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‘Set it Up’ and the Beauty Behind “And Yet…”

Harper and Charlie dancing in Netflix's Set it Up
Source: Netflix

Good news, Netflix’s Set it Up still holds up. You know how sometimes you obsessively watch a movie for a period of time and then abandon it for a while only to revisit and realize that it’s just not that good anymore? That’s not the case with Set it Up. It’s just as glorious as I remember, and maybe even more because this time around, I have a lot more feelings about the “and yet…” of it all. (On top of the pizza scene, which basically owns me.)

While the idea is explored through almost every character’s point of view, it doesn’t really take root into the larger story until Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) start talking about it while dancing at the engagement party, (and perhaps even more than when they actually declare the notion out loud to each other in the end).

It’s fascinating because looking into the idea of “and yet” as friends more than a couple, which ideally proves to be the moment that reveals that they’re in fact the pair we should be rooting for. And while anyone who’s ever watched a rom-com or read a romance novel can pick apart the tropes from the beginning to distinguish this detail, this is the moment that cements it in the moonlight, revealing the comfort that’s so often found in two enemies who become friends.

And Yet … it’s all in the set up

The thing with “enemies to lovers” is that when it’s done right, and where friendship starts to develop, it’s essentially the best part of the trope. It’s why it works so well because instead of being some sort of unhealthy showcase of the fact that ‘initial instincts were wrong’, it’s actually a culmination of the tremendous growth that takes place with two people who can not only challenge each other, but “and yet” becomes to cornerstone of where the development starts stirring.

Harper and Charlie could not be more different, but she needed someone who wouldn’t sugarcoat the truth for her (in the same way that Lucy Liu’s Kirsten doesn’t), and he needed someone who’d inspire him to find more value in the simple details of life. And when done right in this trope, all that happens effortlessly, which is the foundation of the gorgeous slow dance that takes place to Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet.”

It’s not just easy being together, but it’s so riveting to see how moved Harper was because of Becca’s “and yet” speech. It’s the domino effect of one small thing working wonders, and it’s the gorgeous indication of the fact that it’s never about perfection, but rather everything else in between that works out for people when it’s meant to be. It’s especially the case when we’re dealing with the romance genre and these perfect “and yet” moments which culminate into something bigger, better, and full of, (to quote Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me), “that damnable spark.”

The two of them dancing together at the engagement party and digging into this idea without even considering themselves in the equation is precisely what makes the scene so endearing to watch. You can pinpoint the exact moment where Charlie’s gaze on Harper starts to linger a little bit longer than it should, and when he realizes this is a lot more enjoyable than he thought possible.

Though ultimately, neither realize just how colossal this moment is for the two of them as a couple, it’s what makes the experience so great for us as viewers.

And the dance being broken up right after the gorgeously comfortable spin with Harper screaming because she wants pizza is what makes Set it Up so endearing as a film because every bit of the humor works in a rom-com that makes it feel new and fresh with the tropes we know and love.

They were meant to set up their bosses and yet, it was their story all along. The two words guiding them as beautifully and as effortlessly as they do has given me newfound appreciation for the film, and I now (unsurprisingly) love every minute it of even more than I already did before.

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