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“To All The Boys: P.S I Still Love You” Presents A Realistic Perspective On Teenage Relationships

Based on the second novel in Jenny Han’s young adult “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” series, Netflix’s “To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” premiered on Feb. 12. The sequel stars Lana Condor and Noah Centineo as Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky as their love story faces a new challenge.  

In the first movie, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” Lara Jean’s (Condor) worst nightmare comes true when her younger sister Kitty (Anna Cathcart) secretly mails out soul-baring love letters written to all five boys she has fallen in love with. Kitty secretly mailed them out in hopes of helping her sister get a boyfriend. One of the lucky recipients was the most popular lacrosse player at her school, Peter Kavinsky. Together with Kavinsky, Lara Jean comes up with a plan to make other interests jealous. They then pretend to date, and of course, like any other romance movie of all time, they develop feelings for one another. By the end, they are in love and are dating for real.  

Photo courtesy of “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” via Twitter

“To All The Boys: P.S I Still Love You” begins with Lara Jean recreating the opening scene of the movie “Adventures and Babysitting,” as she sings “Babysitting Blues” to the mirror as if she were a woman living in the 80s, young and in love. The movie begins a few days before Valentine’s Day, a perfect reminder that she is happily coupled up with her boyfriend Peter. 

“People say fairy tales aren’t real, but sometimes happily ever after is for real,” she says when going on a date with Kavinsky.  

The “fairytale” however, takes a turn. Lara Jean receives a letter from her first love, John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher) who takes a larger role in this movie. Lara Jean is now presented with a dilemma. Will she pick her first love? Or will she resist her old habits of writing intimate love letters to a guy who is not her boyfriend?   

“P.S I Still Love Youfocuses on a less fairytale-like perspective of a relationship, as it presents the quest of Lara Jean getting over the fact that she is not “girlfriend material.” She lists predetermined characteristics on what makes someone worthy of dating, connecting back to the first movie when she did not find herself worthy enough to confess her love for her crushes, leading to her decision to keep the letters a secret. 

The cast of “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” at the premiere on February 4. Photo courtesy of “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” via Twitter

Lara Jean continuously compares herself to Kavinksy’s ex-girlfriend and her ex-best friend Gen (Emilija Baranac), as she points out that Gen has already experienced her first date, kiss and sexual experience with Kavinsky, causing Lara Jean to become insecure. Therefore, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” is more of a classic rom-com movie in which the jock of the school falls in love with the shy girl and they live happily ever after (or so they thought). “P.S I Still Love You” continues to show the good side of a relationship, but it also does not hide the contemporary insecurities and mixed love signals that young individuals may be experiencing today.      

Ultimately, the movie shifts away from the “perfect” romantic movies to realistic and “real-life” content for today’s youth. Romantic movies, including “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” present individuals with fairytale-like stories that do nothing but raise the hopes of others who believe that boys will all be fighting to win their hearts as if they were on the Bachelorette. 

“To All The Boys: P.S I Still Love You,” is one of the few realistic movies on Netflix that revolves around teenagers figuring out who they are as individuals and who they want to share romantic experiences with. Relationships aren’t as simple and sweet as some movies make them seem, and “To All The Boys: P.S I Still Love You” seems to capture this perfectly. By the end, Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky have realized that the ups and downs have only made their relationship stronger. Let’s see if they remember this lesson when the next movie comes out and the new hardships test the couple once again. 

Gitzel Carvajal is an Entertainment Intern for the 2020 winter quarter. She can be reached at gitzelc@uci.edu.