So the ad for this movie popped up on my Netflix homepage, and as soon as I saw the words “music journalist” in the summary, I thought: oh, boy. This oughta be good. Not as in, “This is going to be a good movie,” but as in, “Is this going to be the kind of movie where she’s a music journalist but makes enough money to live in a big apartment in New York without roommates, and she gets free tickets to shows all the time, and she goes to those shows and dances and does molly and is never actually depicted onscreen writing a single word?” Reader, spoiler alert: yeah, it was exactly that kind of movie. With a side of “straight white screenwriter who’s never met a gay person and has the Black Best Friend say, ‘Yes, queen’ out loud.”
Anyway, it’s pedantic fact-check time. Here we go.
At the beginning of the movie, in a flashback to the year 2011, Gina Rodriguez and her boyfriend Lakeith Stanfield attend a show at which ASAP Rocky and The Postal Service both perform. ASAP Rocky didn’t begin touring until 2012, and The Postal Service didn’t tour at all in 2011, given that they were effectively on hiatus from 2004 to 2012.
I am 99.9% sure that no one in the history of the world has ever referred to them as “Postal Service.”
I am 100% sure that no one in the history of the world has ever referred to Ben Gibbard as “that dude from Postal Service.”
*Abbi from Broad City saying “a bunch…a bunch of hot dogs?” voice* A column… a column at Complex?
Okay: a new Vince Staples video dropping in 2017, check; a new Robyn song appearing on GIRLS in 2017, check; a journalist writing a piece on A$AP (presumably Rocky) in 2017, plausible; new Migos dropping in 2017, check; a Billie Eilish show in 2017, also check. All of this checks out.
Not making it to the drinks thing because you’re on deadline… checks out.
Also, listening to “Supercut” while miserably reflecting on your digital memories of the person you loved… checks out hard.
THE LITERAL ENTIRE PREMISE OF THIS FILM IS THAT SHE GETS A JOB AT ROLLING STONE SO SHE HAS TO MOVE TO SAN FRANCISCO BUT ROLLING STONE MOVED FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO NEW YORK IN 1976! ROLLING STONE LEGIT HASN’T BEEN BASED IN SAN FRANCISCO IN 43 YEARS!!!!! WHAT’S WITH THE FASTIDIOUS ATTENTION TO DETAIL ON NANO-SECOND-LONG SCREENSHOTS OF GMAIL INBOXES BUT NOT BEING ABLE TO LOOK UP THE CURRENT ADDRESS OF ROLLING STONE LFAKJSDLKFSADLK
I mean, Sony Hall isn’t exactly Complex/Rolling Stone writer hang-out territory, but I guess theoretically this could happen, so we’ll let it slide.
Also, not pictured, but Motion Sickness is playing in the background of this scene, a highly appropriate score for the morning after the break-up.
Gina’s friends notice she’s listening to an unspecified sad song on her Instagram story, and they correctly predict that this signals she’s broken up with her boyfriend. Also checks out. Looking at my last.fm page is like reading my diary.
- How’d she swing that if she’s not presently working for Rolling Stone?
- When you’re assigned to review a show, your employer reserves a ticket for you, not you and your two best Judys.
- I’m not gonna quibble too much with “all-access passes,” but that’s definitely not standard when you’re reviewing a show. When you’re interviewing an artist, sure, but Gina doesn’t know who the headliner is, so we can assume she’s not doing that.
Posters for J Dilla and Pure Comedy decorating the walls of her apartment? Girl, I guess. It does speak to a lack of imagination on the part of the set designers, I think? Like, you think a Latina music journalist (who spends a good portion of this movie strolling around in a shirt that says “LATINA AF”) would be repping FJM and not, I don’t know, Downtown Boys? Empress Of? Helado Negro?
EDIT: I spoke too soon. There is indeed a Downtown Boys poster on the premises in a later scene.
Also: the Crosley suitcase? I mean, I have one, too, so I shouldn’t judge, but I also feel like if I was an editor at Rolling Stone I would spring for something a little more top-of-the-line.
Gina’s friend says, “What is this song? Do I know this song?” which is, like… the idea of a twenty-something living in Brooklyn not recognizing the first song on the first Vampire Weekend album strains credibility.
Gina then wistfully replies, “Junior year, winter break…” and then it cuts to a Christmas party where the song is playing. Mansard Roof came out in October of 2007, so it makes sense that it would be playing at a Christmas party in the winter break of her junior year.
Aaaaaaaand then Saturdays by Twin Shadow and Haim, which came out in 2018, starts playing during the Christmas party flashback. Historically accurate mood = shattered.
Then her new boss at Rolling Stone calls her and tells her that she’s not on the list for the exclusive show? So I guess she was lying to her friends when she said that Rolling Stone had given her three all-access passes?
Why are you, a staff writer at a music publication, relying on your friend, a realtor, to get you into an exclusive show, especially when your new boss at Rolling Stone could not get you into that show? Why does your realtor friend have more exclusive NYC music scene connections than you do?
Scott Street starts playing as she plaintively wanders off by herself. This movie… shaky on fundamental details of music journalism, consistently solid on Phoebe Bridgers syncs.
So this scene is supposed to be taking place in, I think, 2010, which means that journalism was probably a little less dead than it is now, but I still cannot imagine having this much confidence in one’s own career longevity as a music journalist, now or at any time in the past.
Some dude on Craigslist is selling three VIP wristbands for the secret show that was just announced this morning? A likely story.
Okay. Couple things.
- Rolling Stone is based in New York, so why would they pay for you to relocate when you, too, also live in New York?
- Okay, even if we accept that this is a fantasy world where Rolling Stone is in San Francisco, I honestly doubt that Rolling Stone’s budget allows for paying mid-level editors’ moving fees.
- And if you were so fortunate as to land an editorial job at a major publication, and they were so generous to pay for your moving fees, why, why, why would you ever blow that money on VIP wristbands to a show where you don’t even know the headliner? Girl!
So those Craigslist tickets fell through (checks out), so now Gina and her girls are in a restaurant, and her… ex? Slash some slimy guy she knows? Comes through and offers them spots on the list? And she’s like, “No, Rolling Stone is going to get us in?” I don’t know if this is a rational choice. Depends on how slimy the guy is.
This line made me cackle but still, Kanye West playing a secret show at a 1,000-capacity venue in the year 2019? Really? Kanye has been doing a few performances at smaller venues this year as part of his Sunday Service project, but these aren’t nightclub performances. He did perform one truncated set at a nightclub last summer, with Kid Cudi, but that was a “private party.”
FACT CHECK: WHO WEARS A SWEATSHIRT TO MAKE OUT WITH THEIR BOYFRIEND IN THE SHOWER?
Gina’s friend just banged the slimy promoter guy to get VIP wristbands, but then he was like, “Those are just GA, I couldn’t really swing VIP, but I put you guys on he list for the party,” and then Gina’s friend said this, and I’ve never had sex with anyone to get tickets for anything so I can’t speak to the veracity of this whole exchange, but I can tell you that it made me want to die.
You’re telling me that a music journalist, who lives in New York City, who is preparing to move across the country, has enough disposable income to make a pit stop at a boutique to buy a whole new outfit for a show? After stopping at RuPaul’s apartment to buy top-of-the-line molly, no less? (Yes, RuPaul plays a drug dealer in this movie; no, I didn’t get any screenshots because I blacked out for the duration of his scene and stopped responding to stimuli.)
LESBIANISM FACT CHECK: The lesbian best friend’s entire subplot is that her girlfriend of four months wants LBF to meet her some of her own friends over brunch that weekend, and LBF is being weird and hesitant about it. So, couple things:
- If you’re a lesbian chad in a major metropolitan area, you already know all of your girlfriend’s friends; you’ve probably dated them yourself;
- Which I guess could be why she’s hesitant to go to brunch with them, like, if she didn’t want to meet up with an ex-girlfriend over brunch with a new girlfriend, but that’s not actually in the text of the script and, frankly, the writers of this movie are not well-versed enough in lesbian culture for that kind of nuance;
- Like, this is the kind of movie where the lesbian best friend spends all her time hanging out with straight women, and does not have one (1) single other gay friend.
- No, her whole hesitation around meeting her girlfriend’s friends seems to be about not wanting to commit to this girl, who she’s been dating for four whole months, or put the “heteronormative label” of “girlfriend” on their relationship, and to the straight screenwriter of this film I would like to say:
- lesbians are not straight men
- google “uhaul”
In a flashback to their break-up, Gina’s boyfriend chews her out for looking at her phone too much during a party, and she’s like, “Am I supposed to ignore my editor?” This checks out in that it sounds like the kind of B.S. excuse I would give someone when I was actually just compulsively checking Twitter due to boredom, and I happened to see a tweet from my editor, so it’s like, half true.
Gina: *yells this at her boyfriend*
the opening chords of your best american girl: *immediately start playing in the background*
They’re lying in bed together staring up at the ceiling and rolling away from each other and sighing and the sad first verse of Your Best American Girl is going full blast in the background i’m lasughing so hard i have tears in my eyes
*THE GUITARS HIT* *THEY WORDLESSLY GRAB EACH OTHER AND START HAVING SAD DESPERATE SEX*
Gina puts on The Jump Off and LBF says, “Is this from our ‘Bitches and Bangers’ playlist from college?” And chronologically, that all checks out, but nobody was saying “bangers” in the late 2000s, I don’t think.
Okay! Poster check: I see posters for Downtown Boys (checks out), Beastie Boys (checks out), the Osso String Quartet’s cover of Sufjan’s Enjoy Your Rabbit (a deep cut, checks out), Jookabox (she’s an Asthmatic Kitty devotee, I guess), and LVL Up (R.I.P.).
Also! In the mirror! Is that…
YES IT ISSSSSSS COME ON FEEL THE ILLINOISEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Questlove’s here spinning Big Freedia ft. Lizzo. Questlove does have a day job but I know that filming on Fallon wraps at, like, 6, so he could plausibly go out and DJ at a nightclub at the end of a workday. (And this is a workday, because an earlier subplot involved Gina and LBF forcing their other friend to leave her office job in the middle of the day.)
Okay, given that this is a ~secret show~ with ~secret headliners~, they wouldn’t know this unless Jessie Reyez herself was up on stage plugging in the pedals and adjusting the mic stands.
Also: Jessie Reyez’s set is… the only set at this show. Gina leaves before it’s over, and her friends leave soon after. These characters were busting their asses, running around all day to get VIP wristbands, and contemplating spending hundreds of dollars… to see… Jessie Reyez… in a nightclub. Absolutely no shade to Jessie Reyez, but… really?
Oh, and that’s the other thing about this movie: she’s a music journalist, and she’s so passionate about music that she’s breaking up with her boyfriend and moving across the country to pursue this as a career, but we never get a sense of which music is important to her, or why it’s important to her.
Ahh, yes, Robyn for the scene right after she sees her ex-boyfriend in the crowd and gets sad about it. Yes. Correct.
Not the first inanimate object in this film to have the word FEMINIST plastered on it in pink all caps, but probably the most egregious.
LMFAOOOOOOFOADSJFKLDSJAKLFDSALKFJDSALKFJDSLKFJADS YOU KNOW THE LESBIAN CHARACTER’S WRITTEN BY A STRAIGHT WOMAN WHEN HE R TRAGIC BACKSTORY IS, “ONE TIME I DATED A BI GIRL AND IT TRAUMATIZEDDDDDD MEEEEEEE I NO LONGER KNOW HOW TO LOOOOOOOOOVVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE I CAN’T TRUST ANY O NEEEEEEEEEEEEE I CAN’T COMMIT TO YOU BECAUSE WHAT IF YOU ACTUALLY SECRETLY LIKE DICKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK”
i jsut have my head in my ands at this posint
I, too, have cried while writing in my diary on public transit on the way home from a show.
That gender neutral bathroom sign, prominently positioned inside the bathroom (instead of… on the door… where it always is), directly adjacent to the heterosexual wall-fucking, is s e n d i n g me.
Aaaaaaaand the Frank Ocean cover of “Moon River” is gonna take us home.
Man, I gotta say, for all the many, many inaccuracies of this movie, literally every single song on the soundtrack has been a major contributor to my own lovelorn wallowing playlist over the course of the past year. Supercut. Motion Sickness. Scott Street. Your Best American Girl. Missing U. Frank Ocean Moon River. Literally every single one. Fuck.
If I’ve learned one thing from watching this movie, it is this: