Director Claire Scanlon Talks Set It Up And The Modern Rom-Com

Credit: Netflix

Rom-com fans, if you haven’t had a chance to check out Netflix’s latest addition to the genre, Set It Up, stop reading right now and do so. The movie follows in the footsteps of other Netflix rom-coms and instant classics such as A Christmas Prince or When We First Met (but not The Kissing Booth, never The Kissing Booth…).

Set It Up tells the story of two exasperated assistants (Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell) as they try to set up their respective bosses (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs) in hope of making their own lives just a little bit easier. Of course, no one could anticipate that the assistants would eventually end up falling for each other. (Let’s be honest here for a second, the tropes are why we really love rom-coms.)

So far it’s been a rather sad decade for rom-coms at the box office, considering their success in the 90s and especially the early 00s. But Netflix has been at the forefront and has answered our prayers, delivering quite a few romantic comedies worth watching. But what is their secret to doing what only very few filmmakers have been able to get right in the past ten years?

Set It Up director Claire Scanlon said that one of the golden rules of rom-coms is wit, and snappy dialogue, “the kind of verbal repartee that you would see from films in the ‘30s and ‘40s, which I still feel like, when you go back and watch those films, it’s so fresh, it’s such witty dialogue and so well-written,” she told Variety.

Scanlon also said that the reason people seem to connect with Harper (Deutch) is that her motivation Is not finding a boyfriend. “Everything that she really focuses her energy on is trying to be a good writer and worthy of working in that capacity for Kirsten [Liu],” says Scanlon. “She really loves Kirsten’s worth ethic, her quality output — she’s there for a reason, and that’s where a big chunk of her concerns and anxieties lie”.

In addition to that, Scanlon said that the production was lucky to have a very diverse team behind the scenes, with almost all production roles filled by women. “We did this movie before the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements but this is a pretty female-heavy production team,” said the director. “All the people that we ended up hiring, aside from pretty much our DP and our prop master, were women.”

If you’ve fallen in love with Set It Up like I have, it will make your day, week, month to know that a sequel to Harper and Charlie’s story is currently under consideration. “The success that we’ve seen with When We First Met and then Kissing Booth and then this, it’s clear that people are hungry for this genre and enjoy watching it,” said Matt Brodlie (Netflix’s Director of Original Film). “They’re all chugging along in a great way — so we’re looking for more, certainly.”

Even if that doesn’t necessarily mean a sequel is a “sure thing”, it certainly means that Netflix will be delivering more intelligent, quirky, and loveable romantic comedies. The next one, Like Father, starring Seth Rogen and Kristen Bell is already set for August 3rd, and an adaptation of Jenny Han’s YA novel To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is out August 17.


If that doesn’t amp up the excitement, we don’t know what will!

Verena Cote
Get In Touch