Unless you have quite literally been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the groundbreaking Netflix film To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. The movie, and its cast, have been talked about almost to death for the past few weeks. As a member of the current phone-obsessed generation, and curious about the sudden Noah Centineo pictures popping up on my feed, I decided to check the film out.
To All The Boys thankfully lived up to the hype (which is more than what can be said about some other films; looking at you, Sierra Burgess.) It’s about an Asian-American girl (Lara Jean Covey) who writes five letters to each of her crushes, which unfortunately (or providentially) are accidentally-on-purpose sent out to them by her sister. She ends up having to fake a relationship with former crush Peter Kavinsky, and long story short, they end up together by the end of the film.
Even though the plot of the movie was pretty good for a rom-com, it quickly climbed to fame for another, more impactful reason; the casting of its main characters.
The casting of an Asian lead is a very rare occurrence for Hollywood, which has repeatedly displayed its preference for white or white-passing couples. But the thing I like most about the film is that Lara Jean’s ethnicity is in no way made a focus of the film or even a plot point.
The fact that she is of Asian descent is just a backdrop to the film itself, which makes it a valuable contribution to Asian-American representation in the media.
The advent of Lara Jean marks a new age of more representation in Hollywood for people of colour. 2018 was the year of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians - both hugely popular box-office hits with people of colour in the lead roles- and this proves that the market for such films is just as large as, if not larger, than the market for other types of films.
The release of these movies was followed by a spate of other, more diverse, movies being green-lighted; for instance, a movie about a Hawaiian family à la Lilo and Stitch is set for release in two years.