RomCom Killjoys

No Strings Attached (2011) & Friends With Benefits (2011)

March 23, 2020 RomCom Killjoys Season 1 Episode 3
RomCom Killjoys
No Strings Attached (2011) & Friends With Benefits (2011)
RomCom Killjoys
No Strings Attached (2011) & Friends With Benefits (2011)
Mar 23, 2020 Season 1 Episode 3
RomCom Killjoys

It's a very special f*ck buddies showdown ... Guest Medha Marsten and Jonelle discuss No Strings Attached (2011) and Friends With Benefits (2011), including what was in the water in 2011, the ambiguous appeal of Justin Timberlake, and the eternal question: can men and women ever be just friends(with benefits)?

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Show Notes Transcript

It's a very special f*ck buddies showdown ... Guest Medha Marsten and Jonelle discuss No Strings Attached (2011) and Friends With Benefits (2011), including what was in the water in 2011, the ambiguous appeal of Justin Timberlake, and the eternal question: can men and women ever be just friends(with benefits)?

Support the show (

spk_0:   0:01
chick flicks, romantic comedies. Raam comes, You love them, you hate them and I'm here to eviscerates them. This is the wrong calm killjoys podcast. I'm your host, General Walker I'm a writer and researcher who studies gender theory, ideology and representations of both in popular culture, gathered together my favorite pop culture literate friends to take your favorite romcom way too seriously in order to understand why we love to hate these movies and what they're trying to tell us about love, relationships and marriage. Now let's get on with some feminist joy killing Hi, everybody. And welcome back to the show. This week we have a special doubleheader, the first doubleheader of the show. It's a fuck buddy showdown we're gonna be discussing to Romcom from the year of our Lord 2011 the first of which is no strings attached, the second of which is friends with benefits and just discuss spoke of me here today is my good friend made a marston made to tell the people a little bit about yourself.

spk_1:   1:16
Ah, hi, I'm made of Marston. I am currently a graduate student, a perennial graduate student, and I would say I'm a grad student by day in a theater director by night

spk_0:   1:24
on a personal note. Kind of funny, but I think it's funny you and I are the ones discussed this episode because, um, I know I could say, Well, currently single. I am a serial monogamy. Aniston. How would you describe your relationship? Status? Maeda.

spk_1:   1:38
Um, I am married, and I have been in a relationship with the same person for ridiculously long amount of time. Here

spk_0:   1:47
we go. Two experts on the topic. No strings attached. Sexual relations. Here we go. Great. So let's get started with no strings attached. 2011 Lifelong friends Emma, Natalie Portman and Adam Ashton Kutcher take their relationship to the next level but having sex, Afraid of ruining their friendship, the new lovers make a pact to keep things purely physical, with no fighting, no jealousy and no expectations. Emma and Adam pledge to do whatever they want wherever they want, as long as they do not fall in love. The question then becomes who will fall first. Okay, so that is what Google tells us that this movie is about. But Major, what is this movie really about?

spk_1:   2:36
Well, I think calling them friends is a little bit of a stretch because they do know each other. But unlike the second we're gonna be talking about, I don't necessarily think that they are friends. They're more like acquaintances when the movie starts, um, before they start hooking up together. And it's about two people who have extremely difficult backgrounds in terms of relationships and their parents and their families. And Natalie Portman's character is a med student, and Ashton Kutcher's a writer for a TV show. Well, not yet. He's like a production assistant for a TV show, and they make this deal because Natalie Portman, as a med student, says, I'm busy. I don't have time to have a relationship, but I would love to have sex with someone. So you, as an acquaintance, don't fall in love with me, she says very pointedly. But let's have sex. And of course we know what happens. Of course,

spk_0:   3:29
because it's wrong because it's an issue we will discuss, know very much

spk_1:   3:33
like a walk to remember the famous line. Don't fall in love with me. We can do this thing together, but don't fall in love with me already tells you how this movie is gonna turn out right and let's maybe start

spk_0:   3:44
with that. I mean, I think my issue with this movie in general is that while Emma is pretty clear about her feelings about listen, I'm not emotionally available. I'm really busy. I'm doing my residency as a doctor. I would like to have sex with you, but I don't really want to do any of the other stuff. Adam is pretty persistent and saying like, Cool, cool, cool. I hear what you want, But I'm just gonna ignore that and sort of pursue you in a romantic way anyway. And I don't know, that just seems not. No, not as romantic is Maybe I would like it to be, I think, in my

spk_1:   4:18
well, and I think that's the hard part about them. Not really. Being friends from the get go is that he is very much he doesn't know how to be her friend. He only knows how to be a boyfriend, it seems like, and so he doesn't know how to be friends with benefits, right? He doesn't know the friends part. So his version of being friends is is actually trying to have a relationship so he's a little bit confused on that front. Of course, we see his whole life backstory, and we understand why he's so messed up about just human relationships in general. Be I think you're right, that he doesn't really know how to be friends with her, so that just turns into him trying to make her his girlfriend.

spk_0:   4:56
I think that that's a good point. And so maybe we should delve a little further into this issue of both of their backgrounds, which are offered from the beginning of the movie onward as a kind of explanation for why they are the way that they are. So let's let's start with Adam. So what's Adam's deal? Why is it that he only wants to be a boyfriend and he's sort of uncomfortable with this Friends with benefits set?

spk_1:   5:17
So we learned that Adam's dad is played by Kevin Klein, who was a famous actor who was big on some TV show and is constantly getting it falling in and out of relationships, marriages, et cetera, And I believe Adam Pictures mother is dead in this movie. I believe so. But

spk_0:   5:35
I believe that that's right where

spk_1:   5:37
she died, maybe they got divorced before she died. But regardless, she's dead. The parents haven't been together for a while, and you see that the beginning when he meets now Portman's character at summer camp is that they both kind of bond over having parents that are not together, whether by divorce or by death or just arguing. So yeah, And then you find out that his father has started dating his ex girlfriend. Fashion pictures, ex girlfriend who's in Nightmare?

spk_0:   6:04
Yeah, she is a full on my marriage, and it makes you wonder, like this poor guy Does he really have the best taste in women? I mean, he clearly dated earlier this sort of like, I guess she's supposed to be, like a kind of oughts l a socialite. Type that personality?

spk_1:   6:19
Yeah. L A by way of South Africa. Very bizarre, kind of kind of hippie, but also very like, likes a lot of money, goes to Burning Man, takes a lot of drugs,

spk_0:   6:29
so she could not be more different from me,

spk_1:   6:32
but they're both emotionally unavailable, but one because she's Loki, a psychopath, and the other one because she's a med student Question mark. My

spk_0:   6:41
concern is I sort of feel bad for Adam that, like he's really into emotionally unavailable women. So maybe that was my leg. Innate Spidey sense Watching this movie is I kept thinking like, No, don't do it, Adam. Be with a girl who will receive your love But I mean, Emma's not set up for that, and I am less sure about why Emma is not set up for that. What was your read on her background explanation for? Why she's

spk_1:   7:03
sort of cold. Oh, I feel like this was just like someone saw garden stay and they were like, Oh, now deportment plays this character stupor. Well, let's give her this. I mean, it's just like Garden State. We're at the beginning. There's like random funerals, right? We're like in gardens. Say there's two funerals that pop up in the 1st 20 minutes of the movie, Um, Esso. And this one is the same thing where, when they meet for the second time because you've seen him, you see the meat, it's summer camp, and then you see the meat the second time, and they're at a frat party at the University of Michigan. Natalie Portman sees Ashton Kutcher and invites him to go with her to quote unquote a thing the next day, which turns out to be her father's funeral. She's like, Yeah, I just come in with Tina's thing. It's, you know, low key, my father's funeral on. So he comes not dressed for the occasion, of course, because he was not set up for success. So he shows up like hungover in a hoodie and shorts and probably flip flops to a funeral. Poor

spk_0:   8:00
yeah, exactly. Poor Atta, who that sucked into these women, who for some reason have been carved out like hollow jackal and turns off emotion like it's it's a very strange thing.

spk_1:   8:13
And you gonna re later from Emma's mother, where she says that, you know, when Emma's father died, she feels like Emma kind of shut herself off to the world because she wanted her mother not to see her suffer to be in pain or anything. So she kind of closed herself off emotionally, a little bit strange, because Emma's father doesn't die until she's like halfway through college. So for something like to be that drastic in her way of interacting with the world is interesting and intense. But especially

spk_0:   8:42
because the first scene, the first scene, we see the two of them in there at summer camp, and we already sort of get a sense of Maxine when they're 12. I think that Emma's not super emotional. She doesn't seem to have a good read on how to engage with people on a sort of empathetic level. So the movie kind of undermines itself there sort of tryingto, I think, push in this explanation for why she's so cold. But

spk_1:   9:06
that's what Dr. Question Mark, because she's unemotional, is a woman. So she's there for a good doctor.

spk_0:   9:13
Great, emotionless women doctors. That's more of what the world needs, Yes, but it is also interesting to me that Emma seems very sort of clear about what she wants out of her, you know, entanglements with men. And then that starts to change not only because she's sort of met up with Adam, but also because suddenly her sister's engaged and then her mother has this boyfriend. And that is what convinces her that maybe she should be in relationships, despite earlier describing herself as quote having an emotional peanut allergy.

spk_1:   9:46
Yeah, well, I mean, there's the whole trope of like, Oh, the younger sister got engaged. And now you're seriously in trouble because if you're younger, sit like sibling gets engaged, married has a baby before you. You are permanently damaged. There's something wrong with you. Yeah. So there's a little bit of that where you feel like she does begin to shift just because her sister is getting engaged, which is a little bit bizarre because none of her friends really have strong relationships until the end. So really just relies on her relationship with her mom and her sister.

spk_0:   10:16
Yeah, this sort of intrigue. I haven't thought about that that she sort of lives with a bunch of. Well, I shouldn't say a bunch of two other women dot dot residents and yeah, they sort of get tied up in the end, a la Shakespearean comedy as well, But but neither of them are really portrayed as being emotionless. Right, Would you say

spk_1:   10:34
Well, okay, So Mindy Kaling I'm just gonna shout out Mindy Kaling being in this movie because for the first time, I saw her outside of the office, which was very exciting, but she she's kind of shown as being somewhat emotionless, right? because you see her character. She is irritated about being single but more about, like less about the emotional attachment and more about just having someone. Because at the end of the movie and we have, I don't know if it's like after credit scene or something, you see her with the attractive doctor who Emma was also kind of seeing. Maybe we're not really sure she's telling him that she's been seeing lots and lots of other people. I'm not dating him exclusively. And she also is kind of cold. Tomo when Emma is very depressed and tells her that she's depressing to be around. So there's a little bit of ah, I guess, an analogy there with all these women doctors not being extremely emotional.

spk_0:   11:28
Yes, there there may be something there, especially considering that also, in this house of amazing residents, there is the great that a girl is in this movie. Everyone who knew that I didn't unbelievable brilliant actor writer director Greta Gerwig on dhe. She also sort of has I wouldn't say unfeeling, but almost like mildly at times. I have to admit that with these doctors, I sort of wondered like at least with Greta Gerwig character like, Is she trying to be portrayed as being like somewhat on the autism spectrum? Or someone who truly dykes struggles with social norms? Because she's so she has so much difficulty engaging with people in a sort of like a socially norm kind of way beyond the end. She sort of gets hooked up with guys by virtue of Emma's own sort of flowering into relationships, which is really intriguing that they all sort of catch it at the same time. So I did want to say, as a note, the guy who was parallel pursuing Emma against Ashton Kutcher's Adam. Also really strange character because he gives Adam this whole speech where he says, You know, during the guy that she hooks up with your her friend with benefits, But I'm the guy she's gonna marry, which made me sort of feel like Whoa buckaroo. First of all, she's at least had a conversation with that about what she wants out of a relationship. You clearly have no idea what's going on, Doctor, because she has never not once talked about the possibility of marriage. Never not once do to that guy.

spk_1:   12:50
But I kind of love that because he comes in saying like, You're the guy that she's, you know, friends with benefits with fuck buddies with your little like fun in your twenties guy. But I'm the guy for life, and she very specifically says, like I will provide for her. I love that he's not the one that wins and that Adam also doesn't take that as a oh. I have to suddenly get my life together and try to provide for M. O. Because I was gonna be a doctor. She doesn't need anybody, bro, like she doesn't need you to be the big Sean back there that's going to provide for her her life. She's going to be the doctor. I like that. You know, he comes in with that kind of mentality of like, Oh, this is like the old school like, this is the guy you're supposed to marry. This is the guy you just hook up with. But she shouldn't end up with that guy because she's actually really strong and she's kind of the one who's going to be doing things with her life and doesn't need Adam to play that role for her, right she needs more like a supportive kind of guy, not someone who's gonna take over everything.

spk_0:   13:51
I think that's really well put and leads us to a question. I think we should briefly touch on before we pivot to our second film of the conversation. And it's the question of what is this movie saying about friends with benefits or sex without commitment or fuck buddies or what have you?

spk_1:   14:08
I mean, I think both of these movies and the concept of fuck buddies in general in TV movies is that it's not really possible that it's going to either lead to disaster or like epic romance, because people are not actually able to silo their feelings in terms of like lust and love. And so it's just not possible that someone is going to cave. And I do like that. They gender flip it a little bit in this movie so that he is the one that is trying really, really hard. If she's the one who's a little bit more like cold and he's the one who's left dangling on the string most of the time, that is true. Yeah, that it's it's just not possible. It is like in your last episode when you were asking, Can a man and a woman ever be friends? I think that it's almost the exact same question with the added complication of sex like, No, you can't be friends. And no, you can't have sex without falling in love.

spk_0:   15:02
Yes, I think that's very much with this film is saying and even And even as like, an expansion on that, I think through Natalie Portman's character like, Wow, it's great that Emma is the more like the one that needs to be convinced into a relationship as opposed to every other romcom ever written. I do think it's interesting that the film assumes that either you're sort of like filled with emotion, and that is the relationship or you have no one emotion and that is the sex. And somehow there's like a very clear dividing line there that, yeah, the film simultaneously is sort of saying like okay, if you want to just have sex and you have no emotion But once you start having sex that automatically leads to a relationship, which is a sort of confusing ideology in and of itself. I think

spk_1:   15:49
yeah, and we're going to see it in the second movie, where they even they try a bit harder and they set up rule and swear on a Bible and do all these kind of things, too. Put it very much in place. But despite what you do, you can never successfully just be friends with benefits that it's gonna break in some way.

spk_0:   16:07
Well, speaking of friends with benefits made it, Let's go ahead and pivot exactly as you put it to the film of that title, Friends With Benefits 2011 which I'd like to ask a restless and say that I was absolutely upset when I realized that the movie called No Strings Attached, did not have Justin Timberlake in it, which, you know, on the 20th anniversary of the album. No strings attached. I'm very upset

spk_1:   16:30
when I think, actually, the notions attached movie was initially supposed to be called friends with benefits and then because they were putting out friends with benefits, they had to change the name to no strings attached.

spk_0:   16:40
Oh my God, that makes it even word you would

spk_1:   16:43
think that they would like, have made a choice in the board room to be like Hey, we should put Justin Timberlake in the one called knows truths that snatched

spk_0:   16:50
Justin Timberlake put us this down. He was like guys that I'm not. I'm not doing that. All right, let's go to this Justin Timberlake starring vehicle uh, from the film is called Friends With Benefits. And here is the summary. Jamie Mila Kunis is a New York based executive recruiter who entices Dylan Justin Timberlake on art director from Los Angeles to take a job at the New York office of G Q magazine, finding that they have much in common the to become fast friends. Feeling jaded by a number of broken romances, Dylan and Jamie decide that they're ready to quit looking for true love and focus on having fun. However, complications unfold in the two best pals at sex to their relationship. Maeda. That's what Google says. But what do you think this movie is really about?

spk_1:   17:33
Well, I think first of all, the bizarre thing is that it sets you up like they're going on so many dates and Onley finding garbage out there in New York City. Then they like have to. They have to, you know, turn to their friend, except you only see each of them in, like, one other relationship. So these two are not trying very hard. So that's a little bit of, ah, misinformation. They have a relationship, and they're like, Oh, that was terrible. Why don't we just have sex?

spk_0:   18:03
You're right. And once again, we have a situation where we're not looking at two people who have a long term established friendship, even though they're sort of making it seem like that. They're calling them quote unquote best pals. They're people that had a meet cute through work and then decided to start having casual sex with each other, which is a very different situation.

spk_1:   18:19
Yes. Oh, Jamie is she's a headhunter. And she finds Dylan at this like online blogger and then brings him in to be the art director for G. Q. And then he is like, Oh, show me around your because I'm new here. I'm from L. A. And she shows more in New York. They become really good friends. And I think this movie does set them up as friends first, better than the other movie. I will give it that on that they actually like Go Robin city Together, the Explorer, they get to know each other a little bit more and hang out before the inevitable conversation of I can't find anyone

spk_0:   18:53
on my mind. The way that they get started is that they're just hanging out, and they're they're not watching a romcom right? Or are. They aren't being watching that, like Fake

spk_1:   19:02
State? That's actually the best part of this whole movie. Is the fake wrong calm with Jason Siegel and Rashida Jones that is supposedly Janey's favorite movie. That she's this cool girl who, despite being like such a badass, actually love Love's wrong calms and is waiting for Prince Charming and this garbage faith romcom that they make is her favorite movie. And there's actually I feel like there's a lot better. Critiques of Rahm comes in general in the sake inner movie. Been in this friends with benefits movie.

spk_0:   19:34
That's a really good point, and I think that, like the whole problem with Mila Kunis is character. Jamie is encapsulated in the moment when they decide to start having casual sex together because, like you said, they're watching this wrong Common were led to believe that she loves this like fairy tale ending, and she's looking for her fairy tale ending. But then when they're watching the movie, her responses like, Man, I really wish that sex was like tennis, that it was just like something you could do every once in a while. And it's very confusing. It's unclear if, like what she ultimately wants is this fairy tale and a or what she ultimately wants is, like, I don't know, just tow have, like sex and intimacy. Apart from that fairy tale, it's, it doesn't quite know what to do with her as a character.

spk_1:   20:14
I feel it away. So I feel like it doesn't know what to do with Mila Kunis, his character or Justin Timberlake's character, because they set up these kind of tracks for both of these characters. But then they constantly like undercut these tracks, and I feel bad for the actors because I feel like it's very hard for them to sell it right, because Mila Kunis has to play this girl who is she is like the cool girl, right? She brings him in Virgin Q. She's a headhunter, which is like a really ambitious kind of job, and she's supposed to be this girl who's you could have casual sex with who you should go to baseball games with. You can, you know, go all over New York City. Delight, Cool parts. But at the same time, she loves romcom like the fairy tale ending. And then Justin Timberlake is supposed to be this art director who's very bad at math. But he also has these weird moments where he's supposed to be, like a kind of geeky or kind of nerdy. But he can't sell it because he's Justin Timberlake like he's a cool dude. So when he says, like, Oh, I have this little lightning bolt tattoo because I wanted to have superpowers the toy. I'm a dork. You're like No, you're not. Justin Timberlake started Justin Timberlake Stop. And then every time you talk about Harry Potter, which people problematically telling me he's gay for liking Harry Potter, Well,

spk_0:   21:32
that's a whole other.

spk_1:   21:33
All of the rampant homophobia in both of these movies have a random

spk_0:   21:38
transphobic Jos S and I could not believe Yes, it was so so necessary now that any transphobic like commentary is ever necessary. But it was especially bleeding,

spk_1:   21:47
and you're you're trying to tell me that the art director stir of G Q. Who got head hunted? Is this, like low key like nerdy, geeky character? Get out of here. Absolutely not. So they're both. They're trying to make both of them into these characters, but then at the same time, undercut it to be like, Oh, you think meal is cool. But she loves romcom all. You think Justin jubilees cool. He likes Harry Potter doing everyone likes Harry Potter's 2011.

spk_0:   22:16
Yes, I agree that I think the characterization is really confused. But one thing that I do think is really interesting about this movie in conversation with no strings attached as far as how the characters are built, is that they all of the characters in these movies, all the main characters have quote unquote messed up parent issues, right? What damage? They all have their damaged by the parents who have bad relationships. So in this case, in at least in friends of benefits, I think I think that the way that they set up the parents as bad influence was Maur interesting to me.

spk_1:   22:49
Oh, definitely. And I think like for Mila, Kunis is character for Justin Timberlake's character. They they set it up a lot nicer that they have these very complex relationships with their parents, and that's actually the better written part of the movie is their relationships with their parents. And so much so that I would have rather that this movie was about two friends that helped each other work through their issues with their parents. I was like, I don't need them to sleep with each other or fall like in love with each other. They just need to help each other with their own parent issues because, yeah, it is actually the best part of the movie was their relationships with their parents.

spk_0:   23:24
I unabashedly love Patricia Clarkson in this movie, as soon as his mother, who is a hot mess, we're led to believe that she's very, you know, sexually adventurous, and she has a lot of lovers that she goes all over the place. But she is so charming, and she's so lovely and genuinely like loves her daughter at the same time. So it's interesting how the film there's a moment where Justin Timberlake's character he is the sort of like emotional climax of the film is Dylan after he's taken Jamie home to California to meet his family. Okay, basically throws her under the bus when he thinks she's not listening and says that, you know, she's damn it. She has all these issues like I

spk_1:   24:06
can't sort out was in her head right, which I don't

spk_0:   24:09
understand it all because I don't think we've been led to believe that. She's really that Damaged like

spk_1:   24:15
we were led to believe that he really, really doesn't want his family to think that he's in a relationship. Why, I have no idea.

spk_0:   24:23
Yeah, that that circle is a little bit hard to square. But the part about the relationship falling apart that I that I did like was that I thought that the relationship between Dillon and Jamie was a little bit more realistic to me than the relationship between Adam and Emma, just because it would have a realistic level of being just genuinely confused about what you want versus what you think you're supposed to want in these situations of friends, with benefits there genuinely confused about one the status of their relationship and to what either or both of them wants out of it, which I thought was very refreshing and real

spk_1:   24:56
well, I mean, I think what's hard is that in in friends with benefits, both of them enter into this friends with benefits agreement on equal footing, right? Like when they have the scene where they swear on the Bible on the iPad and Haley And they said of all their rules for how they're going to approach this friends with benefits relationship. They're doing it on even footing. So as a concept of friends with benefits, it makes more sense. Notions attached. They enter into the agreement on uneven footing. Because I'm cultures. Character is on Li agreeing to it because he's already infatuated with Emma. So the movie never really has a relationship of friends with benefits, because if they're not entering into the agreement on equal footing, he's in love with Emma and Emma. She's found a way to kind of like floor around with him, have sex with him without having to make any kind of emotional commitment, and he's letting her because he's so desperate to be near her.

spk_0:   25:54
Okay, well, then that makes me wonder. So we've established what we think no strings attached is saying about friends of benefits. But this is, as you were saying, not exactly a true friends of benefits scenario in the film. Friends with benefits. What is that? What is this film saying about no strings attached? Slash you know, sex with your friend?

spk_1:   26:13
I think they're saying that I mean, I think it comes across is the same message. You know, I think that it's saying that like even if you both think it's going to be platonic and you enter into this on on a basis where there's essentially a contract, it's still can't work out and that it just follows the exact same pattern of many women can't be friends, and they can't have sex with each other without eventually falling for each other. And it does a better job of the characters actually, initially silo ing that relationship because when because you stopped having sex for a period of time, right, they're friends with benefits and then they cut themselves off while she tries to date someone else. It's still ends up the same way where they fall in love with each other.

spk_0:   26:53
So I think putting all these things together just to like, rounded out and talk about these films even further. A conversation with one another on it was super curious about because this issue of Like I'm damaged by my appearance trope is a thing and wrong promise, definitely. But I think it's really intriguing that it's so prominent and B's two in particular. So I want to, like, talk a little bit about Why is it that these friends with benefits movies are so tied up with? I have bad parents

spk_1:   27:21
because I think the idea is that you would on Lee want to enter into this kind of a relationship if you didn't know how to have a traditional relationship. You are only entering into this friends with benefits type of relationship because you are damaged in some way, which is kind of bizarre, like anyone who is normal quote unquote normal wouldn't want to do this because it's so bizarre. But you have to be damaged to want to separate out your sexual relationship, and you're emotional relationship because you were maybe somehow incapable of having an emotional relationship, which is

spk_0:   27:55
so infuriating because in both of these movies, I think it's actually the insertion of emotional pressure and societal pressure that messes up the kind of beautiful sort of encounters that both of these couples have. Like even though, as we've discussed and it is my problem child, no strings attached being that they started footing if they had been able to sort of lean into like Okay, well, sure, like we're on an even footing. But let's forget about the societal Prospera. Let's forget about the kind of like emotional intimacy they could. They were having a lot of fun together. And the same is true for friends of benefits. So it's interesting that the film this, the films are almost like telling us one thing and showing us another.

spk_1:   28:31
Yeah, it's it's discouraging anyone from thinking that you could have that kind of relationship, or it's saying that like, Oh, you can do it, but only for a little while because you have to follow what society tells you and eventually continue this and transform it into a traditional relationship

spk_0:   28:47
will get you.

spk_1:   28:48
Yes, this is only step one like you can't just have this kind of relationship. It has to in some point, like turn into a traditional relationship. It can't stand alone.

spk_0:   28:58
What was going on in 2011 that both of these movies were made in the same year like we were in college. Like was this the year of casual sex? Why 2011?

spk_1:   29:14
I was in a similar relationship in 2011. I don't know what people were doing. Details come out. So for me, no strings attached. Like I think I was like, very, very highly identified with this movie because I was like, Oh, yeah, like maybe maybe it was. Maybe that was just like there was something in the water where people were like, Oh, friends of benefits like we should all try it. It's a good idea, and then we all like not all of us were burned, but maybe some of us were burned by this idea. No, this is not possible. So we liked having movies because oftentimes in these type of relationships, someone gets hurt, right? And we see it in notions attached that Adam gets really hurt by it. And that's his own damn fault because he interesting she was relationship, knowing that he's actually in love with this girl, and he shouldn't just be casual sex buddies with her, so he gets burned. And so I think like these movies for people who have gotten burned by the ritual, eight relationships are somewhat comforting to be like, Oh, this doesn't work anyway. It's a flawed system.

spk_0:   30:15
Yeah, like it didn't work out because not because there was something wrong with me here with my partner. It was because, yeah, this is just it's doomed. It's doomed from the start and a beautiful romantic and sometimes infuriating way.

spk_1:   30:26
Well, yeah, I mean, it's beautiful movies made for people in their early twenties or college age. Like I would say that that is the audience to these movies of people who don't know what they want, who haven't figured it out yet and are still struggling It's not for and I think that's why I like When I was in college and I saw these movies, I had a much more fond memory, and when I watched them now I was slightly embarrassed by how much I had like these movies when I was e.

spk_0:   30:53
I just want to take a second. To say the period scene in no strings attached is one of the most bonkers things I have ever seen for people who haven't seen it. Her Natalie Portman's characters entire apartment gets sync up on their periods and acts like they've never had periods before and seem like they're all dying. Which is quite funny to watch, because it's Mindy Kaling, Greta Gerwig and Natalie Portman doing it. But I was losing my mind

spk_1:   31:18
well, so once again, there must've been something in the water in 2011 because I remember this being like I thought it was the funniest scene when I was in college and I saw this movie mostly because, like, I can imagine your girlfriends and you just commiserating over all being on your period at the same time and just acting ridiculous like you had been shot or something just because it was really fun. But I also feel like having ashen could use characters show up with chocolate was supposed to be this, like, grand romantic kind of gesture because it was a man who is not grossed out or anything about a woman being on her period. And I remember this moment in time having very similar experiences in college where men were suddenly like, No, we're really supportive about you being on your period like till we get you chocolate. Do you need a heating pad? Like I don't know if there was an article in G Q. Or if there's an article in men's health that was like men being scared of period is is outdated. Now you must be supportive of women and their menstrual cycles. So maybe that this was just part of the moment that it was very romantic for him to be understanding and also bring them cupcakes.

spk_0:   32:34
You know what? You may well be right. I think it's just my jaded 2020 eyes that were like, Oh, my God, Get out of here! What do you want? Your mail? Feminists Banner

spk_1:   32:43
Walk away. 2020 20. The bar is hell. You know, this'll is like, What are you doing? But for 2011 this was, like, very advanced for a white man. White straight

spk_0:   32:57
man. That's a grand romantic gesture. And the no strings attached. Right? So how does that compare to the grand romantic gesture and friends with benefits, You think or any

spk_1:   33:08
last knobs? I hate the Flash Mob e eight. The flash mob once again, very much of its time. So

spk_0:   33:17
So 2011. My

spk_1:   33:18
so too does love it like and also a little bit old in 2011 like it was definitely on the downswing of flash mobs being cool. I don't know how long the production time took on this movie, but I remember seeing the movie and being like Basil outdated at this point, right? Yeah, I get it like the planning is great and it's in Grand Central Station or whatever, but it's just it's so public. I'm not a fan of it. I'm sure other people are. And if you're supposed to be like her and you love these wrong columns that have, like big room it a public romantic gestures, I guess it's nice. But I definitely prefer the notions attached like it's just about you and your friends and not about like making hullabaloo in Grand Central Station. So

spk_0:   33:59
I think I like I'm so in love now, but not in, and maybe a totally positive way, with the fact that both of these movies were so zeitgeist see at the time. There big romantic like gesture scenes are also super psych. I see. I think that that's hilarious, like how funny and how telling about the whole friends with benefits, uh, moment in our popular culture because now I feel like with hook up app. So I mean, the notion of friends with benefits is so common that it's hardly even worth talking about.

spk_1:   34:26
Yeah, although I wonder if, like, the front, I mean, I think the friends aspect is the part where it really just falls down because they're not really friends. So yeah, I think what the abs you're gonna see a totally different ah set of Rome comes based around that which wouldn't make sense for these movies at all. So those movies really are a fantastic snapshot of 2011.

spk_0:   34:45
Yeah, What I do all of these wrong comes pre, Let's say, 2015 have tohave like gay accessories. Like

spk_1:   34:54
I feel like they thought they were being so subversive and so like cool. Because both of the gay friend characters are not your stereotypes of the early 2000 right? Because in a notions attached one of the med students, he's like this like, you know, bigger guy. Um, who's a med student? He's not slam boy in any way. Really in ah, friends with benefits. It's Woody Harrelson for the Love of God, like Weiss. Hey, who told Woody? Harold said that he should be playing a gay man.

spk_0:   35:30
I was at a loss for words when that came about. I was in a full loss for words. When

spk_1:   35:35
I don't know what to do with it, I had totally erase that from my memory. I had completely forgotten because it was so bizarre. And who made that casting choice? Yeah, but it was both like to to non stereotypical or non at that point, traditional representation of gay men, which I think they thought was really progressive and forward. But now, in hindsight, is extremely strange and problematic in its own way the way that they represent these characters.

spk_0:   36:05
So exactly. And I hope that someone, somewhere, has done like an entire book length study about why Rahm cons that are not about queer nus want tohave queerness at least associated with the movie as some sort of sign off on the lake. I don't know the sexuality or the romance of the subversiveness of the film. It's very, very weird because none of these films are actually interested in queer sexuality in a real way, except for that's a photo shoot scene and friends with benefits where Woody Harrelson is just, like, full on, like displaying some, uh, man loving man sexuality. But even then, it's not really, like, pure. It's a joke.

spk_1:   36:43
Yeah, it's being as being somewhat exploitative of the male models and all of his jokes air. It's bizarre because they're kind of at the expense of gay men. But because it's being said by a gate character is supposed to be okay, except that you know that the actor playing the character is straight. So you're not really getting away with everything you think you're getting away with it.

spk_0:   37:01
I mean, just a pitch to the world. I don't know if this movie has already been written, but someone should really write a romcom called Friends with benefits. But it should be about men who have sex with men. I would watch that movie because I think that there's a much more interesting history like romantic history in the queer community of that, and I think it would be really interesting. So somebody out there who have been right, maybe Greta Gerwig. Yeah, fine. I'm just someone telling writers like there's

spk_1:   37:25
already a movie like that. Or maybe there's already

spk_0:   37:27
someone knows is a movie like that. Let us know if there's a friends with benefits movie about the queer community, like hit us up. Let us know. Final question. Uh, which of these couples do we think has the best chemistry? Who would you say?

spk_1:   37:40
Okay, so I personally, I'm just not a big fan of Justin Timberlake, Not not just not because I don't like him or anything. I just I don't think he's that attractive. I'm not attracted to him in any way. But he and miracles, I think, because the relationship at the top is so business like and they are friends, it's harder to see the chemistry between them. Whereas I think that Ashton Kutcher plays this like a lovesick puppy character. So much better. And so you do see at least some sort of chemistry between him and Natalie Portman. I wouldn't say that like either of them are like on fire either of these couples, but I think that there's a little bit more connection between Ashton Kutcher, Natalie Portman. I think I'm

spk_0:   38:20
gonna cheat on this question and say that, like in terms of onscreen chemistry, just in general, I think Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake work better together. His actors, like their comedic timing, is really good. They understand each other. They could sort of be at the same level. But I understand that. I think there is a little bit more Frisian, um that, you know, in define herbal thing between Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. But I just I don't know. There's something about their relationship together on screen that didn't feel rial to me, which is super interesting, although they did have that sort of traditional. I think you like you said, like stars in their eyes like romantic, like sizzle. You know,

spk_1:   38:59
in terms of like the traditional romcom, they kind of fit that relationship better. Where is we never really got to see Justin, Jim, like Mila Kunis have that like moment of really being romantically attracted to each other and very, very end. So to build up came really, really late in the movie, as opposed to it because they are standing was almost like it was hard to balance it because they wanted to establish them being friends so much that we didn't actually get any romance until the very end of the movie. Well, way may not

spk_0:   39:31
be able to say that these movies are entirely poisonous. They have their upside. But I still think we need some antidotes for this very, maybe anti sex, maybe anti casual sex film. What? What are your antidotes for? No strings attached and friends with benefits made A

spk_1:   39:48
Okay, so I have two antidotes, one for each. So Notions Attaches, written by Elizabeth Merryweather of New Girl Fame on I very much think that you can tell that this movie was written by a woman, mostly because Adam suffers a lot. But in the faculty, the male part of the relationship is the one that has to suffer through most of the movie, I think is very telling. But so my antidote for this would be a new girl now, and I think what's nice about notions attaches that there, even though their side characters there are a lot more people of color in no strings attached, then even show up at all in fronts with benefits, as if you're looking for something with like a really awesome ensemble cast that shows of lots of different relationships, I would suggest New Girl, still not great with, like, gay relationships. They really don't show up a new girl, but at an antidote to friends of our new notions attached to the first project. I think New Girl six is a lot of things that she was kind of working through for friends with benefits just because I love the relationships with their parents. And I thought that was the superior part of the movie. I'm gonna go totally in a different direction and say Watch, Whip it. It's a Drew Barrymore movie with Ellen Page, and I think I actually has some sure, some actors from one of the movies, But I need the relationship between Ellen Page and her mother in the movie is really amazing and kind of mirrors. The relationship between Patricia Clarkson and Neela Kunis is character, not in the same way, but it's a really lovely mother daughter relationship.

spk_0:   41:20
My antidote for both of these films is actually just one book on It's a It's a book that I really fall in love with when I read it last year. It's called Patients by John Coates and is published by the lovely Perception E Books in London Patients is about a young Catholic woman in the 19 fifties. Uh, who's married to this man, Um, who she gave three Children, two. And now their sex life has basically died, and he was never really a very sexual person. But because she's very devoutly Catholic, she sort of, you know, let's that part of herself go and and calls it a day. But then she meets this man named Phillip and she said, Sorta falls into his arms immediately because he's so charming. He's so thoughtfully so caring. They go back to his flat, and even though she's married and they both know it's wrong and she's a very devout Catholic, they have sex, and she has an orgasm for the first time. And what's beautiful about this is that they actually say to each other, We're not gonna be friends with benefits. We're not gonna be sort of this lease on affair. The unfolding of the book after that is really the story where it's her sort of working through, like this is what I want. This is what I demand for life, and my partner and I have the same watts, the same needs. We've discussed it and we're just gonna freaking do it. And it's her and her partner negotiating with the world about how to make that life work for them. And I just love that these two characters are being communicative. They know what they want and they are committing to it. And I just think that that is what you need after watching these movies, people who know what they want.

spk_1:   42:51
Yeah, I think no one in this movie knows what they want until maybe maybe the very, very end if stat.

spk_0:   42:58
Yeah, it's sort of it's certain infuriating. But also I can't decide if I hate it or if I think like I hate it, because I feel so called out by it. Um made a I think we have come to the end of our epic Friends of benefits showed up. We are friends there. No benefits except for the benefits of you being on this podcast. So that's good. I'm happy. I'm happy to be in that state. Thank you for listening to the Romcom killjoys podcast. The show was produced by Liza Bertrand being General Walker, our peace, his Lady slut and chai club by the band A giant dog on the song you're listening to now is a cover one of my favorites, baby Love by Colin Likeness. You could follow the show on Instagram and Facebook at Romcom Kill Joyce. And don't forget Don't let anyone kill your joy. Not me, not a romcom, Not anyone. See you next time. Thank you.