Netflix’s Desperados Was Primed To Ditch The Rom-Com Rules — But It Didn’t

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Warning: Spoilers about the end of Desperados are ahead.
Netflix has been churning out some A+ quality content for the past few years, and for this writer, the sweet spot seems to be "friendship comedy with familiar faces and some romance thrown in." For movies and shows in that category, I am there as soon as I can press play. Which is why the newest Netflix rom-com Desperados was so exciting. It took every moment to tell us that these characters were destined for a different kind of rom-com story, but the ending of Desperados, while entertaining, unfortunately took the rom-com rulebook as gospel.
Desperados stars Nasim Pedrad as Wesley, a 30-something who just can't get it together. Her eggs are dying! She can't get a job! She can't pay her bills, and she can't find love! When Wesley meets Sean (Lamorne Morris) on a blind date, he decides within seconds that they're not right for each other. Minutes later, Wesley meets Jared (Robbie Amell), a man she thinks could actually be the love of her life... as long as she continues to hide her true personality. They date, have a magical time, and then Jared appears to ghost her, which means Wesley drunkenly sends an angry email and then has to fly to Mexico to delete it before Jared sees it. Hilarious hijinks ensue, and, what do you know — Sean is at the Mexican resort where Wesley is staying, too!
By now, if you're any fan of the traditional romantic comedy, you would ascertain that Sean and Wesley end up together. That is exactly what happens in Desperados, but it's not the path that the movie lays out for the 96 minutes that precede its romantic ending.
Sean is a widower, and he spends a lot of time talking about how he's not "ready" to date, not ready to move on from his wife, and not ready to deal with all his feelings about her death. That's 100 percent fair — grief is endlessly complicated and a personal journey to all those who experience it. Sean plainly says he's not ready to dip his toe in that pond yet.
Wesley is her own sort of mess, and Wesley's friends, Brooke (Anna Camp) and Kaylie (Sarah Burns), finally tell her she is her biggest obstacle in the path of the life she wants to live. (Wesley eventually comes to this realisation, too.) Wesley has to put in the work on herself before she can move forward, and though she gets a good job at the end of the movie and makes up with her friends, Wesley's journey toward self-acceptance and change isn't actually over by the time the credits roll.
Desperados encourages all of its characters to look deeper and be honest — Kaylie and Brooke even have their own subplots in this regard — which is why, when in the film's final minutes, Sean told Wesley he couldn't live without her even though two days before he wasn't ready to date, I screamed at my television.
I love a sappy ending as much as the next person, but to try and force a relationship between two people who have admitted they're not ready yet is a rom-com trope that needs to die. The film sloppily attempts to tie things up with a bow, when it was actually kind of refreshing to see characters that were all works in progress, and who admitted that fact openly.
Ending the film with a friendship or potential love story between Sean and Wesley would have been the better move here, because it would have been sweet and realistic. We're all works in progress; sometimes we just need a little more time. And, believe it or not, rom-com fans can actually handle a movie that doesn't end with a kiss.
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