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Sex + Relationships

Netflix’s Influence on Young Girls’ Perceptions of Love and Relationships



After I watched “Bird Box” for the first and final time of my life, I was in need of a light-hearted storyline. So I watched some movies that were more up my alley, which is pretty anything that has to do with love and romance. Cue the sap music.

Staying in the Netflix original realm, I decided to choose the movies I had been hearing people talk about. One of those movies included “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” which one of our writers recently reviewed. Contrary to the title, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it. But once I watched it, there were so many parts of myself that I saw in Lara Jean that I could have sworn the movie was based on my teenage “love” life. There was another movie that was always on my Netflix homepage, “The Kissing Booth.” Netflix was definitely spot on with their algorithm on me because this one also reminds me of things I would be (or maybe already am) guilty of doing when it comes to love.

I came to realize that these movies were the new coming-of-age movies for the current generation (please excuse my mistake in the movie title for “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” in the following tweet):

I grew up on movies like “Pretty In Pink” and “The Sleepover”. Although the movies then and the movies now are sort of similar in storylines, these Netflix originals are giving girls, teenagers, and young adults, in general, a more realistic approach to love and relationships. These were the three things I took away from watching these movies:

  1. These films encourage girls to go for what they want and who they want, even though they will not necessarily get a happy ending.

This was especially prevalent in “The Kissing Booth”. Elle won over the most desired guy at her school even though she wasn’t the most popular or most desired girl herself. Noah was the high school senior; an oh-so-dreamy jock that almost every girl wanted. At the end of the movie when Noah leaves for college, he seems to have a very distant connection once he steps out of Elle’s sight in the airport, even though they became especially close throughout the movie. From Elle’s point-of-view, it seems like their relationship (or “situationship”) will not be continuing. Get the popular guy (or girl) if you want, but most of the personalities of these kinds of people are all the same–once they get what they want, they will most likely leave without question. Take it from someone who has experienced it. *Inserts a “Who hurt you? gif.* But in all seriousness, it is refreshing to know that teenagers who are watching won’t have a false perception of entering a relationship and finding everything to be smooth sailing. Be bold and brave for your own sake, and not for a fairytale outcome. And most importantly, have fun dating!

(Image via Giphy)

  1. These films were more open about sex in dating and relationships.

This point has to consider the fact that almost anything related to sex can be on TV now. Although there was a recent study published explaining that fewer teens are having sex, I still think it is important to reveal all parts of a romantic relationship. The one criticism I have about this point is that I would have definitely appreciated some pointers on safe sex in relationships.

  1. These movies show boys as more vulnerable characters.

Although it is based on a book, I know vulnerable males don’t only exist in literature. “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” gave me the most inspiration for this point. There was one particular scene where Josh says to Lara Jean, “You gotta tell people how you feel when you feel it. You can’t just sit up in your room writing love letters that you’re never gonna send out.” It was hard to believe advice like this came from a male character! I mean, a male? With emotional intelligence? Where are those? Where can I find one? Though again, getting back to my point, both movies, even with female leads, put a spotlight on feelings from the guys showing that they too can be just as vulnerable as the female characters allowed themselves to be. Guys can be so much better than the macho man that most of them try to grow up to be.

What do you think of these Netflix originals and their takes on young adult relationships? I’d love to hear your input. Find me on Twitter by tapping on my handle below and let’s chat!

MeaResea is an alumna of Agnes Scott College where she majored in Economics and minored in Spanish. She recharted the HCASC chapter in the fall semester of 2016. She served as the Editor-in-Chief and President of Her Campus at Agnes Scott. Her favorite quote and words that she lives by are, "She believed she could, so she did." -Unknown http://meareseahomer.agnesscott.org/
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