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Ranking All of the Setups in ‘Set It Up’

A look at all of the schemes hatched in the recently released Netflix rom-com

Netflix/Ringer illustration

Big-budget superhero movies have a stranglehold on cinemas, but luckily for us, Netflix has the rom-com corner covered. The streaming site’s most recent offering, Set It Up, stars the immensely likable Glen Powell and Zoey Deutch as two overworked assistants who set up their bosses in an attempt to lighten their workload. As expected, the plan results in various high jinks. Strictly speaking, this isn’t the most ethically sound movie, but it’s entertaining nonetheless. And while the two assistants should probably devote more time to conference calls and less to emotional subterfuge, some of their more involved plans are undeniably impressive. Below, we rank all the Charlie (Powell) and Harper (Deutch) setups from ill-conceived to inspired.

7. Early on, our charming leads dip their toes into the world of romantic trickery by attempting to get their bosses stuck together in an elevator. Charlie and Harper proposition maintenance man Creepy Tim (Tituss Burgess) to shut down the elevator once both bosses step inside, but a rogue delivery man complicates things. When Creepy Tim accidentally causes the elevator to break with all three passengers still inside, the delivery man starts freaking out and shedding clothes. (Probably a natural human reaction for anyone stuck in an elevator with Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs, let’s face it.) After a bout of stress incontinence causes him to fully strip and start urinating into his delivery boxes, Kirsten (Liu) and Rick (Diggs) manage to escape the elevator. “I’m not great at reading rooms, but even I can tell that was a huge success,” proclaims Creepy Tim. Not entirely right, Creepy Tim, but it’s a start.

6. Props to Set It Up for being perhaps the only rom-com in history to include a lengthy scene about “the cyclical popularity of the full bush.” After Charlie overhears Rick saying he doesn’t like women with pubic hair, he tells Harper to force her boss to get a bikini wax. The scene itself is cringe-worthy, but it proves that Glen Powell can make anything charming, including a discussion about merkins. I resent the goal, but I respect the execution.

5. After a fight derails the now-decently successful relationship between the bosses, Rick comes back to the office drunk and bonds with Charlie, asking for advice on how to get Kirsten back. Charlie recommends that he tell her, “I see you,” which is how the giant blue aliens say “I love you” in Avatar. Unconventional, but effective! Rick apologizes, Kirsten forgives him, and they have sex in the office. I think James Cameron would approve.

4. Early on in the movie, after a few successful meet-cutes bring Rick and Kirsten together, we’re hit with a classic dating montage. But the events contained within the montage are entirely engineered by Charlie and Harper, as they send flowers and bottles of expensive booze from one boss to the other, and even pick out dresses for Kirsten to wear on dates. At this point, I’m concerned about the amount of power these people wield—who lets assistants pick out their clothes?

3. Charlie and Harper get their bosses to go to a wine festival in Nantucket so they can enjoy a workless weekend. While putting the finishing touches on the plan, Harper meets Charlie’s roommate (Pete Davidson) and they become best friends in about 30 seconds. Evidently that’s just how long it takes Pete Davidson to make all meaningful relationships in life.

2. The first truly successful meet-cute happens at a Yankees game, where Charlie and Harper engineer a Kiss Cam makeout session. “You know I can make this happen,” a worker tells Harper. The first few attempts don’t work, as Kirsten and Rick stubbornly refuse to kiss. It doesn’t help that Rick yells things like “Be elite!” at the players, which is maybe the worst cheer I’ve ever heard. After four separate Kiss Cam attempts, they finally give in, and Operation Ruin-Two-People’s-Lives-In-Order-To-Make-Happy-Hour-On-Time is a go.


1. The best setup in Set It Up is not intentional. As Charlie and Harper tinker with their bosses’ lives, they accidentally fall for each other. But the main catalyst in this romance is worthy of its own recognition—a simple science project. After Rick destroys the project Charlie made for Rick’s son, Harper skips a date to save the day at the last minute. She engineers a simple milk–food coloring mixture that would normally be good for a B-minus at best, if not for the incredible project title: Magic Milk XXL. “I think Magic Milk should win a Nobel Prize,” Harper says, echoing my feelings about Magic Mike XXL. This final project is their masterpiece—creative, effective, and (a little more) ethically sound.