny (Gina Rodriguez)’s case, she landed her dream job as a writer for Rolling Stone, which requires her to leave New York and the life she’s had there since she was in her early twenties. She’s shocked when her boyfriend of nine years, Nate (Lakeith Stanfield) doesn’t want to keep their relationship going. Over time, both women realize they’re not going to get their men back, but they gain something much more important—a stronger sense of self.
While “Someone Great” falls under the subgenre of the “one last wild night,” and has its syrupy and at times reality-hindering moments (including drinking and drug-fueled dance parties, getting-ready-montages and heart-to-hearts and office sex set to the backdrop of New York City), it still hits close to home for anyone who’s watching. It touches on the importance of female friendship, letting go, being fearful of change and later being open to it. And most importantly, it’s a female-centric narrative with a diverse set of voices, something that we need more of. Rather than place all the focus on Jenny’s journey through heartbreak, the film also sheds light on her longtime friends and fellow NYU grads Blair (Britney Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise) and their personal conflicts. Erin is commitment-phobic and is scared of putting a label on her relationship with the woman she’s been seeing for a few months. On the other hand, Blair is bored in her long-term relationship but is putting off ending it because she wants to be married by the time she’s thirty and doesn’t want to jeopardize the trajectory of her life plan. Besides not letting each other get away with anything, what these three women have in common is being reluctant to face something that can (and will) end up being good for them in the long run, even if it means letting go of what they’ve been familiar with for so long.
One scene in particular in “Someone Great” that I found moving and well-done appears in the last twenty minutes of the film, when Blair and Erin lose Jenny at the concert they spent the whole film getting ready for, and are trying to get ahold of her. Blair confronts Erin when she criticizes Jenny for not growing up when it comes to getting over Nate. The conversation was full of so much raw emotion and was probably one of the most relatable parts of the movie for me specifically.
Blair says “Erin, you’re holding onto something that’s already gone. Do you think you’re going to be young forever?” And the inevitable question appears at the end of her rant: “What are you so afraid of?”
Erin finally breaks and says “Everything! If I grow up it means I have to change everything.”
What also carries “Someone Great” is its soundtrack. We get the post-mortem flashback of Jenny and Nate filled with texts and playlist-making and Instagram posts set to “Supercut” by Lorde, a dramatic cut to Lizzo’s opening line of “Truth Hurts” — Why men great til they gotta be great? while Jenny and Erin sing along and make mimosas to Band-Aid Jenny’s heart. Vampire Weekend makes a nostalgic appearance with “Mansard Roof” at an early-2010s college party where Jenny and Nate meet when Jenny sees her musician fuckboy crush show up with another girl.
Among its many notable qualities, what I enjoyed most about “Someone Great,” though, was that each woman in the film got a happy ending, although not in the way they had hoped or expected. Jenny goes to “finish” her relationship with Nate by writing a poignant entry in her journal on the subway (this shot of Rodriguez writing on public transportation is reminiscent of the early seasons of “Jane the Virgin” when Jane would pull out her journal on the bus, and made me smile) and visiting the fountain in Washington Square Park that was her and Nate’s “spot” throughout their time together. Jenny falls asleep and dreams that Nate meets her there and confesses how badly he screwed up by breaking up with her. But of course, it’s only a dream, meaning that something or someone that was present for so long isn’t always what’s best for us. Blair goes with Erin to tell her girlfriend that she loves her and wants to be with her, and earlier in the film, Blair breaks up with her boyfriend, freeing herself from the idea of what she thought her life should be.
My longtime friend, Sophie, who I met in sixth grade in New Jersey came to visit me in Cleveland for the first time last weekend. I loved showing her my life here, and we went out with Arbela the first night she got here and FaceTimed with Carla (who was out of town). I more or less credit my growth and everything else associated in the past decade or so of my life to these three women, who I met at different times, and who have stuck around through the ebb and flow. While I’ve always known this, this past weekend made me realize how important they are and always will be to me, and how yes, I may be single right now, and haven’t had the best of luck with guys in my twenties, but their friendship prevails any kind of romantic relationship I’ll have in the future. Maybe it was the shots. Maybe it was the karaoke. Maybe it was the feeling of a night well spent, just like Jenny, Blair, and Erin’s.
But it was enough.