We live in the prime time of teen romantic comedies. Netflix has capitalized on its young adult audience and has made movies that tug on our heartstrings. Who doesn’t want their own Peter Kavinski or Noah Flynn? But these movies always end with the guy and the girl finally being together and happy. The problem is that studios don’t make money on a clean, happy ending, so they have a sequel. That leads to an additional problem. All of these sequels have the same plot: some fight or problem breaks up the main couple and then a new love interest comes in and tries to steal away the girl.
There are three main rom-coms that follow this formula: "To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before," "The Kissing Booth" and "After." In the sequels to these movies, the boys either get caught lying or get in fights with their girlfriends. This leads the girls into the arms of another man. Just as you think they’re going to end up with the other guy, they forgive everything and end up back with their original boyfriends.
The girls always end back up with their toxic boyfriends instead of with the guy that is better for them. In “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” Peter lies to Lara Jean and gets caught hanging out with his ex-girlfriend. Any girl would be mad about that. John Ambrose, the sequel's love interest, is such a better match for Lara Jean. Yet, Lara Jean ditches John Ambrose and goes back to Peter like nothing happened. In “The Kissing Booth,” Elle finds another girl’s earring under Noah’s bed, and once confronted, he acts like it’s nothing and makes her seem like the bad guy. Then there’s Marco, who helps Elle win money for school without anything in return. Noah has an inappropriate relationship with a friend and drives Elle away, but he gets mad at her. How is that fair to Elle? In “After,” the main characters' whole relationship is based on a bet. Hardin sleeps with Tessa even though she’s drunk and he knows she’ll be mad about it the next day. They go back and forth being together and sleeping together despite Tessa's anger at him for lying. However, Trevor, the other man, actually stands up for Tessa and sees how toxic Hardin is.
The problem with these sequels is that there’s no point to them. Why introduce a new love interest just for the main couple to get back together? How can we root for these couples when they're so toxic? These movies are teaching girls to fall for the toxic guy instead of going with the guy that truly cares about them. Most likely, the third movie in these series will follow the same pattern, and it will be an endless loop of the same question - Will they get a happy ending or not?