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How the To All the Boys Franchise Created a Lasting Legacy of Inclusion

How the 'To All the Boys' Franchise Created a Legacy of Inclusion

How the 'To All the Boys' Franchise Created a Legacy of Inclusion

PRIDE chats with the stars of the popular inclusive Netflix rom-com series that put Asian Americans front and center. 

byraffy

The third and final installment of Netflix's popular romantic comedy film series To All the Boys drops today, and although Always and Forever is the last time we'll be seeing Lara Jean, Peter Kavinsky, and the rest of the Covey fam on screen, it's good to reflect on the franchise's lasting legacy of inclusion and representation. 

Starring an Asian American leading love interest, and featuring queer characters, characters of color, and complex relationships between women, the To All the Boys franchise has been at the forefront of portraying the real world in which the current generation of high schoolers and young people inhabit — a world that is as unique and diverse as they are. And, when it comes to authentic representation in mainstream media, that is something that is still worth celebrating. 

PRIDE got the chance to sit down with the film's cast and creators, including Lana Condor​, Noah Centineo​, Janel Parrish​, Anna Cathcart​, Ross Butler​, Madeleine Arthur​, and writer JennyHan​ (the author of the YA book series the films are based on) about Asian American representation, what they'll miss most about the films, their favorite things about their characters, and more!

"One of the things that I love the most about these films is that it normalizes seeing Asian Americans in mainstream media," Lara Jean actress herself Lana Condor told PRIDE about being a part of a popular rom-com franchise that brought Asian American voices, faces, and narratives to the forefront. "It's a story about friendship and love and their Asianness is very much part of their identity and is who they are, but it's not constantly reminding the audience that, 'Don't forget they're Asian! Don't forget this fact 'cause we all know it!' It's a nuanced way of making films that I think we need to do more of.

She continued:

"For me, I feel like my mission in my career is to continue doing stories that just normalize seeing someone that looks like us in a leading role falling in love. I think that's brilliant and Jenny Han always said the beginning that Asian people can fall in love too. And I was like, yeah, that's true."

"I think oftentimes when the main character of a story is not white, people are like, 'Well, why do they have to be another race? Why should they be Asian if it's not really important to the storyline?'" To All the Boys creator Jenny Han added. "And I'm like, 'Well, why should they be white?' Why do we have to justify our existence just to be in a love story? That was for me, the point of it was it really wasn't about being Asian. There's so much more to people than just that, and I want it to be able to explore [Lara Jean's] identity as a whole and that's a piece of it, but that's not the whole point of it. I think for a long time we've only been shown stories where, when we get to see somebody who is a person of color in a film, it's all about their pain and their struggle, and coming to terms with that identity. I just wasn't interested in doing that with this one."

"I do want to see stories about pain and struggle," Han said. "But I don't think everything that we see when it comes to seeing a nonwhite face should be the narrative of somebody really going through a hard time because of their racial identity."

To All the Boys: Always and Forever is now streaming on Netflix

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Raffy Ermac

Digital Director, Out.com

Raffy is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor, video creator, critic, and digital director of Out Magazine. The former editor-in-chief of PRIDE, he is also a die-hard Rihanna and Sailor Moon stan who loves to write about all things pop culture, entertainment, and identities. Follow him on Instagram (@raffyermac) and Twitter (@byraffy), and subscribe to his YouTube channel

Raffy is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor, video creator, critic, and digital director of Out Magazine. The former editor-in-chief of PRIDE, he is also a die-hard Rihanna and Sailor Moon stan who loves to write about all things pop culture, entertainment, and identities. Follow him on Instagram (@raffyermac) and Twitter (@byraffy), and subscribe to his YouTube channel