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Why the Friend Zone Is Not So Bad—In Fact, It's Pretty Cool

A different kind of boy-meets-girl in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
PHOTO 20th Century Fox

One lunch break at the Candy HQ while we were talking about The Fault in Our Stars and If I Stay, then EIC Marla—if I'm not mistaken—came up with the term "sicktopia" to describe all these movies set in the real world—as opposed to the increasingly popular dystopian realms—about teenagers dying and falling in love. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl ticks the "dying" box, but what makes it so special is that it celebrates platonic love instead of the usual romantic kind. The "Me" is Greg, a cripplingly self-conscious boy who refuses to call anyone his friend and is forced by his mom to hang out with Rachel, a schoolmate recently diagnosed with leukemia. Completing the trifecta is Earl, Greg’s best friend, though Greg would much rather call him a co-worker he makes home movies with.

If this was "a touching romantic story," Greg and Rachel would be "furiously making out with the fire of a thousand suns" in no time. But this is not that kind of movie, and Greg and Rachel's arranged friendship develops slowly and not-so gently, each cautious of this new person they’re letting into their personal space and aware that they might not have that much time together.

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Not to take anything away from the epic romance of Gus and Hazel and the like, but I wish there were more teen movies about the friendship between a boy and a girl. We put such a premium on romantic love and treat the friend zone like a death sentence, so it’'s refreshing to see a story about a boy and a girl who don't end up together in the conventional sense. Now before you think that the movie is boring without the kilig factor, there's something to be said about the intimacy of curling up—but not cuddling—in bed to watch a movie, hanging out in each other’s rooms on a daily basis, and getting to know each other without any pretenses or games.

You hear couples say that their significant other is their best friend, and that's cool because a great friendship is the best foundation of a romantic relationship. But a great friendship can also be "just" that—rewarding on its own and something that most people would be lucky to have at least once in their lives.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is now showing in cinemas. 

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About the author
Dyan Zarzuela
Council of Cool 9, Managing Editor, Columnist
Stalks celebrities, watches TV, marathons movies, curls up with books, and flails at concerts for a living. Also: semi-hardcore Whovian.
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