I was minding my business on Twitter as usual last night and then stopped dead in my scroll...what was this now...was someone tweeting about the 2019 Netflix movie Someone Great???
Yes, Keegan from Camp Trash brought up one of my favorite, deeply confusing music movie moments ever and I was thrilled. Sometimes I feel like no one else saw that movie but me, even though I'm sure many Netflix subscribers have. Someone Great might be the most millennial movie. It probably needs to be in the Library of Congress. It came out in April 2019, an artifact from "the before times," and it celebrates the exact kind of people who would call it "the before times" (or who call the pandemic "the Panera", etc.). It represents a Buzzfeed of the mind and a Spotify Indie Dance playlist of the soul. It has the perfect soundtrack: a soundtrack that knows it wants to be the perfect soundtrack, with each needle drop stabbing the heart of the kind of person who has watched the Mitski "Drunk Walk Home" screaming compilation multiple times.
So after seeing that tweet and feeling validated in my beliefs, I smoked a joint and liveblogged a rewatch of Someone Great, which I had not seen since it came out. Let's go.
First of all, it's 2019, the most bisexually lit year in film history. Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) is a music writer who just got her dream job, writing for Rolling Stone. The only catch? She has to move to San Francisco for the job. Never mind that Rolling Stone has not had their office in San Francisco since the Grateful Dead played at Cornell. It's happening. The looming long-distance relationship proves to be too much for Nate (LaKeith Stanfield), Jenny's boyfriend of nine years, and he dumps her a week before she's supposed to leave. Jenny rallies her besties — Blair (Brittany Snow), who is perky and in a boring relationship, and Erin (DeWanda Wise), who is sardonic and afraid of commitment — for one last hurrah. That's the plot of the movie. Don't stress too much about it, I'm not.
We begin with "Int'l Player's Anthem" by UGK. You know there is going to be taste involved in this movie because everyone loves that song. It's illegal not to.
There's a flashback where our main characters have just left a (fictional) music festival called the Neon Classic. They are at a neon-lit dive bar, raving about seeing the Postal Service at the festival — they refer to the band as simply "Postal Service" — and say that "that dude" from the Postal Service looks like someone put glasses on a slice of Wonder Bread. Not three minutes into the movie and Ben Gibbard is catching strays. Jimmy Tamborello doesn't wear glasses. It's 2011 at this point, and if this were real 2011, the Postal Service wouldn't get together til the Give Up 10-year anniversary tour two years later, but WHO CARES? Sometimes movies are about vibes, not facts.
A montage of Jenny and Nate's relationship in the form of iMessages, Facebook messages, Facebook statuses, and profile pictures runs under "Supercut" by Lorde. The lost single. The hit that never was. This movie serves as "Supercut"s music video, I guess. I wonder if "Supercut" will ever get the "Cruel Summer" treatment and become an extremely late chart phenomenon. You know Jack Antonoff has called Lorde about it, forgetting the time zone difference between New Jersey and New Zealand entirely.
In this montage, there's a quick scroll through Jenny's 4 year anniversary playlist, which features "Hold On We're Going Home," "Shooting Stars" by Bag Raiders (recently interpolated by Troye Sivan!) and..."Don't Wait" by Mapei?? Jesus, I loved that song. There's also a screenshot of a text where Jenny tells Nate she got a column at Complex...in a different world, Jenny might have hung in there and become the host of Hot Ones.
Now we're in the present day. We see Erin being noncommittal and Blair being annoyed by her boyfriend and we also get some instrumental "Motion Sickness" by Phoebe Bridgers. One of her most epic songs for sure. At the time this movie came out, Jenny probably would have had to aggregate some news about "Motion Sickness" song subject Ryan Adams for Complex.
Then Jenny tells her friends about the breakup, and also that there is a special Neon Classic "pop-up show" that night, and they should all go. Can I tell you something? The concept of a "pop-up show" has never set right with me. I know you need to do shit like that for hype's sake. But it stresses me out so bad. What do you mean, "pop-up show"? What happened to "sensibly buying tickets for something three months in advance and gradually building up excitement for it"? I guess I'm still scarred from the time in 2013 when I went to an alt lit bookstore in Bushwick by myself with a six-pack of Budweisers because word was getting around that Kanye West was going to be there. He did not show.
2019 is peak bisexual lighting time and also peak neon sign time. Jenny has one that says "k bye..." Blair has one that says "DO WHAT YOU LOVE." The girlboss aesthetics are pointed enough that it has to be somewhat self-aware. Erin is Juuling. Has there been a lot of cinematic vaping before 2019? It reached its mimetic peak with Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown. Remember Mare of Easttown?
Oh shit, and now "Truth Hurts" is playing as diegetic music. They're dancing to it in Jenny's apartment. This movie really put the song on the map and the song really put Lizzo on the map. Apparently TikTok helped as well, but for me personally, the first time I heard "Truth Hurts" was in the trailer for the movie. "I just took a DNA test, turns out / I'm 100% that bitch" really rocked a lot of people's worlds. 2019 feels like 25 years ago in some ways. The Wing was thriving. Everyone was hopping around the city in their Outdoor Voices Exercise Dresses, lining up at Glossier. Lizzo was the Last Girlboss, the final one before we all went Indoors and all the girls started fighting (call it cancelle culture). I don't think we'd have Lizzo without Netflix's Someone Great (2019). Put that in your vape and vape it.
(Apparently Taylor Swift was inspired to write "Death By A Thousand Cuts" because she watched Someone Great? Which was itself inspired by Swift's 1989 album? There's a reason this movie feels so...molten. It's like watching a millennial blade, forged and quenched in the span of 90 minutes.)
"Truth Hurts" gets cut off by Vampire Weekend's "Mansard Roof" for no reason other than to facilitate a flashback to a pink neon-lit college party where everyone's wearing ugly Christmas sweaters. They have slapped some bangs on Gina Rodriguez, the classic "make her look like she's in college" maneuver (also why I got bangs again). LaKeith Stanfield is illegally hot. Next, a falling in lust montage set to "Saturdays" by Twin Shadow feat. Haim. It's good, it's fine, but I might have gone with "Five Seconds" instead. That's song is sexy as hell. Just sayin'. Backseat music supervision.
The girls need some MOLLY for the Neon Classic pop-up show. See, this is why pop-up shows stress me out. All of a sudden they have to ditch work, find tickets for the show, do a same-day, different-borough drug run, and get cute outfits. It's too much stress. They hit the streets. Erin is wearing a shirt that says SISTER RESISTER in the shape of a circle. Jenny is wearing a shirt that says "LATINA AF." Blair, the only white lady among them, wears a plain gray sweater. Where the hell is her message clothing? Once I walked by a boutique in Park Slope that had a t-shirt in the front that said DISSIDENT across the chest.
We get a double dose of Phoebe Bridgers! Hit us with a little "Scott Street." Just the instrumental...can't hear Phoeb singing about Los Angeles in this New York movie.
Someone has offered the girls Neon Classic tickets for $500 (each?) and Jenny will use some of her job-relocation money to buy the tickets. It's at this point that the movie turns into something that interests me personally: a millennial bender. It's an elegant bender. The girls are now constantly taking pulls of tequila straight from the bottle and smoking joints like they're Lady Fair cigarettes. The person offering the tickets turns out to be a young hypebeast played by Jaboukie Young-White, who is resplendent in a Huf sweatshirt and darting around a large loft apartment on a hoverboard. This is the best part of the movie, just letting Jaboukie rip. He offers the girls weed: "This is deadass the best weed in the game. I got this from Mike Dean's dude." MIKE DEAN! "I'm drinking this expensive-ass tequila, but you gotta douse this shit in Sprite because it lowkey tastes like booty. No offense to the ass-eating community." Jaboukie asks everyone what their Hogwarts house is. This movie knows what a millennial is.
Anyway, he doesn't have the tickets, so uptight, boring-relationship Blair goes and bangs a guy who has tickets. She's fucking the ticket man for tickets.
They then go and purchase their molly from a drug dealer named Hype, played by Rupaul, who looks stunning. Hype knows they're going to the Neon Classic, because "a lotta people been through here today." I'm trying to think of a New York event that would move the needle on individual drug dealer product motion. Gov Ball, maybe?
Flashback to a fight between Jenny and Nate that portends their end, followed by a sex scene to "Your Best American Girl" by Mitski. Holy magoley. Though this is an earlyish Mitski needle drop, especially considering how much she blew up during the pandemic, it appears Billions beat Someone Great to the punch with a "Your Best American Girl" sync...and apparently Knife Party and Fucked Up were on the same episode...does Billions have a gnarly music supervisor? Do I need to start watching Billions?
We make it back to Jenny's apartment. She has a J Dilla Donuts poster, a Father John Misty poster, and a bunch of over-ear headphones strung up on a clothesline. The Music Enjoyer has logged on. Everyone naps and then they wake up and start pregaming. The millennial bender continues: shots of tequila artfully placed near cans of Lacroix. They put on their "Bitches and Bangers" playlist from college and start getting dressed to "The Jump Off" by Lil Kim, a song so very good and so very 2003 that I just KNOW someone like Coi Leray is inevitably going to jack it and do something unspeakable to it.
There is a Diet Coke-themed reverie in the bodega to the tune of "Dreaming of You" by Selena, and then the molly goes down the hatch. They really must trust their dealer because I did not see a fentanyl strip or reagent test kit in sight. Be careful girls!!
"Karaoke" by Big Freedia feat. Lizzo. I saw Big Freedia at Riot Fest and it was one of the wildest hours I have experienced in music. Dazed rockers, twerking involuntary in the hot Chicago sun. And Lizzo, once again. This movie is half Lizzo and half Phoebe Bridgers. It's a Lizzo sun and Phoebe Bridgers moon. And Ravenclaw rising. And Pamplemousse Lacroix in Venus.
The Neon Classic, a fake music concert that everyone and their mom wants to attend, is occurring in the Sony Theater, which is a real place. It's in Midtown and the capacity is a thousand. How many of these thousand people went to Rupaul to buy drugs? Everyone must be zooted. There's a neon sign at the entrance that says "Where are your friends tonight?" The writer-director of Someone Great, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, wasn't able to get any LCD Soundsystem music cleared for the film; according to Rolling Stone (the real publication, not the fictional San Francisco version), the original script was written in 2015 and centered around a fictional LCD Soundsystem reunion, which of course ended up actually [this is] happening. I hope James Murphy lets Jennifer Kaytin Robinson use an LCD song someday, as a treat.
Half the Neon Classic attendees are wearing brunch hats. Questlove is DJing because he always is DJing in New York City. I treasure my memory of going to a party that celebrated a new type of Acura vehicle, in a big white box of an event venue on the west side, Questlove DJing, premium open bar, checking my iPhone 4 constantly for updates on the Boston bombing lockdown. Later that night, I hung out with my Craiglist roommate Pete and we went on our roof and yelled at people who walked by, for no reason. Those were the days.
Jessie Reyez is now onstage, performing the song "DOPE", which was unreleased at the time. This is fresh music. You cannot get music fresher than this. Jenny says "I think I'm feelin this molly, y'all" and does a body roll. This is where I complain that there are actually very few movies that portray people on MDMA with just the right nuance. There's a particular kind of molly affect — a specific sort of pressured speech, a vigorous jaw-monching, a lot of enthusiastic nodding? — that I've only seen nailed in one movie, which is The Anniversary Party (2001), written and directed by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming. You must, MUST, watch The Anniversary Party (2001).
One thing Someone Great did do is predict the wave of people holding up big text on their phones. We went to a club in Barcelona on our honeymoon and there was a guy holding up a phone that said COCAINE. Wow!
Then we get a dramatic scene set to another Jessie Reyez song, "Great One." Jenny sees Nate but cannot bring herself to talk to him. The relationship is totally over but I understand getting hung up on LaKeith Stanfield. Then the friends start fighting, which is something I have seen happen on molly 0.00 times in my life. Did they get a bad batch? Honestly, if it was working as expected, she would have taken a look at Nate and little bokeh hearts would appear around his silhouette and she'd be all "Don't worry about the Rolling Stone gig, I'll stay here and start my OWN music blog," and then later everyone in her friend group would go around in a circle and say what they loved about each other in great detail.
Then everyone goes to the afters, whose exterior looks like House of Yes and whose interior looks like...I don't know, the Box??? and the song "Missing U" by Robyn is playing. "Missing U" is the thinking woman's "Dancing On My Own." Lol now I'm just saying shit to say shit.
"Blah blah blah" is what I have written next. Will they or won't they get back together? Jenny is back in Washington Square Park. Is that the Frank Ocean "Moon River"? My cousin and his wife had their wedding first dance to that song. It was so beautiful. Jenny is not going to beg Nate for another chance. She is a 30 year old woman who seemingly knows no one in San Francisco, is moving for a media job, in 2019, and has spent all of her relocation money on tickets to see a Jessie Reyez concert that she did not appear to enjoy very much.
This is where "Someone Great" the song would actually roll to close things out, but instead we have a fairly normal piano-EDM song, "Call On Me (Ryan Riback remix)" by Starley. Honestly it's for the best that the LCD sync never came through. I love "Someone Great" but I can never quite shake that James Murphy wrote that song about his therapist passing away.
I just took a DNA test, turns out, I'm 100% stoned. Good night and good luck.
Thanks for reading almost 3,000 words on a Netflix movie from 2019, I love you. If you love I Enjoy Music, tell a friend about it! ienjoymusic.net baby