It was your average summertime Friday night, when a lack of money and available activities led to another sweat-band-hair-tie-chillin-with-no-makeup-on movie night. After scanning through the available selections, my friends and I decided on “The To Do List”  the “Valentines Day”-esque movie, that seemed to feature a character from almost every single Emmy-nominated TV series. The Comedy stars Parks and Recs’ Aubrey Plaza, alongside “The OC” and “Heart of Dixie” starlet Rachel Billson, Nashville and Friday Night Lights’ Connie Britton, the “Friday Night Lights” and “Heart of Dixie” star Scott Porter, SNL’s Bill Hader and Andy Samberg, and the “Superbad” phenominon McLovin (or his less known alias, Christopher Mintz –Plasse). Despite my love for this name-stacked cast, I couldn’t help but expect another gung ho, stupid-funny, perverted adolescent boyhood fantasy-type film with an erratic storyline, meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator. But to my complete and utter surprise, “The To Do List,” whether intentionally or unintentionally, was the most female positive, dare I say, feminist (gasp!), comedy I have seen in quite a while.

Aubrey Plaza plays the overachieving, goody-two-shoes, Brandy Klark, introduced right off the bat as the high school Valedictorian, class of 1993, with the “highest GPA in the school’s history,” and a full scholarship to Georgetown. She begins her speech with a quote from her idol, Hilary Clinton, before being interrupted by a “girl heckler” (Officer Fischer from OITNB) who shouts, “Get off the stage virgin!” Post graduation, Aubrey’s two gal-friends (Sarah Steele, and Alia Shawkat) trick her into ditching her church “party” for a legitimate high school rave, complete with beer guzzling keg-heads, mystery liquor–filled Poland Spring bottles, and the guitar strumming mega hottie Rusty Waters (Scott Porter). It was lust at first sight for Brandy, and after a awkward almost-hookup, she decided that there was one college department that high school had not fully prepared her for, sex.  But Brandy knew there was no academic challenge too tumultuous for her to handle, and she was determined to tackle her present struggles as she would any intellectual quandary: with plenty of research. After gathering as much information as she could from her sexually experienced sister (Rachel Billson) and friends, Brandy came up with a list of all of the X-rated acts she wanted to accomplish before college, the last and most paramount being: to lose her virginity to the infamous Rusty Waters.

 

In a world filled with slut-shaming, depictions of overemotional girlfriends and a ridiculous obsession with female chastity, I found this movie unbelievably refreshing. “The To Do List” challenges the concept that girls and guys have different emotional reactions to sex, and it completely reverses the stereotypical gender roles so common in movies, namely that men are players and women are prey to their sexual urges.

I've always rejected the concept that evolution has given men the need to “spread their seed,” and women the urge to “settle down.” This is one of the few comedies about sex that refuses to feed this idea. After Brandy completes her list, she doesn't feel broken, incomplete, dirty, or ashamed, but rather more sexually-empowered and confident. She becomes a more appealing and complete character, an outcome rarely seen in films that depict coming-of-age female sexuality. There is even a refreshing take on Gloria Steinem's “you're either a virgin or a whore,” with the the women proclaiming that, "one of those sound way more fun than the other."

 

After I researched Maggie Carey, the screenwriter and director, it seemed like “The To Do List,” was actually not meant to be any sort of feminist commentary, but rather, a fun, funny film based lightly on Carey’s own experience as an adolescent in the '90s. It’s interesting how such themes could emerge unintentionally, simply because the writer happens to be female. In my opinion, this reaffirms the idea that many of the sexist themes found in the movie industry result from the socio-cultural limitations and biases of patriarchy.  If anything, this movie has illuminated the gaping demographic hole in the comedy world, and reinforced the dire need for more female screenwriters to infiltrate the industry. 


Pics Via Refinery29funcheap, rottentomatoes, and cleveland

It was your average summertime Friday night, when a lack of money and available activities led to another sweat-band-hair-tie-chillin-with-no-makeup-on movie night. After scanning through the available selections, my friends and I decided on “The To Do List”  the “Valentines Day”-esque movie, that seemed to feature a character from almost every single Emmy-nominated TV series. The Comedy stars Parks and Recs’ Aubrey Plaza, alongside “The OC” and “Heart of Dixie” starlet Rachel Billson, Nashville and Friday Night Lights’ Connie Britton, the “Friday Night Lights” and “Heart of Dixie” star Scott Porter, SNL’s Bill Hader and Andy Samberg, and the “Superbad” phenominon McLovin (or his less known alias, Christopher Mintz –Plasse). Despite my love for this name-stacked cast, I couldn’t help but expect another gung ho, stupid-funny, perverted adolescent boyhood fantasy-type film with an erratic storyline, meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator. But to my complete and utter surprise, “The To Do List,” whether intentionally or unintentionally, was the most female positive, dare I say, feminist (gasp!), comedy I have seen in quite a while.

Aubrey Plaza plays the overachieving, goody-two-shoes, Brandy Klark, introduced right off the bat as the high school Valedictorian, class of 1993, with the “highest GPA in the school’s history,” and a full scholarship to Georgetown. She begins her speech with a quote from her idol, Hilary Clinton, before being interrupted by a “girl heckler” (Officer Fischer from OITNB) who shouts, “Get off the stage virgin!” Post graduation, Aubrey’s two gal-friends (Sarah Steele, and Alia Shawkat) trick her into ditching her church “party” for a legitimate high school rave, complete with beer guzzling keg-heads, mystery liquor–filled Poland Spring bottles, and the guitar strumming mega hottie Rusty Waters (Scott Porter). It was lust at first sight for Brandy, and after a awkward almost-hookup, she decided that there was one college department that high school had not fully prepared her for, sex.  But Brandy knew there was no academic challenge too tumultuous for her to handle, and she was determined to tackle her present struggles as she would any intellectual quandary: with plenty of research. After gathering as much information as she could from her sexually experienced sister (Rachel Billson) and friends, Brandy came up with a list of all of the X-rated acts she wanted to accomplish before college, the last and most paramount being: to lose her virginity to the infamous Rusty Waters.

 

In a world filled with slut-shaming, depictions of overemotional girlfriends and a ridiculous obsession with female chastity, I found this movie unbelievably refreshing. “The To Do List” challenges the concept that girls and guys have different emotional reactions to sex, and it completely reverses the stereotypical gender roles so common in movies, namely that men are players and women are prey to their sexual urges.

I've always rejected the concept that evolution has given men the need to “spread their seed,” and women the urge to “settle down.” This is one of the few comedies about sex that refuses to feed this idea. After Brandy completes her list, she doesn't feel broken, incomplete, dirty, or ashamed, but rather more sexually-empowered and confident. She becomes a more appealing and complete character, an outcome rarely seen in films that depict coming-of-age female sexuality. There is even a refreshing take on Gloria Steinem's “you're either a virgin or a whore,” with the the women proclaiming that, "one of those sound way more fun than the other."

 

After I researched Maggie Carey, the screenwriter and director, it seemed like “The To Do List,” was actually not meant to be any sort of feminist commentary, but rather, a fun, funny film based lightly on Carey’s own experience as an adolescent in the '90s. It’s interesting how such themes could emerge unintentionally, simply because the writer happens to be female. In my opinion, this reaffirms the idea that many of the sexist themes found in the movie industry result from the socio-cultural limitations and biases of patriarchy.  If anything, this movie has illuminated the gaping demographic hole in the comedy world, and reinforced the dire need for more female screenwriters to infiltrate the industry. 


Pics Via Refinery29funcheap, rottentomatoes, and cleveland

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Tagged in: women in hollywood, the to do list, slut shaming, sexual empowerment, scott porter, rachel bilson, maggie carey, girls in movies, feminism, female directors, connie britton, christopher mintz-plasse, bill hader, aubrey plaza, Andy Samberg   

The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.


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