Someone Great is redefining the rom-com by focusing on female friendships
We love romantic comedies, but we don’t love that they all build up to one moment: Will the guy and the girl get together? Snore. Fortunately, we’re in a new era of rom-coms. One where women rely on their girlfriends more than their boyfriends, pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors, and prioritize themselves over men. If that sounds like your type of rom-com, clear your schedule and make time to watch Someone Great, which hits Netflix on Friday, April 19th.
Someone Great stars Gina Rodriguez as Jenny, an almost-30-something fresh off a breakup with Nate (Lakeith Stanfield), her serious boyfriend of the last nine years. She’s about to move to San Francisco for a job at Rolling Stone, but she wants to spend one more epic day with her two BFFs, Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow). The movie is filled with flashbacks that show the highs and lows of Jenny and Nate’s relationship. But rather than rooting for them to get back together in the end, you’ll find yourself cheering for the woman Jenny knows she can be on her own. Well, not entirely on her own—with her besties by her side.
We spoke with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, the writer and director of Someone Great, about how she’s redefining the “rom” part of the rom-com by focusing on female friendships.
HelloGiggles: I watched Someone Great last night and cried my face off.
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson: I don’t want to say “good,” but…good!
HG: You tweeted: “I always wanted to see a romantic comedy where a woman chooses herself. So I made one.”
JKR: We grew up on these rom-coms that teach women that it’s the next romantic relationship, the next man, that’s gonna keep you going and make you feel whole. And I just don’t subscribe to that, especially as I’ve come into my own as a woman. I turned 30 last year and I was like, “You know what? Jerry Maguire got it wrong. A man doesn’t complete you; you complete you.” That doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing man or woman or gender non-binary person by your side in life. But I really wanted to make a romantic comedy that was rooted in self-love, and about choosing yourself.
HG: I think it’s the first rom-com I watched where I didn’t want them to get together.
JKR: Good! Yes! I still give you the taste of what [a rom-com] is; you still want to feel it. But I really wanted to give the realistic version of what the end of a relationship is. Especially when that relationship ends not because there was cheating or malice or anything bad, but just because you grow up and you start down different paths and love sometimes isn’t enough to keep two people together. That’s the most heartbreaking version of a breakup.
HG: Someone Great was rewarding to watch because it shows what female friendships are actually like. We call our friends bitches when they’re being bitches and we hold them accountable when they deserve better.
JKR: I wanted to highlight that it’s not about them being adversarial. You can be mad at your best friend, but it’s always from a place of love. Gina, DeWanda, Brittany, and I have such an amazing, strong bond, and the characters have such a strong bond in the script. For me, it was about putting this friendship and this sisterhood on screen and saying, “It’s not always going to be perfect, and it’s not always going to be rainbows and sunshine, but it’s always, always, always rooted in that really deep place of love and sisterhood.
HG: Did Gina, DeWanda, and Brittany immediately click?
JKR: They immediately clicked. Gina and DeWanda went to NYU together, so that’s a very meta infusion into the movie. They were the only two women of color in their acting school at NYU. They had a very strong bond and have known each other for 10 years. Brittany and I have known each other since we were 18 years old, so we have 10+ years of friendship as well. We all came into this having our different relationships, but right before we started shooting, the four of us went to brunch together. And it was in that outing that I was like, “Oh, this movie is not only going to be the most rewarding experience of my life, but it’s magic.” It honestly felt like lightning-in-a-bottle magic. Casting the three of them—they fit so perfectly and so seamlessly and disappear into each of these characters in such an amazing way that it’s hard to say why it happened. I couldn’t see anyone else as Jenny, Erin, or Blair. There just is no one else that could have possibly worn these characters.
HG: The movie is very diverse and reflective of the world in terms of race, gender, and sexuality. Was representation important to you?
JKR: Not only the world, but this is New York City. It’s the most diverse place on the planet. It was such a no-brainer to me to make sure that this movie reflected the audience it was for. For a very long time, we’ve seen a lot of movies that have a narrow view and lens, and that are representing a very specific type [of person], whether it’s race, gender, or sexuality. I wanted this movie to reflect all the people that it’s for and to have it feel very inclusive, but without it feeling like a political statement. It’s just a movie about love and friendship, and we happened to be able to cast really, really incredible people who are diverse and who make this movie feel correct and inclusive and wonderful.
HG: Like I said, I cried buckets watching it. But I think that’s a compliment to you! Are you getting that reaction a lot?
JKR: Yeah. It’s been really exciting to share this film and have women and men feel really seen by it. They seem to gravitate toward it in a really real way. What’s so exciting is while it’s nothing new—there’s nothing about this movie that’s groundbreaking or revolutionary or hasn’t been done before—it feels fresh and exciting and like a discovery within the genre. That’s been really exciting—to be able to talk to people who have seen the movie and hear about their connection to it. That’s what it’s all about. There are things I cut out that I would have loved [to include], but I didn’t make it for me. I made it for the world, and I really made it for women. To have so many women come up to me and tell me that this movie meant something to them—whether it’s through the romantic part, the female friendship, Erin’s queer storyline, the way Jenny chooses herself, or the way Blair lets her hair down and decides she’s going to disrupt the path she thought she wanted to be on—it’s been a really, really incredible experience, and I absolutely love it.
HG: Netflix is definitely bringing back the rom-com. Someone Great is a rom-com, but it’s almost its own sub-genre, like a platonic love-com.
JKR: The most lasting, meaningful, loving relationships of my twenties are with my female friends. That’s not to say the men in my life haven’t impacted me or been part of my growth and my journey, but those women—that’s the love. That’s the Day One, ride-or-die, deep, deep shit right there.
HG: It’s refreshing that Jenny’s romantic relationship with Nate isn’t the main point. Because if this were a traditional rom-com, it would be.
JKR: I always say that the “rom” isn’t “com” in this movie. I really wanted to show and highlight a relationship through the lens of Jenny. That was always important to me. What you’re seeing in this film is extremely subjective. It’s Jenny’s memories; it’s how Jenny feels about Nate and how Jenny feels about herself. It’s really rooted in the female lens in a way that I don’t think we’ve seen before in this genre, and that was really exciting for me to put on screen.
HG: Earlier you said there are some things you wish you could have included. Is there anything you wish had made the final cut that didn’t?
JKR: There were a lot more flashbacks with Gina and Lakeith. But as they shook out, there were certain scenes that didn’t feel necessary in the plot or to the story, but that I loved. One of those scenes is, after Gina remembers the NYU flashback—that first flashback—there’s a scene we took out where she goes in her room and takes a moment to herself, and looks at her bed, and she sees Lakeith’s sneakers on the floor and remembers a time when Nate came in in the morning and gave her kisses after he went on a run. And it comes back to Gina and she’s welling up, and then it goes back to the bed, and you see a sour memory. You see the things you process and go through and pick apart and remember and feel about a relationship once it’s ended.
We have so many beautiful moments that we didn’t need too many. If you overpopulate, then you take away from the importance of keeping it streamlined and beautiful and on-story. That for me was finding the balance of the right number of flashbacks where you understand and feel like you get who these people are and you get this relationship, without it feeling like you’re being shown too much that it’s taking away from the day with the three girls. Because really, that’s the core of the movie.
HG: Oh, and I have to mention that the music is so good. It’s the soundtrack to my life now.
JKR: It’s on Spotify! I wanted [the songs] to be markers. I wanted them to feel like a place in time and give you a sense of where you were in the movie.
HG: Vampire Weekend felt like a personal attack, though.
JKR: I’m so sorry. It’s a personal attack for me as well.
Someone Great arrives on Netflix on Friday, April 19th.