The Clueless Teenage Panic of ‘Plan B’
A hilarious morning-after-pill sex comedy on Hulu
Considering what a hot issue the Plan B morning after pill used to be, it’s a little surprising no one had come up with the idea for the teen comedy ‘Plan B’ before. It’s a typical teen quest storyline, but with a tangible goal and very real stakes. Getting pregnant can really mess up an overachieving teen girls’ life. Although is it really fair to call Sunny, played by Kuhoo Verma, an overachiever? She seems to be achieving about just the right amount for an Indian-American girl in a small South Dakota town. Sure, she wants good grades. She also wants a good test score, an occasional moment alone to masturbate, and also to lose her virginity so she feels less like a dorky loser.
But don’t let that oversell Sunny’s self-esteem issues. Thanks in part to a powerful friendship with Lupe, a girl who, as her father says, tends to dress like a depressed skunk. Not that she much acts depressed. A chronic, casual weed habit tends to do wonders for a person’s mood. The point being, that while Sunny and Lupe may have their typical teen girl insecurities, they’re for the most part cheerful relatable characters who use modern buzz words they don’t totally understand to try and make sense of a world to which they’re still trying to adapt.
I greatly appreciated how, despite despite the set-up being perfectly primed to deliver very serious life lessons on racism and sexism, ‘Plan B’ is refreshingly casual in its approach, only really engaging these topics on the same level Sunny and Lupe perceive them. They suffer through bigoted insults, and respond in kind, but try to avoid identity overly defining or pigeonholing them. Their actual goals are always front and center. Sunny and Lupe are hellbent on either finding romance or inoculating themselves from the consequences of it, with ambiguous but very funny results.
‘Plan B’ pushes the envelope with grossness, but always in the service of solid jokes. I was a bit shocked when one scene manages to climax with a full-on penis that we see for a surprisingly long time. And yet there’s no real shock value. In context, the lingering exposure demonstrates how teenage girls are uncomfortable with penises, less because of inexperience and more because of how penises in general, and this penis in particular, are pretty ugly.
The obvious discomfort our heroes have with sex is a stark contrast to how openly and ignorantly they talk about it. And I don’t mean ignorant in a pejorative sense, they really just don’t know much and must guess as to how sex even works. ‘Plan B’ primes us for this well with a fairly incomprehensible early scene of their sex education class, which almost immediately devolves into students mocking the cheesy pro-abstinence video by questioning the greater logic of its bewildering analogy.
But I shouldn’t overstate the raunchier aspects of the plot, as ‘Plan B’ gets the bulk of its mileage out of more mundane conflicts. By the time it transitions to the road trip stage of movie, the tangible difficulties of our heroines actually acquiring a Plan B pill are of far greater concern than any emotional blowback. Still, their teenage emotional immaturity constantly crops up as the leads face obstacles in their quest, using humor to cope with the awkward stress of the greater situation.
That humor borne of awkward stress forms the real emotional core of the movie, as it really is with any raunchy teen comedy. Lack of pretense separates a teen comedy from its more adult older siblings. You can scarcely expect teen lead characters to have any idea how to navigate social relationships with the bare minimum level of skill and finesse that adults tend to take for granted. ‘Plan B’ has commendable energy and authenticity when it comes to clueless teenage panic. But, more importantly, it has an excellent sense of humor when it comes navigating obscene situations.