Why you'll fall for Netflix's 'Set It Up,' a refreshingly modern TV rom-com
Spoiler alert: This post contains plot details of Netflix's original movie "Set It Up."
Most made-for-TV movies about romance offer satisfyingly predictable happy endings and elements that rarely venture outside of the heart-shaped storylines. While characters in Netflix's "Set It Up" find love while trying to set up their bosses, the movie (streaming now) offers moments that seem more grounded in reality.
Twentysomething assistants Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) work long hours at the demand of their unreasonable bosses Kirsten (Lucy Liu), a renowned journalist, and Rick (Taye Diggs), an investment exec. How unreasonable, exactly? Kirsten asks Harper to wake her from naps by slowly increasing the volume of a lullaby. Needless to say, Harper and Charlie need a break from their bosses with "Devil Wears Prada" demeanors and decide to trick the head honchos into a relationship to get their own lives back.
But Harper and Charlie are far from your typical rom-com characters.
Showcasing a sense of her depth and awareness, Harper comically addresses Charlie's privilege while the two argue over paying for takeout to feed their irrational leaders. "Look at you," Harper says, assuring Charlie he won't be fired if he doesn't deliver dinner. "You'll just swoop in with your lacrosse stick and your fraternity connections and you'll keep getting promoted for no reason." (Fun fact: Powell played lacrosse in real life.)
Other parts of the movie also feel refreshingly true to life.
Harper is a writer (at least an aspiring one) — before you yawn and mention "Trainwreck," "The Holiday," "Sleepless in Seattle," "Never Been Kissed" (we're stopping there)— who works for a sports website. Because women have dreams outside of Poise and Composure magazines!
Despite her difficult nature, Kirsten is actually Harper's idol, a solid decision considering Kirsten calls athletes out when their gaze drifts from her face and has no time for mansplaining.
Harper and Charlie's worlds also feel representative of real life. The possibly engaged Pete Davidson plays Charlie's roommate Duncan, a teacher who happens to be gay, though his sexual orientation doesn't influence his character in any stereotypical sense.
Going to great lengths to set up her demon boss, justto bank somefree time might feel like a stretch. But it's more realistic than risking your career to stalk a DJ you barely know, as Gillian Jacobs' character didin Netflix's "Ibiza."
Just like ″When We First Met” (in which Adam Devine's Noah longs for the affections of Alexandra Daddario's Avery), "Set It Up" diverts from the typical Hollywood ending. Kirsten doesn't find her forever with Rick, perhaps a testament to the fact that an accomplished woman with a career doesn't need a man to be fulfilled.
Even when Charlie and Harper finally, inevitablyget together , they don't exchange sweet nothings. Instead, they share what they dislike about each other, a nod to Harper's roommate's grandmother, who believed you liked someone because of their good traits but loved them despite their faults.
Still, romancejunkies can rest assured the modern-day love story is still a love story at heart, offering witty banter like one could find in When Harry Met Sally.
“That kind of back-and-forth ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ is the greatest thing in movies," screenwriter Katie Silberman says in Netflix promotional materials. "It’s what propels this movie forward and gives it the pace and the energy it needs.”
We think "Set It Up" has been set up for success like sleeper hit "The Kissing Booth," which Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos bragged to Vulture was “one of the most-watched movies in the country, and maybe in the world.” "Set It Up," is the perfect marriage of reality and rom-com fantasy.