Lessons From…The To Do List

Over the weekend I watched the independent film The To Do List. Not really sure what I was expecting, but it starred Aubrey Plaza and had some solid support casting (Donald Glover, Alia Shawkat, Clark Gregg, Connie Britton, just to name a few). I was pleasantly surprised. This is not to say that it was the greatest comedy or coming-of-age story, but more so that the film was entertaining and enjoyable for what it was. As with most media, I found a few pearls of wisdom that I wish to analyze from this film. Also, as with the other posts SPOILERS ahead.

So, the general gist of the film is simply that Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza), exceptional student with an anal retentive streak, finds herself lacking in sexual knowledge unlike her sister (Rachel Bilson), mother (Connie Britton), and “slutty” friends (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele). She decides to correct this deficit in the manner she approaches everything else by making a list of sexual activities/actions (hence the name of the movie) that she must research, study, and perform until she is prepared to finally lose her virginity; all before attending her freshman year of college. Of course, hi jinks ensue and mistakes are made along the way, but I’ll let you see the film for the full story.

The humor from the film is obviously derived from the straight laced, serious Brandy trying to be one of the “slutty” girls like her friends and experience sex (Plaza’s deadpan delivery also helps the situational comedic moments). However, this performance is counter to Brandy’s natural state. While she does come to enjoy the sexual acts and her sexuality by the movie’s end, her real pleasure comes from the research, discovery, and correct execution of the list. Eventually, her departure from her true nature and desire, at everyone’s insistence, to loosen up and be less stiff costs her her job and friends, for some time. Which brings us to the first lesson: you cannot be anything other than yourself because you will otherwise fail. While Brandy’s losses are temporary, they do occur. It is only once she realizes what is actually important to her that she manages to correct her initial errors, save her relationships, and eventually find her own ‘real’ sexuality.

Eh...yes and no.

Eh…yes and no.

The gif (pronounced jif!) brings us to lesson two: sex is both important and no big deal. For all the weird and gross out humor, this was one of the core messages of the film. Sex can be an extremely significant action in a person’s life or it can just be something they do on a Friday night. Neither one is a wron was to look at sex and both serve ways serve a purpose. It took me a long time to learn this lesson myself and frankly it is one I have to remind myself of everyday. However, I wonder how different my view of relationships and sexuality would be had I thought of sex like this from the inception. Because it is true what the film, specifically Brandy, says, “It’s not having sex that’s a big deal”, what really matters is the emotions, attachments, relationships, and meaning we attach to the act of sex. So whether sex is a deep, meaningful act or just something you do to pass the boredom is completely up to you.

(Feel like I should put this as a quick note: Not saying that sex is meaningless and that you can just do whatever the hell you want with no consideration for others. Simply stating that sex means what you want it to mean and that if you want to fuck the cute boy or girl in the corner because you’re horny and they’re cute you should as long as they want to as well. So basically just be honest about what you want out of the experience with yourself and them because that is only fair and the right thing to do)

Finally, after having this epiphany, Brandy rushes over to her friends to reconcile her earlier mistakes. She realizes that what she really cares about and what truly matters at the moment are her relationships with her friends and family. Which is the final lesson: you will grow up, change, and most likely move on/evolve from your current state; however, cherish the relationships you make and have at each phase of your life because they have more influence on who you are and will become than virtually anything else. Brandy learned this near the conclusion of the film and even though her friends might not have followed the same path as her post high-school, she understood the significance their friendship played in her eventual growth and knowledge.

Thus endeth today’s lesson and I recommend watching the film if you get a chance.

P.S. I decided to include one last tidbit from the movie

When Tami Taylor gives you lube...

When Tami Taylor gives you lube…

So, I guess use lube?

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