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Guilty Pleasures: Netflix Rom-Coms

By Fiona O'Reilly

Young love, unexpected plot twists and dramatic heartbreak are all aspects of television shows and movies that attract young viewers. In recent years, Netflix and other streaming platforms have used these tactics in a slew of works that have swept young viewers by storm. Shows and movies including “The Kissing Booth,” “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Never Have I Ever” are examples of these types of works, commonly called rom-coms, which use light-hearted love to appeal to young viewers.

I would argue that “The Kissing Booth,” released in July of 2018, was the start of this newfound era of streaming service rom-coms, but at just the age of 12, I was most swept off my feet by the dramatic romance of Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky, as displayed by “To All The Boys I Loved Before.” Throughout the other two movies in the series, Lara Jean and Peter’s difficult but sought-after love grasped the attention of young teenagers around the world, as the unrealistic and delusional love life of main character Lara Jean Covey was condensed into a light-hearted three-movie series available on Netflix. A few weeks ago, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” released a sequel series called “XO, Kitty” consisting of ten episodes. Though I’ve only seen the first few episodes, the series is drama-filled; the plot starts off unrealistically with main character Kitty being sent off to South Korea to chase her boyfriend on a total whim. This display of an outlandish plot and immature depiction of love has made me excited for future episodes.

Source by Shadia Zayer

Many teenage viewers feel that Netflix films often portray typical tropes in the romance genre.

Tagging along to Netflix’s trend, other streaming platforms have created their own series that follow the same typical young-love story line. An example of this is “The Summer I Turned Pretty” on HBO Max, which is a spinoff of the book series by author Jenny Han, the same author who wrote the books which inspired the movie “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.” In this series made popular by its beloved soundtrack, main character Isabella, called “Belly” by her friends and family, balances the center of a complicated love triangle between her childhood crush and another close family friend, who happens to be his brother.

Undeniably, shows such as these are based on naive teenage delusion, but I don’t feel that this is a negative thing, rather a reflection of show writers and producers understanding what is popular. While “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and other similar coming of age rom-coms may never go down as classics or display realistic and mature examples of love, it does appeal greatly to its audience. Teenage girls around the world love to invest in dramatic yet light-hearted love stories and know that they will be entertained and kept on the edge of their seats, but still receive a happy ending.

With the second season of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” coming this summer and spinoff “Xo, Kitty,” released in May as a sequel to “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” I am excited to dive into the captivating series once again for more summer fun and entertaining young love.

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