This New Netflix Rom-Com Has The Laughs You Need Right Now

Welcome to “What’s Good,” a weekly column where we break down what’s soothing, distracting, or just plain good in the streaming world.
Photo: Courtesy of Skip Bolen/NETFLIX.
What’s Good: The Lovebirds on Netflix
Who It’s Good For: I’m trying to figure out who this movie is not good for. People who don’t like to laugh, I guess. It’s not good for anyone who doesn’t like silly hijinks, comforting romance, and fun escapism. If you don’t like the effortless charm of Kumail Nanjiani and the consistent charisma of Issa Rae, this movie is not for you. For everyone else — you know, those of us who can experience joy — get your snacks and drink of choice ready. You will love The Lovebirds.
How Good Is It? Sometimes, my picks for this column are underdogs. They are shows or movies I pick that I don’t think are on people’s radar. This is not that pick. Even if you didn’t drop all your plans this past weekend (lol, remember plans?) to watch The Lovebirds, you’ve probably seen the trailer, or scrolled past the photo of Nanjiani and Rae looking fine as hell smiling at each other like they’re sharing an inside joke. The Lovebirds isn’t a secret. It’s the popular kid everyone wants on their team, but that doesn’t mean you don’t pick it. I chose this movie because it’s too good not to.  
Rae plays Leilani, a hot professional at an ad agency with a boyfriend she kinda wants to break up with. Nanjiani plays her BF, Jibran (also hot), an aspiring documentary filmmaker facing the inevitable end of his relationship. The movie makes us invest heavily in this pairing by showing us their meet-cute — a really, really cute meet-cute — then slaps some reality on the rose-coloured glasses of new love by jumping forward in time four years when Leilani and Jibran live together and lowkey can’t stand each other. Anyone locked down with their longtime love can probably relate. Just me?
After the couple gets in their latest of many arguments on their way to a dinner party, they both realize it’s over. Around the same time, they hit a dude on a bicycle with their car and become embroiled in a killer scandal. That’s when the film takes a turn from heartfelt, relatable rumination on navigating real-life love to a high-stakes comedy caper. This is where Nanjiani and Rae shine. We know these two are funny (they both came up on comedy series — Silicon Valley and Insecure respectively), but this is the first vehicle where they are given the freedom to be comedic leads bantering with gleeful abandon. The result is a side-splitting delightful romp, complete with murder, sex cults, and a joke about Chuck E. Cheese that will make you do a spit-take.
Another reason I love this movie so much is what Issa Rae told me (that brag was anything but humble, no regrets) about the tweaks she and Nanjiani made to the script. Leilani and Jibran weren’t written to be a Black woman and a Brown man. When the duo was cast, they made sure certain notes were added (like the reason for the couple’s hesitation to go straight to the police) so that their races informed their characters, without it being the focus. They also made sure that the rest of the cast, from extras to the people who play their friends, were also people of colour. Rae and Nanjiani wanted to make a romantic comedy that didn’t centre on whiteness, like so many in Hollywood do, and they succeeded. 
The Lovebirds isn’t a groundbreaking or a genre-shattering work of art. It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be: a lighthearted 90-minute reprieve from all the heavy shit we’re all dealing with. It’s also a wonderful example of Rae and Nanjiani’s career growth and glow-up (both have been considered awkward or nerdy in the past and here, they are just sexy-ass bonafide STARS). This movie is so good I’ve watched it twice. Watch Leilani and Jibran fall in love, out of love, and back in love (maybe?) as many times as you need. Let this movie be the light your week deserves. 
Things that are also good:
Stella Meghie’s sweet, quirky, and quietly hilarious rom-com, The Weekend
Watching Twitter drag [insert latest white celeb to say something racist and dumb] and laughing like Michael Jordan looking at an iPad
Putting on bright red lipstick just to feel alive
Pouring yourself a glass of wine, cozying up on the couch and re-watching Maid In Manhattan aka my go-to self-care prescription
The Great on Amazon Prime, which is WILD, wacky and the weirdest piece of historical fiction I’ve ever watched

More from TV