The internet loves to hate. From Riverdale to The Kissing Booth, the hate-watching (AKA watching media solely for the fun of making fun of it) trend seems to have taken hold on Gen Z. And if there’s one platform that’s proving to be an expert at producing content for this morbid fascination of ours, it’s Netflix. The most recent Netflix hate watch to sweep the internet? He’s All That.
Back when the first He’s All That trailer was released, it was clear that the internet had some strong opinions on TikTok megastar Addison Rae’s acting debut. “This looks objectively fucking terrible. Which means *everyone* is going to watch it and it’s going to be number 1,” Jameela Jamil succinctly predicted on twitter. After the film’s release on August 27, 2021, the reactions kept pouring in; the production mistakes (as evidenced with Rae’s disappearing hand and invisible flyers) were glaringly obvious, and overall the movie just wasn’t giving us what it thought it was. After its debut got fans (and haters) talking, Addison Rae signed a multi picture deal with Netflix, meaning we can expect to see a lot more of her in the platform’s future (though the exact number of roles in the deal has yet to be released by Netflix).
While a majority of people jumped to conclusions about the She’s All That update following the first trailer release, I was hesitant to join them. Sure, it’s Rae’s first experience as an actress, but it’s a Netflix romcom, not a Steven Speilberg film. The fact that she’s widely criticized for rising to fame on TikTok arguably reflects society’s fascination with belittling things that young people – especially women – enjoy. With millions of followers, you can’t say Rae isn’t good at what she does. Plus, her character in He’s All That is an influencer, so the casting choice wasn’t completely out of the blue. Hate-watchers or not, Rae drew in a sizable audience for her debut role.
Still, the multi-picture deal parallels a larger problem with Netflix. The company has a famous habit of cancelling shows with diverse representation when it comes to ethnicities, identities, and representation (i.e. The Society), while renewing and promoting movies and shows with straight white characters (namely, The Kissing Booth and Outer Banks).
Lana Condor, star of Netflix’s 2018 romcom To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – plus its two sequels – has an extensive resume. From Deadly Class to X Men: Apocalypse, the starlet has flexed her acting muscles for years. On top of that, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is typically accepted as an objectively good film. Condor’s bubbly demeanor and genuine personality drew fans in and, as a fan of the books since 2014, I can confidently say she’s the perfect Lara Jean. Lara Jean is half Korean, half white (Condor herself is Vietnamese-American), which provided so many people watching with the representation they deserve, yet lack. The film also was dubbed one of Netflix’s “most viewed original films ever with strong repeat viewing.” And yet, Condor wasn’t offered a multi-picture deal.
The fact that He’s All That is Rae’s acting debut coupled with its terrible reviews suggests that Netflix cares more about streams than the stories they give platforms to, even though those stories have proven their streaming power, too. So let’s stop the hate-watching, and send the message that we want more substantial and inclusive stories on our screens.