Road Trips and Sex Without Shame

Kristen Meinzer joins Leah to analyze how female sexuality is shown without shame in two movies: Joy Ride and Plan B
Good Girls Talk About Sex
Road Trips and Sex Without Shame
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In this Pop Culture Pillow Talk, I talk with pop culture critic Kristen Meinzer about two great movies:

  • Joy Ride
  • Plan B

You can find Kristen at:

 

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In this episode we talk about

  • Female sexuality in movies
  • Road trips
  • Plan B
  • Abortion
  • Reproductive Health
  • Women’s Rights
  • Asian Women
  • Cultural Taboos
  • Asian fetishization
  • Asian women representation
  • Planned Parenthood

Resources

Other Kristen Meinzer episode –

Episodes about teens seeing porn –

Fitted condoms –

Full episode text

LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach, Leah Carey. And this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Hey, friends. In today’s pop culture pillow talk, I’m talking with friend of the pod, Kristen Meinzer, about two movies that center female sexuality without shaming women for being sexual. What a novel approach. Specifically, we’re talking about the movies Joy Ride, which as of today in the United States is streaming on Amazon Prime, and Plan B, which as of today in the United States is streaming on Hulu.

 

One note about timing. Kristin and I recorded this a while ago, and I was waiting for Joy Ride to be easily available before releasing it. In that time, the United States’ far right has shifted the conversation, quite predictably, about abortion from states’ rights to nationwide ban. At the same time, they’re pushing to neuter or eliminate sex education entirely, ramping that up to a fever pitch. We’re seeing entirely preventable deaths when women having miscarriages can’t get treatment because doctors are in this scary medical gray zone where they could end up in jail for treating something that is medically dangerous, but also entirely natural. This is a really scary time in the history of women’s reproductive health and health in general in the United States, which is why movies like Joy Ride and Plan B are all the more important.

 

Kristen Meinzer is a pop culture critic as well as an official royal watcher. You can hear her on her own podcast, The Daily Fail, as well as many other high profile shows like NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and her other show, How to Be Fine. She’s also written two books. The first, So You Want to Start a Podcast, is for all of you potential podcasters out there. It’s a fantastic resource. And also, she has a book with her podcast co-host, Jolenta, called How to be Fine. All of Kristen’s links are in the show notes. So, let’s get into it.

 

Kristen, hi. I’m so excited to have you back. When we recorded last time, I hoped that you would come back and you said, “Yeah, if you want to talk about the movie Joy Ride, I’ll do that any time.”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: Yes. And I am so excited. You actually followed through and invited me back because it was so fun being on your show last time, and I also just think there’s a lot to talk about with Joy Ride.

 

LEAH: Today, we’re going to talk about two movies, Joy Ride and Plan B, which are both available on streaming. And just so you know, we’re not going to avoid spoilers in this conversation because we’re talking about relationships, we’re talking about interactions. You can’t have those conversations without talking about what’s going on. So, if you haven’t seen the movies yet and you want to watch them before you listen, please go do that and come back.

 

Otherwise, let’s dive in. So, Kristen, can you give us just a little mini recap of the movie Joy Ride because I know that it’s got some themes that are of particular interest to you.

 

KRISTEN: All right. So, Joy Ride centers on four friends. The main friend, Audrey, played by Ashley Park, is a Chinese-American adoptee. She was adopted as a baby and raised with white parents in a very, very, very white community. And early on, she befriends pretty much the only other Asian in her whole neighborhood, Lolo, played by Sherry Cola. And Lolo is Chinese American raised with Chinese-American parents with Chinese-American culture. And Lolo actually speaks Chinese.

 

So, Audrey is a type A personality. She is a go-getter. She is an attorney. She is a homeowner. Lolo is, I don’t know if I want to use the word deadbeat, but she’s not a go-getter.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: She’s a creative type.

 

KRISTEN: She is. She sometimes helps out at her parents’ restaurant. She makes art that’s not totally sophisticated. She lives in a shed in Audrey’s backyard. And anywho, Audrey gets this opportunity to be promoted within her law firm if she succeeds on closing a deal on a business trip in China. And Audrey is excited for this opportunity for the business reasons, but Lolo and Lolo’s family and Audrey’s family have an added level of excitement because they’re like, “Audrey, you can see a little bit of the culture that you came from, and if Lolo’s going with you, she can interpret for you since you will need both a cultural and a language interpreter while you’re there,” and everyone’s really excited.

 

Lolo, in particular, wants Audrey to track down anything she can about her biological family, and Audrey’s a little bit resistant to that. This is supposed to be a business trip. She’s not sure if she ever really wanted to find biological family. That’s not really a priority for her. But anywho, Lolo goes with her anyway and tries to push that on Audrey, but that’s not all Lolo’s pushing on Audrey.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: She also, surprise, is bringing along her cousin, Deadeye. Deadeye is a little bit quirky, maybe is initially presented as somebody who might be neurodivergent, somebody who has a different kind of social skills maybe than other folks in the movie. So, there’s Deadeye who is Lolo’s cousin. And then, adding more complication is Audrey’s college BFF, Kat. Kat is living in China at this point starring on a very popular Chinese soap opera, and Kat and Lolo, they have some conflict because Lolo is the lifetime, the childhood best friend of Audrey. Kat is the college best friend and knows all sorts of things about Audrey that Lolo may not even know. And so, there’s that old friend versus new friend conflict. There’s that third wheel conflict of having Deadeye along. There’s, as I already mentioned, the work conflict and the questions of, is this going to be a trip also to try and track down family tree stuff? So, there’s all of that in there, all mixed into one movie. And then, on top of that, sex and drugs.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: And one of the things that I think is so fabulous about this movie is, when did Bridesmaids come out? That was maybe 12, 15 years ago. It was the first time that there was a movie that featured a group of women and raunchy humor, and people thought that this was life changing, it had never been seen before. And there have been very few, comparatively very few movies in the intervening time that have that sensibility. This movie not only allows these characters to be fully sexual, fully raunchy. There is some stuff in this movie that is like, we see the inside of one of their vaginas.

 

KRISTEN: Yes, we do.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: Just when you think it’s not going to go further, you’re like, “Oh, yeah. Oh, no, they’re going inside also. It’s not just vulva.”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Yeah. This is a movie that five years ago, you couldn’t have made with white women. And now, we’re seeing this movie with Asian women. And one of the reasons I was so excited to talk with you about it is because on this podcast, I work really hard to bring in a wide variety of experiences so that everybody has an opportunity to hear their own experience mirrored back to them.

 

And there are some populations who I have had a very hard time getting to speak to me because of the cultural taboos. And one of them is Asian women. I have approached countless Asian women asking them to be on this show, and the response is, “I’m not comfortable talking about that,” which is absolutely reasonable. And a white woman asking an Asian woman, there are reasons why that totally makes sense. But part of it is also the fetishization of Asian women.

 

So, I’d like to talk to you as an American-raised Asian woman about what you see in this movie in terms of Asian fetishization, how you see it being dealt with, where you see it being maybe not brought up in ways that you would expect it to be?

 

KRISTEN: It is, I will say in the very beginning of the movie, a little bit heavy-handed and maybe more than we need of Ashley Park’s character, Audrey, dealing with the all white men in her law firm and her boss, in particular, saying a lot of things that are offensive and borderline fetishizing, definitely otherizing of Audrey’s character. There’s definitely that in the beginning. And it’s presented in a way where we’re like, we know he’s the bad guy, and we know she has to put up with a lot of crap in this law firm. It’s there. I thought it was funny, but it also sometimes is like, we get it.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: But it’s there. It’s there. And I am personally glad it’s there. And again, I found it funny, and I found it very relatable. As far as other presentations of Asian womanhood and Asian sexuality, I think it’s really well-handled. One thing I really, really appreciate is that it doesn’t feel like these characters are there for the white male gaze. And it doesn’t turn white men into the be-all end-all.

 

That’s the thing that all Asian women are aiming for narrative, which I think is out there a lot. Ugh, that’s the prize. That’s what Asian women want. They just want white men. That’s all we want. And all of the objects of lust, of affection, of interest for all of these women in this movie, they’re not white men, and I love that about it. It’s like there are hot Asian men left and right. Asian men with histories that overlap with and are different from our main characters, Asian men who were raised in Australia, South Asian men, Asian men who speak Hindi, Asian men of different backgrounds, also some Black characters, too.

 

But this movie, to me, at least feels like this is not made for the white male gaze. It’s not made to make white people feel good about themselves. It’s not made to feed into fantasies of Asian female sexuality. It’s just Asian women with a wide range of experiences, and in one case, an Asian non-binary and possibly asexual character, we don’t get any sex from Deadeye. But in the case of the other three characters, these women, they get to have sex on their own terms in the ways that they want to, which in some cases, those ways are quite unexpected. Maybe they involve certain props. Maybe they involve certain secrets. Maybe they involve, in some cases, abstinence followed by not abstinence.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: So, I think it’s great because it really runs the gamut. It’s not trying to show one depiction of what is it like to be an Asian woman who has sex. There’s just a huge variety shown, and there’s no punishment for it. People get to have sex, they get to enjoy it, and then you weren’t punished later. It’s not like you somehow end up alienated from your community. You don’t end up dead at the end. You don’t end up raped. Some of the sex is quite hilarious. Some of it’s very, very funny, but funny in a way where we’re not laughing at the women or shaming them for their sexual desire. And I think that’s such a refreshing thing. We don’t just see that very often in movies with women, and we especially don’t get to see it with Asian women.

 

LEAH: Yes. I love that near the beginning of the movie, one of the women says to Audrey, “What, you’ve still never had sex with an Asian guy? Really?” And by the end of the movie, she not only has had sex with an Asian guy, she’s had a threesome with two Asian men in which she is clearly the instigator of everything that happens. And there’s no shaming of her. There’s no suggestion that what she did was wrong or bad or in any way deviant. She was just having fun, and she was allowed to have fun for the sake of having fun. And that is so refreshing.

 

KRISTEN: Yes. And I think that frequently gets left out of movies targeted at women, sex for the sake of fun. Not sex because this is the love of your life or sex because it’s consummating something that you’ve built up to for ages. But sex for fun is in its own right something to enjoy. What’s wrong with that? According to the movies, everything’s wrong with that.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: Usually, but not in this movie. Not in this movie. And I so appreciate that.

 

LEAH: Yeah. One of the things that I also found fascinating was Kat. She’s the college best friend. And we know from the very beginning, we know before we’ve even met her on screen that she has an extremely high sex drive, that she is a very, very sexual woman. And then, we meet her on screen, and she is portraying herself as a celibate Christian waiting until marriage. And she’s doing it so that she will be acceptable to a man, which is such a common trope in media. And also, it’s true, just in general, that so many of us turn ourselves into what we think we’re supposed to be for somebody else to love us.

 

And watching Kat navigate that throughout this movie, the fact that she is this highly sexual person who is also pretending to not be so that she can get the guy is a fascinating journey. Because at the end, she is revealed to him and to the entire world to be this extremely sexual person, and he still accepts her.

 

KRISTEN: Yes, which I think is beautiful and so against what I think pop culture generally wants to tell us. A guy wants a woman who is not more experienced than him. A guy will feel intimidated if he knows that you’ve slept with, I don’t know what it’s supposed to be in Kat’s case, maybe two or 300 people she’s slept with by the time she’s 30. I think the implication is hundreds. She’s slept with a lot of different people over the years, and that’s not something a guy wants. That’s not something you say out loud. That’s something you hide. And her guy, that’s not what it’s about. It was about, “Why weren’t you just honest with me?”

 

LEAH: Also, I do want to give a quick public service announcement with Kat. So, we haven’t talked at all about the stuff that happens on the train with the woman who’s a drug dealer or drug mule. I don’t know what she is. She’s carrying a lot of drugs.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: And the police come on the train. And so, she goes to our four main characters and forces them to be part of hiding the drugs. And one of the things that happens is that Kat takes several condoms full of cocaine and puts them up her rectum. And most of them then come out later. First of all, that’s just bonkers to me. I know that people do this.

 

KRISTEN: Yeah. What is it, six, seven, eight? It’s a lot of cocaine.

 

LEAH: It’s a lot.

 

KRISTEN: It’s full of cocaine.

 

LEAH: Yes. I think it’s seven, because I think that she says later, “I was able to get six out, and I couldn’t get the seventh.” And the public service announcement here is, first of all, don’t put cocaine up your butt, but that’s neither here nor there.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: But the actual public service announcement is don’t put anything up your butt that doesn’t have a flared base because your colon doesn’t have a defined endpoint the way that your vagina does. And so, something goes up into your vagina, it might get lost, you might have to go into the hospital for them to fish it out, but it’s not truly lost.

 

The same is not true with the colon. Things can go up way too far, and you can end up really, really sick with internal damage, all sorts of stuff. So, please, if you’re going to put a cocaine-filled condom up your butt, make sure it has a flared base.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: You mentioned when you were talking earlier that this movie is not made for the white male gaze. And I was looking online at some reviews that YouTubers have made about the movie. And it is really interesting to me that of the non-white male people whose reviews I clicked on, every one of them said, “This is an amazing movie.” And the white male reviewers who I clicked on, every one of them said, “Yeah, it’s not that good.”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: Surprise!

 

LEAH: I know. It’s like, “Oh, it wasn’t made for us. Meh.”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: Guess what, fellas? Most movies are not made for the rest of us, but we still sometimes find good things in those movies, even when they’re not made for us.

 

LEAH: That’s right. We still watch them.

 

KRISTEN: Yes.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: The other thing that I just wanted to mention about this movie that I love so much is representation, not only the representation of Asian women as sexual beings who do not need to be ashamed or afraid or any of those things, but Lolo is bisexual. And as we’ve already mentioned, Deadeye, through the course of the movie, moves from she/her pronouns to they/them pronouns, which I clocked it during the course of the movie, but I didn’t pay a ton of attention to it.

 

And then, when, again, I was going back and doing some reading, I came across this interview with the writers that I thought was absolutely fascinating. I would love to say their names, but I don’t think that I can without absolutely butchering them. So, I’m going to try in order to give them credit, please forgive me, this is going to be a travesty, Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and Teresa Hsiao.

 

So, in this interview, Cherry says, “The character of Lolo was always written to be bisexual. Also, for the different sexualities, the gender non-conforming characters, it was a thing that as we were going through the process, we tried to make it not a big deal. There are lots of people that are like this. It’s fine. Everyone’s going to treat it very casually.”

 

And then, the other writer, Teresa, said, “Obviously, having Deadeye as a character who in the beginning uses the she/her pronouns, but by the end is they/them and just not making too big of a deal of that, it’s more of a natural thing having that really subtle change. Hopefully, people who get it get it, and they see it. That’s an important moment of representation for them without being a finger wagging, and now, that was a coming out story.”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: I love when stories are told this way that don’t make a big deal about the stuff that they are portraying. It’s just another aspect of a human being’s life. I just absolutely adore that aspect of this movie.

 

KRISTEN: So do I. And I think they do a great job of doing that across the board with pretty much everything in this movie. This is just a thing. This is not an after-school special. This is just one more of the 5,000 things that is part of what makes this person this person. And let’s not use this as a moment to hold up the whole storyline.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: Let’s not put a big stop sign out now and do an explainer. It’s just like, get another thing. This person also happens to have long hair. This person also happens to be from the West Coast in the U.S. It’s just one more thing, and it’s not a reason to screech, stop the record. It’s really well handled, yeah.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Yeah. In my eyes, they are not in any way performing diversity. They are just allowing the characters to be who they are. I love that.

 

KRISTEN: Yes, absolutely.

 

LEAH: Anything else you want to say about Joy Ride before we go on to Plan B?

 

KRISTEN: I just want to say also that even though the movie has what I consider a lot of great stuff by the end of the movie, it’s not necessarily the predictable Hollywood version of what a happy ending is. And I love that about it. A happy ending doesn’t have to look like a Hollywood happy ending. And it can still be joyful, and it can still be beautiful for all the characters in the end. And I think that’s what this movie does.

 

LEAH: Speaking of Joyful, I would love to get your take. What did you think of the wet-ass pussy?

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: I loved it so much. This is a reference to our four friends here at one point having to pretend to be a K-pop band. And I just love it because it’s almost like a fantasy sequence that they go into where it almost reminded me of a Bollywood movie where a scene is happening, but it’s like, now, there’s all these special effects. Now, there’s a whole dance routine happening here. Look at the colors, and I just loved it. I thought it was so fun. I love it when any movie suddenly goes into something like that. Very, very different movie, but Barbie also does that at a certain point where it’s like, oh, my God, am I in a fantasy dance sequence? I am in a fantasy dance sequence. I’ll take it. I’ll take it.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Do you wish your brain would stop yapping and making grocery lists, so you could focus on pleasure and even having an orgasm? It’s actually a pretty common complaint. We ask a lot of our brains to be efficient, effective, organized, and to never drop any of the zillion balls that we’re carrying. But then, we also expect our brains to automatically switch off when it’s time for pleasure, so they don’t distract us. Unfortunately, for most of us, it doesn’t really work that way. So, whether it’s you’re carrying the mom’s mental load, ADHD, keeping up with the big project that’s due next week, or any of a million other reasons, we need to help our brains learn how to relax into pleasure. We may even need to teach them how to feel pleasure.

 

All of it is possible, and it’s useful to have a guide who can see the bigger picture and help you navigate all the pitfalls that your brain has put in place trying to keep you safe from having to change. I would be honored to be your guide toward a more deeply fulfilling intimate life. I’m queer, kinky, and non-monogamy friendly, and I’d love to talk with you on a free discovery call. So, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching to schedule yours. Again, that’s a free discovery call to find out if we’re a good fit. And you can schedule it at www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That link is in the episode description on the app you’re listening in now. Back to the show!

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: So, I wanted to talk about the movie Plan B in conjunction with Joy Ride because one of the things that we mentioned with Joyride was that these women are getting to have sex unapologetically, there’s no sense of shame or being punished for having had these sexual experiences. And I think Plan B is a really interesting companion for that because this is a story about two teenage girls.

 

They’re pretty close to their high school graduation. So, I think they’re both 17. And one of them is really wanting to have sex for the first time. The classic, I want to have sex before I go to college story. And she ends up having sex in not at all the way that she anticipated. There was this particular boy that she wanted to have sex with, and she thought that she was going to be able to, and then he ditched her. And instead, she ended up having completely non-romantic, literally, I think her butt is up on the bathroom counter, and he’s standing there driving into her there’s zero foreplay. There’s not at all any time for her to have lubricated. I watched it, and I thought, oh, my God, that must be so painful.

 

But again, there’s no sense of shame in her having had sex. There’s no punishment involved. And I think that’s where this movie is so interesting because she does discover that the condom came off during sex. And so, she has to get Plan B. And so, this whole movie is a road trip movie for them to go get Plan B because their local pharmacist has decided that it is against his conscience to give a 17-year-old Plan B, which is infuriating on its own.

 

And also, this movie came out I think in 2021. So, just let’s keep in mind that things are devastatingly worse now. But these two girls have identified a Planned Parenthood clinic where they can go get Plan B within the 48-hour window. And so, it’s a road trip movie where predictably, everything goes wrong.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: But none of what goes wrong has anything to do with shaming or punishing either of these girls for the fact that they are sexual beings. So, I thought that this would make a really fun companion to Joy Ride. And the opening scene of the movie is I think hilariously brilliant because it opens with Sunny, who is the character who will, in a few minutes have sex and then need plan B. She is looking at an anatomy book, one of those anatomy books that has all the cellophane pages, so you can see the different layers of the body and the muscles and the veins and all this stuff. And she goes through all this cellophane stuff so that she can see the penis on the male body. And she starts to masturbate to it. But then, she reaches out, and she turns her stuffed animal around so that her stuffed animal won’t be watching her masturbating. And I was like, Oh, my God, that was me as a teenager.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Finding the most random material to masturbate to and also having this attachment to my childhood things at the same time that I was beginning to explore more adult things, and I just loved that, the way that they put those together. Meanwhile, her best friend, Lupe, is exploring her sexuality, is becoming involved with another young woman. She has armpit hair, which she gets called out on by some of the other girls at school. She’s this character who’s a little less concerned about what everybody in the world thinks of her.

 

KRISTEN: Or so it seems.

 

LEAH: Or so it seems, yes. Please go ahead.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: Yes, because maybe she does care what other people think of her. And that does get revealed that her devil-may-care attitude is a front for something else she’s hiding, which is that she is gay and is afraid to tell anybody, including her best friend. And part of it, she has very good reason to have this fear, even though her best friend reveals every problem, every insecurity in her life, and is very open about things, when she goes home every day, Lupe is facing a very Christian family, a father who tends to be quite judgmental of her behavior and what she looks like, doesn’t even want her wearing lipstick because it’s so slutty-looking.

 

And so, she is walking the line between what is acceptable to people, what can I say to my family, what can I say to my best friend? And her best friend, the one who needs the Plan B, the best friend who’s been completely open about all of her insecurities, all of her embarrassments, everything, feels betrayed when she finds out that Lupe has been hiding it this whole time. She’s like, “How can I be this open with you about everything that is right and wrong, everything about my sexuality, and you didn’t tell me?”

 

And the last time I was on your show, we talked about there being a similar storyline on Ted Lasso where one person is offended that the other didn’t come out to them. And on Ted Lasso, I didn’t think it was earned. I thought, you know what, I don’t think you have a right to be mad at this guy for not telling you. In this movie, I understood a little bit more why the one friend felt a little bit betrayed by the other not being open with her in this case. I don’t know how you felt about it.

 

LEAH: The thing that caught my attention most about this was when they had the conversation and Sunny said, “Everybody thinks that you’ve had all this sex with all these different people, and why would you think that this was a big deal?” And Lupe says, “Because it’s better to be thought of as a slut than as a lesbo. I just let people think whatever they wanted to think.” And I think that as progressive as this generation of young people is when it comes to gender and sexuality, that does not mean that it’s just devil-may-care, everything goes.

 

Like you said, Lupe’s family is very Christian. And she’s legitimately afraid of being thrown out of her home if she reveals who she is. I thought that was a really interesting take on it, that it would be more acceptable if she was having sex with a lot of guys than it would be if she was having sex with a single woman.

 

One of the nice things is that I don’t think that the movie makes any declarations about who Lupe is. She is exploring. She is trying new things. And I actually can’t remember. At the end, does she say to her dad, “I’m gay,” or does she say, “I’m dating a woman”?

 

KRISTEN: No, she doesn’t.

 

LEAH: Yeah, she doesn’t.

 

KRISTEN: Nope. So, she doesn’t say either of those things. She says, “Dad, is there any reason why you would ever kick me out and make me live on the streets?” And he’s like, “There’s absolutely nothing you could do. You could murder somebody, and it wouldn’t stop me from wanting to love you and shelter you.” And he uses murder as the example. So, that means pretty much anything else goes, right?

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: But she never says, “I’m gay,” or “I like women,” or any of those things, or “I just had sex with a woman in the back of Sunny’s minivan.” She doesn’t say any of those things.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Yeah. So, we really do get to see her character in that process of figuring out who she is without having to put a label on it, without having to make a declaration of, “This is who I am.” It’s just like, “This is what I’m doing right now. And maybe tomorrow it’ll be different, who knows?” So what were some of your favorite parts?

 

KRISTEN: I think my favorite moments were when Sunny revealed to the boy she has a crush on, Hunter, the one that she wanted to have sex with the first time, the one that she thought she was being ditched by when she reveals all to him like, “Here’s the deal, Lupe and I are on a road trip to get Plan B because I had fumbly, accidental sex with somebody. I had too much to drink, and the condom came off, and now, I need plan B.” And the way he reacts is with just 100% support, and I loved that. In a way, I loved it like it was the fantasy sequence we all hoped would happen. The boy you have a crush on, you tell him you have sex with somebody else, and he still likes you? What?

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: Yeah. And he understands. He knows that you are not in love with this other guy. This was a really messy, not intentional version of sex for yourself. Not one that you’re ashamed of, but one that isn’t really what your dream was of what you wanted to do that night. Her dream was to do Hunter, not this other guy.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: And I think that the way Hunter handles it is just with such kindness and with zero judgment. And then, the other scene I really love is when Sunny and her mom have a similar talk because the movie does end with her having to go to her mom because she’s run out of options. The Planned Parenthood has been shut down. They live in South Dakota, which is very rural, and there’s no other options of where can we go in the next 48 hours without help from an adult to intervene on our behalf? Where else can we go? I have to go to an adult. It has to be my mom.

 

And when Sunny talks with her mom, I just thought that was beautifully handled. Her mom is, again, that fantasy version of what you want a mom to say and do. The first answer out of her mouth might be, for most of us, we think it’s going to be scolding, But what we really want the first answer to be out of the mouth is, “What can I do to help,” right? That’s the dream. And Sunny’s mom does a little bit of both of those things.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

KRISTEN: But she mostly wants to help her daughter. And I thought that was really beautiful. And I loved both those scenes so much that they actually were enough to help me forgive all the things I hated about the movie. Because frankly, there was a lot I really didn’t like about this movie.

 

LEAH: Oh, okay. Tell me that.

 

KRISTEN: I felt that so much of the humor in this movie was not good-natured. I felt like a lot of it was based on discomfort and cringiness and the hanging over certain scenes of, is somebody going to be sexually assaulted here, is somebody going to be the victim of violence here?

 

LEAH: That’s fair.

 

KRISTEN: And I didn’t find that enjoyable. It wasn’t like Joy Ride where the humor came from stuff that was so ridiculous and bodily functions that are just like we all do these bodily function things, whether it’s vomiting or whatever it is. And I felt that Joy Ride was just filled with joy through all those things. But so much of Plan B was about things that I didn’t enjoy as much, that I didn’t just laugh my head off at. I was just, in some cases, really mad at the characters. The supporting characters did things that were really mean and reckless at certain points, and I don’t enjoy meanness. I don’t think meanness is funny. I don’t think recklessness is funny. I don’t think taking advantage of somebody or stealing their car or fucking someone and then taking something from someone is something that you can just laugh off. I don’t think any of that stuff is funny. So, those parts of the movie, I really disliked strongly, but the good parts of the movie, like I said, made up for it because those good parts are really good.

 

LEAH: Yeah, I think that’s really fair. That sense of, is somebody going to be assaulted? And there is a moment during which I’m not even sure how I want to characterize it, I would say that there’s a moment in which Sunny is going to perform oral sex on someone in a coercive situation, and she ends up not doing it. But it is extremely uncomfortable because even though she is the one saying, “Yes, I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it,” it is absolutely coercive. There is nothing about it that she actually wants to do other than it allows her to be close to a penis, and she’s still curious about that. But I feel like that is a very minor point in that interaction. It’s mostly her being like, “I don’t want to do this, but somebody’s got to.”

 

KRISTEN: Yeah. I also honestly felt that way when Lupe was meeting Logan in a parking lot, in the back of a vehicle, and we don’t know what’s going to happen in the back of that vehicle. This is somebody who they’ve never met face-to-face before in their lives. They’ve met online, and Lupe is 17. And even though she talks a big game, do you really feel okay with giving a 17-year-old the keys to your mom’s car to go into a parking lot with someone they’ve never met before?

 

And to me, I felt like there was something about that that felt a little ominous, too. And then, what happens after that was terrible. Then that person runs off stealing your best friend’s mom’s car and going into a really scary, violent space that people are getting hurt at and people are yelling and people are hitting each other in this new space that you go to. Yeah, a lot of it just seemed scary and not funny to me. And I think it was supposed to be funny. But to me, it didn’t feel funny.

 

LEAH: Yeah, I think that’s fair. I did laugh some during it. But it certainly, to me, wasn’t a comic joyride as it were.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: But there were a couple of other moments in it that I thought were so real. I think that’s really what it was, that there’s so much commentary in this movie about what teenage sexuality is that I think, for me, it helps to gloss a little bit over those things. There’s a moment early in the movie when Sunny and Lupe are in the girls changing room. I think it’s after a gym class or something. And they hear two of their classmates having this conversation. Now, again, these are 17-year-old, very blonde, very pretty, very thin girls, the very conventionally attractive representations. And one of them says, “Oh, we finally tried reverse cowgirl.” And the other says, “How was it? It was amazing, right?” And the first girl says, “Yeah, it wasn’t that great for me, but I felt like I looked good.”

 

And I think because today’s teenagers were raised on free porn, literally, they’ve had access to free porn from the day that they have had access to digital screens. And if you want to hear stories about that, I have a couple of them in this feed, and I will link to them in the show notes, this generation of teenagers is very aware of how they look when they’re having sex. They are much more performative about sex than they are paying attention to how it feels because all they know is people on screen performing. And so, they think that that’s what sex is supposed to be. And I thought that that little exchange was so just laser focused on something really important.

 

KRISTEN: Yeah, I felt like that was real. And I will add that those scary moments that I didn’t find funny, I actually felt like those were real, too. And as a teen and in my 20s, I had many experiences that mirrored those or were close to that or where I was on the verge of some of the things that are in this movie that I didn’t like. What I didn’t like about them is that they weren’t funny, and I felt like they were being played as comedy, and they weren’t funny to me. But were they realistic? Yeah, I felt like even those terrible moments in the movie I didn’t like were actually sadly realistic.

 

LEAH: Yeah. The other thing that I wanted to just put a pin in is that we see them in sex ed class. And, again, people who listen to this show know my feelings about sex education. Those people who receive sex education, which is by far not everyone, the vast majority of people who receive sex education are getting either abstinence-only education or they’re getting disease and pregnancy prevention. Nobody is getting actual sex education about, “Somebody is supposed to treat you well, and you’re supposed to feel good.”

 

KRISTEN: This is what enthusiastic consent is. This is what pleasure is.

 

LEAH: Right. Exactly. And the sex ed that these kids are receiving is a film strip, where the woman’s body is being compared to a car. A guy comes along and looks at her car and is like, “It’s so beat up.” And she’s like, “I should have saved my car for my husband.”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: And then, Hunter, the cute boy who Sunny has a crush on says, “Wait, but what about his car? We never see his car.”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: I’ve never actually heard the car metaphor before. And I imagine that that was their satirization of it. But that is absolutely true to what a lot of kids are getting in sex education. And given all that’s going on in our country right now between the Dobbs decision and Don’t Say Gay stuff that’s happening in Florida, basically everything that’s happening in Florida, being a really scary bellwether of what may be coming in the rest of the nation, that kind of abstinence-only education is potentially coming for all of our kids, even those of us who live in really progressive areas. I live in Portland, Oregon. We are not immune, even though we’re one of the most progressive cities in the country.

 

So, if you’re listening to this and you have kids, if you have teenagers absolutely, but even younger kids, please start talking to them about sex in a way that you would want to be talked to about sex because what they’re getting in school is really not helpful. I’m going to step down off my soapbox now.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: And actually, I have a public service announcement for this movie as well.

 

KRISTEN: Last movie was don’t put anything in your butt that doesn’t have a wide base.

 

LEAH: A flared base, excellent. Yes.

 

KRISTEN: A flared base, that was our first PSA. Let’s hear the second one.

 

LEAH: The second one is that Sunny makes a comment to somebody after she discovers that the condom has come off and she now has to get Plan B. She is having a conversation with somebody about sex, and she says, “Make sure that the condom fits snug,” which I think is a hilarious line. There are companies out there that sell custom condoms, not specifically made to your penis, but you can order them by length and by girth. And so, you can get lots and lots of different size combinations so that it specifically fits your penis.

 

So, I will put some links into the show notes for people who are interested in that. You do not need to go to the drugstore and get the same condom that everybody else is using, and please for the love of God, don’t go to the drugstore and get the Magnum condoms just because you want to feel good about yourself.

 

KRISTEN: No, don’t do that.

 

LEAH: That is not doing anybody any favors.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Anything else you want to say about Plan B, Kristen?

 

KRISTEN: No, that’s it. That’s it.

 

LEAH: Okay. Thank you so much for having this conversation with me today. I absolutely love these two movies. I love talking about them together. And I’m really grateful to you for having this conversation with me.

 

KRISTEN: Thank you so much for having me back, Leah. This was so much fun.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Let’s do it again soon.

 

[MUSIC]

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Production credits

Host / Producer / Editor – Leah Carey (email)
Transcripts – Jan Acielo
Music – Nazar Rybak

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