Netflix shows portray more accurate representation of real characters

On Aug. 17, 2017, Netflix released the smash teen romantic comedy hit, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” This movie ushered in a new wave of diversity in teen movies, starring an Asian American lead who was surrounded by a diverse family and group of friends.

Lara Jean is an average day-dreaming teenage girl who writes a letter to a boy whenever she has a crush. But one day, all of her letters get sent, and she must deal with the real life consequences instead of hiding behind her pen and paper. 

The movie scored a whopping 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, showing that critics and teens alike agree, this new wave of inclusivity is accompanied by movies that truly capture the heart of our generation. 

On Sept. 7, not long after the release of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” Netflix released another teen rom-com called “Sierra Burgess is A Loser,” starring Shannon Purser who is best known for her role as Barb on Netflix’s hit TV show, “Stranger Things.” 

Purser plays a plus-size teenage girl who gets a text from a boy who thinks she is someone else. The movie focuses on body image issues that a lot teens face. Although this movie didn’t get as much overwhelming support as “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” it still helped to initiate important conversation. 

In the past, your typical teen romantic comedy usually starred a thin, caucasian actress who fell for the typical teen heartthrob. While some wouldn’t even bat an eye, we forget that there’s a little girl who grows up never getting to see someone who looks like her on TV or in movies. With nearly 100 million paying viewers, Netflix has one of the biggest platforms the entertainment industry has ever seen. By using this platform to shine a light on the issues that teens today are facing, they are providing our generation with movies that actually are reflective of our own experiences. 

But this fight for equal representation goes far beyond romantic comedies. It spans into our congress, where only 21 percent of the members are women, 9.4 percent are African American and 3.3 percent are Asian. These numbers are far below the actual representation of these groups in America.  

Despite some of Netflix’s major successes, they have also had a couple of missteps. “Insatiable” starring Debby Ryan, received widespread backlash due to its message that many felt encouraged unhealthy weight loss and “fat-phobia.” This television show was a major error that Netflix seemed to not realize after they renewed it for a second season. Even though this took them two steps back, they have taken another step forward with their new releases that encourage the rest of the film industry to follow their lead. 

To many people, a movie is just a movie, but we fail to remember that the entertainment industry shapes our culture and daily lives. By creating content that has a story for everyone, no matter their age, race, sexual orientation or body type, we are taking steps to not only improve representation in entertainment, but also representation everywhere. 

If we do not have equal representation, we as a society are failing. We are failing not only our own generation, but all the generations that are yet to come. This new era of romantic comedies with diverse casts and characters brings hope to the rest of the entertainment industry. 

By Netflix using their vast platform for good, they are taking our world in the right direction. 

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