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The Ringer Staff’s ‘To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You’ Instant Reactions

Lara Jean, Peter Kavinsky, and Co. returned last week in their highly anticipated sequel, so naturally we watched and came away with plenty of opinions about Lara Jean’s love triangle … and everything else

Netflix/Ringer illustration

One of the more anticipated Netflix films of the year dropped on Wednesday, and though this one may not win any Oscars, the series has already won over plenty of hearts. The Ringer staff spent their weekends watching To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, the sequel to the wildly successful (and adorable) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and wrote down their instant reactions. So, from determining which guy should win Lara Jean’s heart to deciding when Kitty should get her own spinoff series, here are their thoughts:


Team John Ambrose, and It’s Not Close

Kate Halliwell: Noah Centineo has poisoned my mind.

I was hoping that I’d be able to fire up P.S. I Still Love You this past week, set eyes on good ol’ Peter Kavinsky, and still feel that same spark—the spark that launched 1,000 thirsty tweets, blogs, and podcast episodes. But no. We’re over, and it’s all Noah Centineo’s fault.

When I look at Peter now, I see only Noah. Because of that, staring at Peter Kavinsky no longer sparks joy, or butterflies, or anything but mild distaste. All I see are the stupid poems, the dumb tweets, the Logan Paul defenses, the blond beard. ... I just can’t do it anymore.

So imagine my surprise when Lara Jean is provided a PERFECTLY GOOD alternate love interest in the painfully charming John Ambrose (Broadway golden boy Jordan Fisher) and then … leaves him hanging? For Peter? Who is out here being “friends” with Ugg-wearing, revenge-porn-sharing GEN? This two-timing, scrunchie-stealing chick with the dumbest nickname of all time? I have not forgotten. I will not forget.

Lara Jean, please come to your senses and pivot to Team John Ambrose in the third movie. Noah, and by extension Peter, isn’t the man we thought he was. Move on—I have.

Lara Jean Needs to Chill the Fuck Out

Michael Baumann: Lara Jean’s first romantic relationship is pretty intense—like, it’s not just two teens making out because they sat together on the bus home from a marching band competition. This is love as far as 16-year-olds understand the phenomenon. And she has reason to feel anxiety, since Peter still talks to his ex, drives an obnoxious Jeep, and just sort of generally exists outside Lara Jean’s social comfort zone. But like 10 minutes removed from the epic kiss on the lacrosse field, Lara Jean’s already freaking out about her and Peter breaking up, and eyeballing another dude, who she’s apparently destined to be with because she had a crush on him in middle school?

I think Peter loves Lara Jean. I don’t think Lara Jean loves Peter, at least not as much as she loves the idealized fantasy of falling in love—and here’s where the distinction between falling in love and being in love is important. The first movie ends when Peter and Lara Jean get together, and it really seems like Lara Jean never thought past that. Otherwise, she would’ve told John Ambrose she had a boyfriend before she spent months flirting with him. She has to learn that a fight doesn’t automatically lead to a breakup, and she’s definitely got to stop saying things like “I’ve never been a girlfriend before,” as if the relationship status is more important than the relationship.

It’s not unreasonable for an imaginative but naive teen to have grandiose and self-sabotaging views on love, sex, and relationships—after all, we were all imaginative but naive teens once. (Here Holland Taylor’s delightful Stormy is a good influence, even if she inadvertently pushes Lara Jean toward the wrong guy.) But Lara Jean has to learn that the chase is not the point, or else she’ll end up a lonely serial monogamist at best, or at worst leave a trail of canceled engagements and freaked-out ex-lovers through her 20s and 30s.

But first she’ll break Peter’s heart, just like he asked her to.

Give Kitty Her Own Movie

Kaya McMullen: Recapturing the magic of the first To All the Boys film was never going to be an easy task. But even so, P.S. I Still Love You’s plot fell flat (also: see Kate above on Peter Kavinsky morphing into Noah Centineo). Outside of the misses, though, there is one consistent hit: the youngest Covey sister, Kitty. In between keeping Lara Jean honest about her love life and playing matchmaker for her dad, Kitty is the shining star of TABILB 2. That’s why it’s time to expand the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Cinematic Universe (TABILBCU?) and give Kitty her own spinoff series. Let Lara Jean go back and forth between Peter Kavinsky and John Ambrose in peace. Let’s instead follow the exploits of Kitty, where in between reminding Lara Jean to shower and successfully meddling in her dad’s love life, she still finds time to rock space buns, which I have tried to pull off multiple times, unsuccessfully.

The Correct Answer to Peter vs. John Ambrose Is Nobody

Alison Herman: Lara Jean Covey, I will join certain colleagues of mine in noting, does not have a realistic idea of what it means to be in a relationship. As John Ambrose points out, she’s admirably in touch with her emotions—but only her own emotions, not those of the flesh-and-blood people she has trouble recognizing as more than the two-dimensional objects of her desire. That’s hardly a sin; self-absorption is the natural state of the teenage brain. But that mean cousin from Korean New Year might’ve had an (accidental) point. Assuming Lara Jean wouldn’t date until college was supposed to be a burn … but what if that’s just how it should be?

Lara Jean is essentially a PG, Gen Z version of Carrie Bradshaw. More than romanticism, the written word, or the adoration of John Corbett, the two heroines share something a little less savory: a total disregard for the emotional consequences of their actions for the men in their life. Lara Jean blames Peter for not being the kind of guy to write her poetry, though it’s not fair to demand your partner become someone they’re not; she can’t bring herself to tell John Ambrose she’s in a relationship, or be honest with herself about why. She could acknowledge that John Ambrose is the sort of person she should have been looking for all along, apologize to Peter for not fully understanding her own desires, and end things on a positive note. But that takes maturity. And what does maturity take? Time.

Frankly, Lara Jean is simply not prepared to date, and she shouldn’t for the foreseeable future. This might sound harsh, but it really isn’t! It’s for the sake of the teen boys Lara Jean unwittingly conscripts into her personal romance novel, yes, but also Lara Jean herself, who needs space to separate her priorities from the things pop culture has told her she should want. A girl with such a rich inner life is more than capable of keeping occupied until the hormones die down a little bit. I suggest she does just that.

Female Friendships Are Important Too!

Megan Schuster: Most of the immediate takeaways from this movie center on the Peter–John Ambrose–Lara Jean love triangle, and that’s fine. That’s supposed to be the instant reaction. But the most powerful part of this movie wasn’t Lara Jean and John Ambrose’s kiss in the snow, or Peter showing up to drive LJ home in the storm even though they weren’t technically together at that point. The most powerful part of the movie was the mending of the friendship fence between Lara Jean and Gen.

Yes, Gen has been the villain of this series since the beginning, the ever-present popular girl who (a) ditched Lara Jean as a friend, (b) refused to give up Peter without a fight, and (c) did some truly horrendous shit on Instagram. But LJ and Gen’s talk in their childhood tree house reminded me of another often fraught, but always powerful television female friendship: that of Brooke Davis and Peyton Sawyer in One Tree Hill. Those two fought over boys for almost the entire show (OK, the entire show), and also did some ridiculously terrible things to one another. But in the end, it was Clothes Over Bros—which isn’t exactly applicable here, but you get the gist.

After Lara Jean calls Gen up to the tree house, she explains that she and Peter broke up, and that Gen was a big reason. “I was convinced that he was never really going to get over you,” Lara Jean says. “And then I realized that the person who couldn’t get over you was me.” It was really lovely to see these two share an honest moment and realize that no boy is worth sacrificing such an important relationship for.

Dr. Covey Cooked a Wildly Inappropriate Amount of Turkey

Baumann: “Fakesgiving” is a positively charming tradition, and packs a lot of character flavor into not that much narrative space. It shows that the Coveys are a caring and close-knit family but not so stifled by tradition (or the calendar) that they can’t have a little fun. Most importantly, it balances Dr. Covey’s desire to bang the neighbor lady (a desire his daughters support) with his deep and persistent love for his late wife, so we know that he’s neither a sad sack nor a lecher.

What Dr. Covey cannot do, however, is judge serving size. Look at this Fakesgiving turkey. It’s the size of a Ford Focus.

Netflix

There are only five people at this table. One of them is an actual child. Two others—Lara Jean and Mrs. Rothschild—are about the size of the turkey on the table. Even accounting for the fact that Peter Kavinsky, as a high school athlete, probably eats 10,000 calories a day, Dr. Covey has provided about four times as much turkey as a dinner party this size can put away. I Googled “How much turkey can five people eat?” and ended up finding this nifty article that says a Thanksgiving (or Fakesgiving) cook should prepare about 1.25 pounds of turkey per guest—that’s 6.25 pounds for five people, maybe seven pounds if Kavinsky skipped his post-practice hoagie. More reasonably, a five-person party would get by with a roast chicken or some smaller creature.

What’s the plan here, Doc? Are you going to provide Kitty with all the protein she needs for her entire growth spurt in one sitting? Are the girls going to take drumsticks to school for lunch and walk around with meat sticks like Disney World tourists? You’re never going to win Trina’s affections by housing a comically large pile of meat like you’re Fred Flintstone. Get it together, man, you’re embarrassing yourself.