‘Love, Simon’ is full of cheesy rom-com tropes and that’s why we need it

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

After its many advertisements that proclaimed “coming out on March 16th”, the explicitly gay marketing for Love, Simon has raised the hopes of many who were antsy for a heartwarming gay love story without the usual sexualization and melodrama that comes with it. Expectant moviegoers will confirm it is just that.

Based on the 2015 book Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon stars Nick Robinson as Simon Spier, a closeted gay senior who is blackmailed by a classmate with emails exchanged between him and another anonymous gay kid at school.

The film lives up to its genre of rom-com; you can definitely tell it’s made by the producers of The Fault in Our Stars. It’s packed with the same tropes, and it basically plays out the same besides the gay twist. It has a slightly superficial depiction of “the millennial lifestyle”, with the main characters getting Starbucks together and having parts of the plot unfold on an online blog for the high school, though besides a vice principal literally snatching phones from students in the hallways it’s not too heavy-handed. Despite the plot revolving around a gay love story, an unrequited straight romance featuring the “asshole with redeeming qualities” in many problematic is in the storyline but resolves in a way that shows the writers are aware of it.

Simon is a relatively generic white guy sort of character, and that’s standard for most Hollywood movies. This time the point was to break the stereotype that all gay men are distinctly feminine and flamboyant. My big complaint though (and the elephant in the room) is that Nick Robinson is a straight actor, and although there are POC side characters, you can tell they picked Robinson to be a default type of person to relate to, and at least in my opinion cishet white male is as bland as it gets. Still, the movie makes it clear that this is not the only way to be gay, because they also include Ethan; another gay character who is sassy, stylish, and a POC.

Megan Behon from an early screening of the film agrees about Ethan. “I liked that they stereotyped the other kid who was usually bullied for being gay,” Behon said. “That one’s kind of a mixed opinion where they stereotyped him, but at the same time it showed how different he and Simon were even though they were both of the same sexuality, that being a gay guy is not just one category.”

The movie also explores what it means to stay in the closet and what it means to come out. It presents questions like who, how, and when to tell, why people don’t tell, and why some proudly live their truth while others are afraid of the consequences. This was done in a way that was digestible to an audience unfamiliar with these topics while still being a little more than surface-level.

It’s hard not to adore this movie. It’s amazing how easily gay romance can quickly fix tired rom-com tropes. After watching Love, Simon, you are left thinking “is this how I’m supposed to feel when the boy meets the girl in every other feel-good film I’ve had to sit through?” And it’s because we don’t get enough of this.

Annabelle Gaj was another audience member of an early screening. “I thought going in it wasn’t going to be a fantastic movie. I thought it was just going to be a kind of sloppy effort or attempt at trying to appeal to people, but it actually warmed my heart up.”

The creators are encouraging moviegoers to use the hashtag on social media with posts about their reactions to the movie. Whether or not you think you will enjoy the film, it is worth seeing if you want to watch one of the first big studio cheesy yet endearing American gay motion pictures.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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