The last few years has seen an overdue increase of women in films, with more female writers and directors, and more stories centering on women, it’s difficult not to compare Plan B to recent hits like Booksmart (2019) and the HBO Max original Unpregnant (2020). When there are only a few, they all get compared, as opposed to movies about teen boys losing their virginities, which is basically a genre of its own.
Plan B, written by Prathi Srinivasan and Joshua Levy (both of whom wrote on The CW’s underrated series iZombie) follows two high-schooler best friends who set out on a hilarious adventure after a regrettable first sexual encounter. Set in middle America, “the straight-laced Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) and her slacker best friend Lupe (Victoria Moroles) have 24 hours to hunt down a Plan B pill.” Together Srinivasan and Levy crafted a thoughtful story about sexuality, bodily autonomy, and friendship, without being preachy or offensive, while also including witty comedy, romance, and hijinks.
The casting of Sunny and Lupe couldn’t have been more perfect. Kuhoo Verma’s transition from the homely bookworm to the unexpected and insecure sexpot is so surprising and believable she should go back in time and be cast as the lead in the original “She’s All That”. Her partner in crime, played by Victoria Moroles, is that familiar slacker we all know and love (and probably have in our lives) who knows her strengths and doesn’t stress the small stuff. Like bromance movies before them, the young women of Plan B are ride-or-die sisters for life.
There are many messages that can be taken from Plan B: virginity is a construct intended on shaming women and upholding the patriarchy, a solid friendship is all the family one needs, the “morning after pill” becomes less effective after the first 24 hour window, comprehensive sex ed in school decreases teen pregnancy rates – okay, that last one isn’t in the film, but it is proven to be factual.
With a story that spends a lot of time driving around after sunset, the use of lighting and color was absolutely striking. As if the challenge of being shot during a global pandemic – which seems to have not discouraged director Natalie Morales who also co-directed the film Language Lessons in the last year, earning the Narrative Spotlight award at SXSW – Plan B effortlessly provided a peek into cultures that are often forgotten on screen. Characters of color are often secondary, relegated to the comedic friend who pops in for a couple scenes, so to center a story on two women of color is both refreshing and appreciated.
Plan B is available now, streaming only on Hulu.
— Yael Tygiel