I'm a lifelong believer in crushes. I believe that a crush is how the deepest friendships often begin. I think they're the lifeblood of youthfulness regardless of any "hyphenated age category," which in my case is a little (lot) older than high schoolers. Still, you cannot tell me I'm not a kid again when I'm crushing out. I believe a crush is not just about romance; it can be platonic, familial, or even vocational. However, the boss/employee crush is ill-advised, especially if you're the boss. Nevertheless, a crush in its purest form is just what the doctor ordered for what ails any and all of us—and perhaps a way to even achieve world peace.
Now that I'm through with my Senior Class President campaign speech, I'll get to the movie.
I'll admit watching Crush made me a smidge jealous. My days at Glenn Hills High don't remotely compare to that of Crush's Miller High—nor did most of my friends' experiences compare. I'm not even sure my niece, a current junior, has this same openness; we live in the South. But it's Hulu, and I love to lose myself inside the possibility of what life would be if it were normal that 60% of the population were Queer.
I immediately related to the lead character, Paige Evans (Rowan Blanchard). Not because I was anything like her in high school, but because I would've been so much happier had I been. A free-spirited Queer artist, Paige represents that kid who knows who they are early on (even if they don't know it yet). But life and movies, if not boring, are more complicated than that. Paige faces a few issues: creating an art portfolio competitive for her dream school, CalArts; finding out who KingPun (the Banksy of Miller High) is to avoid suspension, and getting her forever crush to like her.
And that’s the foundation of this story.
Paige and Gabriela Campos (Isabella Ferreira) have a history. They co-Mom'd Lentil The Egg as middle schoolers, an old-school activity foreshadowing an LGBTQ twist. Crush is unlike most high school flicks I've seen lately or ever, namely The Half of It, Heartstopper, and even Booksmart. It represents an openly Queer student body in the clear majority. Even Paige's bestie, Dillon (Tyler Alvarez), and Stacey Clark (Tealah Dunn), the only prominent straight couple, are known to have BDSM-ish slobfests in the middle of the hallways at any given time, so... grown up.
Crush is Euphoria as a rom-com except for Euphoria’s "unflinching depiction of the darkness that often plagues the lives of high schoolers," as Atreyo Palit so aptly put it. In other words, it's an inclusive, grown-up, sex-positive show, but light. Its cast of characters include a Wiccan lesbian, a "horse lesbian," a "gateway gay," and Gabriela's openly Bi twin sister, AJ Campos (Auli'i Cravalho), who gives Riley (Aubrey Plaza) vibes from Happiest Season.
Then there's Angie Evans (Megan Mullally), the liberal, open, over-the-top single mom to Paige. And by over-the-top, I mean gifting her 16-year-old dental dams and vibrators to support her. Color me prude, but that's a lot even for this fictional tale. I will say that the "chronological" adults in this film are hilariously shallow, e.g., Principal Collins (Michelle Buteau) and Coach Murray (Aasif Mandvi). If I had a critique (other than maybe not gifting your kid a vibrator—but being cool if you find theirs), the adult characters could've been layered more. In Say Anything, you had Mrs. Evans (Bebe Neuwirth) and fine Miss Fine (Jessica Williams) in Booksmart: two teachers who were definitely walking a fine line (no King Pun intended) attending their students' high school graduation parties. Yet, they had critical, pivotal moments encouraging the future of their students, respectively, Lloyd Dobler and Molly.
Crush did have something in common with the awfully cute Heartstopper—using rainbow color burst tie-dye looking clouds that form around your crushee. Back in my day, we simply had "the butterflies," They weren't something you saw, just felt in your gut. Though it might've been easier had my crushees been surrounded by rainbows or even little butterflies that actually flew. Or if I had a bestie like Dillon which takes me back to his and Paige’s baptismal (licked fingers) sharing of Flaming Hot Cheetos (here's an unrelated song I just came across that is a small gift for you, dear reader). After two years of this germaphobic pandemonium we're living in, I say back to the days when food is shared again. Dillon is Paige's Cyrano, setting the critical moment when Paige is clearly confused about whose Crayolas she wants to color with in motion.
But she finally chooses one, and I shan't spoil it for you here. Watch it yourself and delight in it. Crush takes me back to when the closest thing we had to rainbows bursting and floating around was The Jets, a band whose song, Crush on You, had nary a bass in it. High school life was hard enough back in the day. It was nice to live inside the synthesizer space—which is where it feels like Crush leaves you—giddy, light, hopeful, and, yes, all crushed out on the possibility of what? You got it, your next crush.