Pride month starts tomorrow! But today, we’re all about Netflix’s newest rom-com, Always Be My Maybe. Starring and co-written by Ali Wong and Randall Park, the flick follows estranged pals Marcus and Sasha; besties as kids, they have a falling out after awkward (consensual) sex in the back seat of Marcus’s car throws their friendship off balance.
Cut to a decade and a half later. Sasha is a big-name celebrity chef, back in town to open a new restaurant, while Marcus stayed put in the Bay area, working for his dad’s A/C business and cutting loose with his band Hello Peril in his free time. When Sasha’s business partner Veronica (also a childhood friend of both) hires Marcus and his dad to fix the A/C in Sasha’s temporary rental, there’s an awkward reunion; but gradually, the rhythms of their past friendship return.
I’m pretty sure you can guess how the rest goes, but the fun of this movie is how they get there and the jokes along the way. In particular I love that the central romantic conflict doesn’t revolve around Marcus resenting Sasha’s success, or Marcus’ band suddenly becoming an overnight sensation so that they’re both equally famous. He’s happy for her success, and in the end (SPOILER!), happy to be Sasha’s plus-one purse holder at big formal events.
I didn’t even notice this until a critic on a podcast pointed it out, but another point in the movie’s favour is that not only are Asian-Americans the majority of the main characters, but POC in general occupy the vast majority of screen time. That’s a very refreshing departure from the typical, Hallmark-style rom-com. (With a special shout-out for Keanu Reeves’ standout cameo, playing against type as the douche-iest of Hollywood phonies.)
I also love that there’s a lesbian couple in Marcus and Sasha’s lives: Veronica is very pregnant at the start of the movie, and by the end she’s given birth and she and her partner Denise are parents. Like a lot of the pop culture I’ve reviewed here lately, none of this is treated as a particularly big deal by anyone; it’s just a fact.
Having grown up in a pop culture landscape where gay or queer characters, if they were included at all, were either flamboyantly out or tragically closeted, I’m so glad our kids get to experience pop culture nowadays where being gay, queer, or whatever is just one facet of a person, and not a subject for drama.
But it IS a subject for pride, so… Happy Pride! However you celebrate, I hope you also make time for some pop culture with positive LGBTQQIA2S representation!