The latest teen film has emerged where the likes of Superbad and Booksmart have previously thrived. Plan B released by streaming service Hulu on May 28. It was directed by Natalie Morales (her directorial debut!), with screenplay from Prathiksha Srinivasan and Joshua Levy. The film follows best friends Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) and Lupe (Victoria Moroles) as they embark on a road trip to Planned Parenthood following Sunny’s regretful first sexual encounter and things don’t quite go as planned.
Sunny is an Indian American straight A student whose mum is perfectionist and sets the same sky-high standards for Sunny. Her best friend Lupe is a fierce individual, although she also has a strict parent, her pastor dad.
Themes in Plan B
For a teen coming of age film, Plan B will have you in for a wild ride with crazy subplots and R-Rated moments. Furthermore, the film remains sex positive and at the same time it doesn’t sexualize teens. The sexualization of teens is far too common (think Euphoria). In fact, it shows the more uncomfortable truths of sex that are often left out. This is an important theme in the film, in the South Asian community sexual shame is conditioned into women from a young age. Therefore, to see Sunny talk openly about wanting to have sex is a progressive step forward. Moreover, the running gag of ‘Indian mafia’ where Sunny explains that there is a network of Indians who will spy and report back to her mum is one that hit too close to home.
Another important theme throughout the film is family values. Both Sunny and Lupe, like any teen, have secrets that they don’t want their parent(s) knowing about. Here we have Sunny who is going to great lengths to make sure her mum will never find out about her having sex. We also have Lupe who is afraid of whether her dad will truly accept her for who she is. As the story unravels the girls face their truths.
Plan B is a bold first entry from Morales. It offers a refreshing take on the female teen experience, as it is not told through the male gaze. Morales is best known for her acting career, having starred in shows such as Parks and Recreation and Dead to Me to name a few. Plan B is centred on the experiences of teen women of colour, played by Verma and Moroles. This is Verma’s first breakout role in film; Moroles is best known for her work in MTV’s Teen Wolf.
It’s a breath of fresh air to see stories about underrepresented voices in a film which is not primarily focused on their struggles and trauma. It’s important to celebrate and acknowledge that our experiences are not only filled with pain. By portraying us in a light that showcases experiences such as one filled with beauty, uncertainty, and joy it humanizes us further. Now this isn’t to say we don’t face barriers in our daily lives, but instead that our lives aren’t only about struggle and hardship.
Driving force of the film: teen friendship
Plan B is fun, messy, and most importantly heart-warming. A road trip buddy comedy where the driving force (pun intended) of the film is the friendship that becomes more solidified by the end of the film between the two lead protagonists. Both Sunny and Lupe learn more about each other as well as about themselves as individuals.
Watching teen films as I’m in my early 20s is often bittersweet. On one hand, I’m relieved I don’t feel things as intensely as I did as a teen, on the other the teen experience is a special one. As you grow older, the painful truth about life is that it becomes difficult to maintain friendships. Sadly, sometimes you outgrow those you thought would be in your life forever. Looking back on my teen years, the friendships I formed during those years were one of my highlights.
To put it simply, this is a film I would have loved to watch growing up.