Talking about your ex to anyone who’ll listen and casually going to a place they frequent just so you can “accidentally” run into them. Dancing around your apartment like no one’s watching. Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. Looking at your life and wondering if things are ever going to get better.
Almost every twenty-something-year-old can relate to doing these things at some point. And that's exactly why Netflix original film The Incredible Jessica James is well...incredible when it comes to capturing what it's like to be a millennial.
I’ve watched over 500+ films in my life (and that doesn’t even include cartoons or Lifetime movies) and never have a seen a rom-com featuring a quirky, black girl. So, when I heard about this new movie on Netflix I eagerly scheduled a “chill” session with myself to see what it had to offer: And let me say that I was completely blown away.
Full transparency: This chill session happened to occur at work. Fight me. Sometimes I need a break from working. Nonetheless, my cubicle partner can attest to just how much I smiled and laughed at my iPhone for that 85 minutes. Hopefully she didn't see me tear up, because Lord knows I did that too.
Full of dry humor and tons of “dope” references, it stars actress and comedian Jessica Williams, as the titular character Jessica James, a 25-year-old aspiring playwright who lives “deep, deep, deep in Bushwick” and has just returned to the dating scene after having her heart broken by Damon (Lakeith Stanfield). To kick her blues, her sassy/aspiring actress best friend Tasha (Noël Wells) hooks her up with Boone (Chris O’Dowd,) a sad divorcé who is as unsure about getting back into the dating game as she is.
While it did have some cliche rom-com moments, Jessica James never wallows over love, and neither does Jessica. I loved that the film's focus wasn’t solely on her relationship status, but more about how she balances being a struggling (i.e. failing in her mind) playwright and still putting on a brave and encouraging face for the kids she works with at her nonprofit children's theater job.
That alone made this film worth watching. So many twenty-somethings like myself have this "ticking clock" syndrome where we feel like we're not accomplishing things fast enough for our age. And social media doesn't always make things better. Let's be honest. It actually makes the jealousy worse, unfortunately. Then when we least expect it we meet someone who lets us know that everything is going to be okay. Just ask Jessica.
Towards the end of the film, when she takes the children from her theater class on a writers’ weekend, she finally encounters her idol (actual playwright Sarah Jones!) and what she tells Jessica next about how to know when you've "made it" forever changes her career trajectory (for the better).
I won't spoil it, but Sarah's words on finding and doing what you love really hit home for me and reminded me to take a breather. Life isn't going anywhere and that success isn't rooted only in awards.
Point blank: Jessica’s confidence in the face of a world that seems determined to beat her down is her defining characteristic, and Williams conveys it beautifully in her performance. Her fun dance sequences, the complicated relationship with her traditional suburban Ohio family, that kickass purple jumpsuit and hilarious daydreams about her ex, make this Netflix original a winner.
The best line? When Boone tells her that he really likes her. Her response: “Of course you [like me]. Everybody does. I’m freaking dope.” <---More leading ladies with confidence like this, please!
Take my word for it and go see how dope she really is.
'The Incredible Jessica James' is currently streaming on Netflix.
Photo Courtesy of Netflix