#GeekGirlTalk: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Who We Are Vaguely and in Terms Only of the Media We Seek Out Most Often:

Teal (roman type!)
Literally any teen TV show, YA, women’s and feminist media, everything Star Trek

Hanna (italics, baby!)
Reality TV, memoirs, romance novels, anything British, any podcast ever

Welcome to #GeekGirlTalk, a (biased, subjective, opinionated) conversation about the pop culture we’re currently loving, hating, and obsessing over. For February, and to kick off a 2020 full of #GeekGirlTalk, we’re reflecting on To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and the special place teen rom coms hold in our hearts. 

I, like everyone else in the world, fell in love with To All the Boys when it premiered on Netflix in the summer of 2018. For whatever reason, I hadn’t read the books, so I went in with almost no preconceptions. I’m not the biggest of movie fans, so it’s notable that that summer I watched it twice back-to-back and have returned to it several times in the past year and a half.

Hanna, we can get into the sequel (if we must), but first, I want to try and articulate why I think of this movie as such a triumph of its genre. To start, I must admit that I am very, extremely in favor of the Fake Boyfriend trope. It’s definitely my favorite romance trope and also maybe my favorite fiction trope in general. Not only do I think that it reliably adds the tension and drama we’re all seeking in our love stories, but I also find that it more consistently centers actual emotional closeness than other common tropes can or, at least, do. One of my biggest pet peeves about stories with romantic plots is how much so many of them rely on readers just believing in the emotional closeness of the characters without its development actually being reflected in the text. Now that I think about it, in my mind I tend to frame the Fake Boyfriend (and all of its more tangential iterations) as the opposite of the Soul Mate in terms of romance fiction. And, honestly, I think that while obviously the average person is not actually getting into that many fake-romantic-partner situations over the course of their life, the relationship-building that accompanies the trope is wildly more applicable to our real lives than the kind of situational drama that comes with finding (and then losing and then reuniting with) a quote unquote Soul Mate. I know we generally agree on most of this, Hanna, but I’d really love to hear what you think in re: the Fake Boyfriend potentially being the best romance trope out there. I also want to acknowledge that Fake Boyfriend stories can depend heavily on heteronormativity in way that erases the experiences of and/or is inaccessible to queer folks, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on that piece of things as well.

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

#GeekGirlTalk: Subverting Heteronormativity in Romance Novels

Welcome to Geek Girl Talk, a (biased, subjective, opinionated) conversation about the pop culture we’re currently loving, hating, and obsessing over. This month, we’re discussing romance novels and what the genre has to offer in terms of queer representation and complex, autonomous women characters. In other words, we’re fangirling about Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue and Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient.

Who We Are Vaguely and in Terms Only of the Media We Seek Out Most Often:

Teal (roman type!)
Literally any teen TV show, YA, women’s and feminist media, everything Star Trek

Hanna (italics, baby!)
Reality TV, memoirs, romance novels, anything British, any podcast ever

Spoiler disclaimer: We kept it spoiler free, so read on!

I’ll start by saying that this whole conversation could just be one long line of exclamation points as far as I’m concerned, because that’s how passionately I feel about our topic of conversation: romance novels in general, and Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang in particular. But since that won’t get us very far, I’ll actually begin with the fact that I love romance novels. My whole childhood basically consisted of flipping through slightly-age-inappropriate books to get to the smutty and/or romantic parts. Of course, my relationship with the genre—and especially with certain tropes (namely heterocentric ones)—has changed over the years. For a long time, especially as I was coming to understand more about my own sexuality and navigating real-life romantic and sexual dynamics for the first time, romance novels stopped being satisfying for me. Reading them was fun, but it wasn’t full of that giddy, half-in-love-yourself feeling that used to be there. I wasn’t connecting with the same dynamics and tropes that used to feel so all-consuming to me. That is, until I read RWRB this past month. I read it three times, and basically forced you to read it too, Teal, because my love for this book (and for you—you’re welcome for introducing you to this brilliance!) knows no bounds. I’m so curious about whether you had the same reaction—did reading this book feel different to you too? And, if so, why are we feeling this way?

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

Panel Recap: A Geek Girl’s Right to Erotica

I have been more than a little bit obsessed with romance novels, erotica, and romantic fanfiction for most of my life. It started with sneakily checking out books from the library and skim-reading to get to the “good parts,” then moved on to scouring Archive of Our Own, Fanfiction.net, and other glorious sites for all of my slash fic needs, no matter how niche (Draco Malfoy and Blaise Zabini, anyone?), and now, at long last, I can finally say that I am a proud sex nerd and devourer of all things romance and sexuality.

Given this extensive history, I think it’s safe to say that I couldn’t have been more excited to sit in on this year’s GeekGirlCon panel A Geek Girl’s Right to Erotica. This panel was the first live episode of the certifiably awesome Podice Rippers podcast, hosted by Natalie Warner and Lainey Seaton. When not podcasting “at length and girth” about romance novels, Natalie and Lainey are a cyber-security technical writer and an account manager, respectively. Together, they host a podcast that is an incredibly funny and thoroughly geeky exploration of all things romance, smut, and erotica.

Image Description: podcast hosts and panelists Natalie Warner and Lainey Seaton sitting at their panel table at GeekGirlCon ’17. Source: Twitter

Hanna Hupp
“Rock On!”

Strong Female Character: Jane the Virgin Needs Her Mom (And So Do You)

Source: TV Guide

Source: TV Guide

I have a pretty established preference for the serious when it comes to T.V. drama. (TGIT, anyone?) However, one night, about a year ago, in a room-cleaning daze, I happened upon the silliest, most light-hearted, and most romance-novel romantic series I know of: Jane the Virgin. It’s the opposite of everything I’ve come to expect from a binge-worthy dramatic T.V. series and yet, I love it.

Jane the Virgin is about a woman, Jane, who, in the midst of finishing school, getting engaged, and suddenly reuniting with her long-lost superstar father, is accidentally artificially inseminated. The premise is loosely based on a Venezuelan telenovela, Juana la Virgen, and is a jarring but captivating juxtaposition of telenovela tropes and real characters and problems. The drama is decadent, the writing is masterful, and the characters are hilarious, but that’s not the reason I will recommend the show to anyone and everyone. That’s not what has caused me to write not one but two academic papers analyzing the story’s development. I love Jane the Virgin because I love Jane.

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

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