Collateral Love: Why Netflix's 'Someone Great' Embodies the reality of relationships

Written by: Giselle Casteel

The main characters of ‘Someone Great’; Erin, Jenny, and Blair; Image credits go to: Sarah Shatz, Netflix

The most common fantasy that Disney has produced in each of their princess’ stories is the satisfying, “happily ever after.” Typically, the princess is lonely, in trouble, or in the middle of an identity crisis. The princess meets the prince, she instantly falls in love, a problem confronts her, the prince saves the day, and tadah--happily ever after. This recurring storyline fixates a conditioned expectation on coming-of-age females that the first male they fall in love with would perfectly suit them, protect them, and prolong with them. It almost seems too good to be true!

...Oh wait, it is.

Netflix released their emotional roller coaster of a movie, Someone Great, in 2019. In this peculiar princess story rom-com, we meet Jenny. She’s a latina living in New York with incredible writing skills, welcomed by the opportunity to pursue her music journalism in San Francisco. While this arose for her, Jenny’s relationship with her not-so-heroic prince, Nate, had been gradually unravelling realistic complications that would accompany them until their end.

In the beginning of their relationship, all that could be detected was attraction, security, and intimacy with one another. It was like nothing could ever break them apart...and in retrospect, there was no “one” event that jeopardized their feelings for each other. However, this film develops the drift of their connection at the fault of real life obstacles.

Inevitably, Jenny was going to move to San Francisco to utilize the opportunity given to her to become successful, while Nate struggled to find a passion that would carry him throughout his life. Not only would long distance become an issue that they would face, but it would stack on top of the toxicity built up over the span of their nine-year relationship.

Nine years is undeniably an extended period of time to document a couple when compared to Disney princess stories. Jenny and Nate started out like any other generic princess and prince plot. Convincingly, they were perfect for each other and resembled a healthy, long-lasting relationship.

Yet, the story doesn’t end the way Disney had pre-conditioned their audience to grow accustomed to. The arguments, neglect, and insecurities that manifested the downspiral of Jenny and Nate’s relationship aren’t at all what Disney portrays, but are in fact authentic in nature.

The break-up allowed for Jenny’s character development to emphasize the stages of heartbreak and overcoming depression. The pain she displays is relatable as even though she has what seems to be a great path ahead of her career-wise, she is still only able to focus on what was lost--Nate.

However, even though this happily ever after didn’t result in the accustomed Disney princess relationship, Jenny still moves forward in her emotions from abiding in acceptance to recognizing her self-worth.

As a latina especially, Jenny showcases the strength it takes to take advantage of opportunities for success while dealing with emotional trauma. Jenny had to confront her insecurities, hurt, and false hope in order to reach her need for choosing the best path for her life that doesn’t include Nate. She represents the struggle for people of color to step into their identity when dealing with life’s lessons.

Overall, the story that leaves Jenny and Nate discovering themselves on their own separate courses validates the collateral love that births into a person post-dysfunctional relationship. Jenny was able to see that she had a life ahead of her that she would pursue on her own. She walked into an identity within herself instead of within Nate or the actual relationship.

Unlike the romantic Disney princess story you hoped for, Someone Great instead teaches us that a time comes in life where you need to prioritize your resilience over your circumstances. The main takeaway I’d say, is that identity isn’t limited to where you are, but where you decide you will be.

Story photo

Cover photo

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