Why Jennifer Kaytin Robinson wanted to break female stereotypes in Someone Great
“So often in movies you get the happy ending that is completely unrealistic, and don’t get me started on how I think that’s informed how women make decisions about the things that we want in our love lives. I think it’s warped all of our brains.” When Jennifer Kaytin Robinson sat down to write Someone Great, she knew she wanted to make a movie about a woman who chooses herself. But that’s not the only way the Netflix film — out now — fights against Hollywood’s stereotypes for female characters.
Someone Great follows Jenny (Gina Rodriguez), a music journalist who lands her dream job, which just so happens to be across the country in San Francisco. Subsequently, her boyfriend of nine years, Nate (LaKeith Stanfield), breaks up with her, and with only a week left until she leaves New York City, Jenny hits the town with her best friends for a night they’ll remember … parts of.
For much of the film, the women are traveling around the city preparing for their big night out, and that brings us to the makeup. Other than the “night out” looks in the film, the characters in Someone Great aren’t wearing much, a purposeful choice from Robinson. “I was like, ‘You guys gotta look like real people. I want you guys to feel like you did your makeup.’ Because when I watch movies, I can’t help, as a woman, comparing myself to what I’m seeing on screen,” Robinson says. “When I see the perfect girl with the perfect hair and the perfect makeup but she’s crying about the guy and she’s a mess I’m like, ‘You’re not a f—ing mess!'”
Robinson says her three stars — Rodriguez, Brittany Snow, and DeWanda Wise — were all happy to go for a more realistic look. “I want women to watch this and feel like they’re hanging out with their best friends and not focus on the fact of: Who wears a daytime smokey eye? And why don’t I wear a daytime smokey eye? Should I wear a daytime smokey eye? Could I pull off a daytime smokey eye,” Robinson says.
The women were also in agreement about the idea of making a movie about female friendship that doesn’t involve a massive fight. You know the one: the big blow-up that then leads to the eventual (probably emotional) reconciliation. “I feel like the only place that exists is in film and television, where women are fighting in that way,” Robinson says. “I really wanted to rewrite that narrative that we’ve seen so many times where you have to have that break into the third act moment of everyone splitting apart to come back together again. They can split apart but they don’t have to be mad at each other. [Jenny] just dips. She just goes rogue for a little bit. She took a little too much molly and she just needed to take a sabbatical and have a little walkabout and write a poem.”
And that brings us back to Jenny’s decision to choose herself, despite the fact that her ex-boyfriend is a great guy whom she loves very much. “It was also important that LaKeith’s character was not a villain because so often it’s like, ‘He cheated!'” But so much more often, time rips you apart or circumstance rips you apart and it’s not about love, it’s about the world around you and your changing self,” Robinson says. “I wanted to put a meaningful stamp on the fact that someone great is Gina, someone great is the women, someone great is LaKeith, and it can be all of those things at once. But really, the love story of this movie was between these three women.”