Love it or hate it, Netflix's The Kissing Booth brought heartthrob Jacob Elordi into our lives. While the rom-com was loved dearly by viewers, it was harshly panned by critics and, most recently, one of its biggest stars. Jacob Elordi's comments about why his Kissing Booth character is "awful" are so eye-opening and so real. But first, let me give you a rundown of his breakout movie.
In the film, Elordi plays high school bad boy Noah Flynn, the apple of our protagonist, Elle Evans', eye. But Elle is best friends with Noah's brother Lee, and they've established one major rule to make sure their friendship stays intact: Noah is off limits. But there's no denying Elle and Noah's growing chemistry, and when she sets up a kissing booth at her high school's Spring Carnival and finds herself face-to-face (or mouth-to-mouth, rather) with Noah, she has to decide between her BFF or crush.
Eloridi, while happy for the role of Noah, which skyrocketed him to Gen-Z fame with millions of followers on social media, admitted that his character and how he was framed in the movie was very problematic.
In speaking to The Hollywood Reporter Elordi, who now stars as another version of a bad boy in HBO's Euphoria, said, "The Kissing Booth was the first film I ever made, it was sort of my ticket to Hollywood so I was really grateful for that."
However, Elordi also discussed the way in which The Kissing Booth overlooked Noah's toxic masculinity, while pointing out how his new character, Nate, Euphoria tackles the issue in a more productive way. "It’s almost like righting my wrongs a little bit, too, because the character in The Kissing Booth is awful and it’s never really explained. He’s kind of idolized and made into a hero, so I suppose this show is showing why."
For those who haven't seen The Kissing Booth, Noah Flynn is controlling. He doesn't like Elle hanging around other guys and also victim-shames her after she's sexually assaulted. Ugh, this character is literally spewing that toxic-male mess everywhere. There's no problem with portraying a character like Noah on screen (problematic boys like that exist), but when that character is also portrayed as a hero — like that behavior is somehow cute and acceptable — without any significant aspect of the story addressing why his behavior is problematic or exploring his growth... Well, therein lies the problem with Noah Flynn. And it's pretty awesome that Elordi is aware of that.
As for Euphoria's Nate, the athlete and bully is given a backstory. No, that does not excuse his character in any way for being a bad person, but it builds him as a multi-dimensional, layered individual. And, most importantly, Nate is not portrayed as a hero and his behavior in the show is portrayed — very decidedly — as gross.
"You’re always the bad guy when you’re the jock or have toxic masculinity, but I think it’s important to show that that person comes from somewhere as well," said Elordi. "It’s almost like an unspoken thing and they’re usually used as a trope to show a villain or a humorous character, when really there is a real boy there who has fallen victim to ages of toxic masculinity which has been passed down and there’s a reason why he is how he is." Such a valid point. Can we also give Elordi a standing "O" for fearlessly pointing out the terrible flaws in his character and problematic storytelling while highlighting the humanity in such flawed, complex characters?
Regardless of how problematic the character was, Elordi plans to reprise his role in The Kissing Booth 2 set for a 2020 release. I just hope, for the sake of Jacob Elordi — but mostly for all of us — the sequel provides more context and depth to the "awful" character of Noah Flynn.