To All The Boys I've Loved Before is the teen hit Netflix needs right now

Crushing on Peter Kavinsky? Join the club.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
3 min read

Who needs a real boyfriend when you can have a fake one like Peter Kavinsky?

Peter Kavinsky writes you notes telling you how pretty you look today. Peter Kavinsky drives across town to pick up your favorite snack for senior ski trip. Peter Kavinsky is emotionally available -- he really listens when you talk and he tells you his secrets in return. Swoooon.

The internet went crazy for fake boyfriend of the year Peter Kavinsky this weekend after Netflix released the highly anticipated adaptation of the young adult novel To All The Boys I've Loved Before. Not only is the streaming platform serving up a long overdue 2018 rom-com resurgence with the movie, but it's giving the teen (and non-teen) girls of 2018 the kind of dreamy heartthrob they deserve.

And if you think Kavinsky, played by Noah Centineo, sounds cute, then even cuter still is his fake girlfriend and star of the movie, Lara Jean Covey, played by Lana Condor.

With her bookworm, fantasist tendencies, disinclination to attend parties and awkward encounters with crushes, Lara Jean is totally #relatable. Condor brings sweetness and gentleness and coolness and sassiness to the role of Lara Jean in totally the right ratio. Lara Jean is also Asian-American, which is important to note, because she nearly wasn't.

Jenny Han, author of To All The Boys, described in a New York Times op-ed piece last week attempts to whitewash the character of Lara Jean -- attempts that, thankfully for us, she resisted. "One producer said to me, as long as the actress captures the spirit of the character, age and race don't matter," said Han. "I said, well, her spirit is Asian-American."

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And so, Lara Jean is the inspiring young female Asian-American protagonist that Han envisaged in a week in which we are blessed with inspiring young Asian-American female on-screen protagonists thanks to the US release of Crazy Rich Asians. She is the teen queen other young girls will look up to, and Condor will be rightly celebrated for making her shine.

The buzz around the movie is also perfect timing for Netflix, which really needs a win when it comes to high-school genre originals. Earlier this month the company released Insatiable, a show about an overweight girl who becomes thin, which has been widely derided for its tone-deaf body shaming, among other troubling things.

Before Insatiable was season two of teen-suicide drama 13 Reasons Why, which was received with few kind words and several warnings from mental-health charities. Even The Kissing Booth -- another, less scandalous Netflix Original teen summer rom-com -- relied heavily on romping from the get-go for its pizazz.

In context, it seems extraordinary that Netflix released something as vanilla and PG and unproblematic as To All The Boys I've Loved Before. And yet it did, and it is the best, most delightful, most memorable of the lot.

It makes you question everything you think you know about the necessary ingredients to make a compelling and popular high-school drama. Forget sex, drugs, hazing and suicide. Clearly all you need is young love deftly portrayed with sizzling on-screen chemistry and cute family dynamics that make you long for sisters to snuggle up with on a Saturday night whether you have them IRL or not -- all illustrated with a bright and breezy teal-heavy color palette.


Sisterhood and teal -- a winning rom-com combo.


This isn't to overstate the impact To All The Boys I've Loved Before will likely have on the genre. It is more rom than com and it lacks the memorable zingers of classics like Clueless or Mean Girls. On the spectrum of human emotions it won't make you weep, neither will it make you lol, and it certainly won't make you rofl. But it will make you twinkly eyed and smiley, which in 2018 is something we could all use a little more of.

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