Whenever a movie like ‘After We Collided’ comes out, it’s incredibly easy to look at it and dismiss it as another crappy teen romance and move on with your day. The thing is, if they were just harmless guilty pleasures then there wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately the idea of being a mature movie for this series means that they have to be insanely problematic and toy around with serious themes. Considering the fact that the target audience is pretty young doesn’t paint a pretty picture. The relationships portrayed in these movies is not healthy in any shape or form. No teen should ever look at Tessa and Hardin and wish that their relationship mirrors theirs.
Trigger Warning: Addiction, Trauma
Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for After and After We Collided
In the sequel to 2019’s teen hit After, we follow Tessa and Hardin as they move on with their lives after their breakup. Tessa has a new job and Hardin is at an all-time low. The rest of the movie consists of a cycle. Something dumb brings them together, they have sex, they fight and repeat that a couple more times. If this movie makes one thing clear, whether it was intentional or not, it’s that Tessa and Hardin only want each other because of two things, sex and the fact that they’re opposites. They like being with each other because it’s an unexpected ride. That being said, this movie makes unintentionally crystal clear that they do not love each other. Not once did I believe that they genuinely cared for one another. This is proven time and time again because of their fights. There is no trust between them, they do not communicate. They do not respect each other, they take advantage of each other, they basically make each other sound like the villain. The movie could have had all of this and made a statement about how toxic relationships are not cute. Instead we get a happy ending with no emotional revelation or actual realization from the characters that they’re relationship is incredibly toxic.
This movie showcases the toxicity of these characters and their relationship and it never does something about it. Dylan Sprouse’s Trevor literally says Hardin is toxic and bad for Tessa but Hardin doesn’t go through any sort of emotional or mental change and yet they get together again in the end. To give you an example of the toxicity in this movie, I have a specific scene in mind. Tessa and Hardin are not seeing each other, she goes to a work-related party in a club. She drunkenly calls Hardin which worries him. She goes back to her hotel room with Trevor showing no sign of attraction just yet. She spills wine over his shirt, he takes it off so she can clean it. Hardin then enters the room uninvited, throws a tantrum and gets angry because he suspected Trevor was taking advantage of Tessa. Trevor then leaves and Tessa, still drunk gets on top of Hardin and tells him that he has to either have sex with her or leave. Guess what Hardin does next? He takes advantage of her and sleeps with her. The worst part of all this is that the movie clearly wants them together at any cost but the sad truth is that none of them change by the end.
Now if that wasn’t bad enough, this movie completely disregards a lot of other things besides toxicity. The movie also makes light of addiction, trauma and consent. The movie makes it seem like Hardin is an alcoholic or that at the very least when he gets overwhelmed he opts for the booze. The movie later defines him as an addict when Trevor tells Tessa about his sister who dealt with addiction and warns her that this won’t end well. First off, is this movie implying that addicts cannot be in a healthy relationship? Second off, if Hardin is actually an alcoholic, the movie sure as hell has a lousy way of showing it. After a heated argument with his father he goes back to his apartment and starts drinking, completely lost in anger and frustration. The alcohol appears again after he leaves Tessa and the next and last time it appears is when he empties a bottle into the sink. Now I have not dealt with alcoholism but I’m pretty sure that you can’t really quit it just because you feel like it.
The other thing this movie flat out ignores is consent. People kiss strangers for no goddamn reason in this movie. A stranger kissed Tessa in the club, he didn’t even know her name and later in the movie Tessa kisses a random guy at a party to make Hardin jealous. It is bizarre. The last thing I want to adress is Hardin’s trauma. First off, when his mother said that therapy didn’t help but a toxic relationship did… it left a bad taste in my mouth. Secondly, I don’t know enough about trauma to really continue talking about it but I do hope that in the next two movies, it will actually be adressed.
Overall, After We Collided proves to be a very irresponsible view of love and relationships. The fact that millions of young fans are watching and thinking that this is what a relationship should look like or that it’s cute is really alarming. This made around 40 million during a pandemic, it’s literally insane how such a toxic movie could be doing so well. This is just a movie, yes but it’s also doing a lot of damage because what we watch when we’re young does actually affect us when we grow older. You don’t need to settle for a Hardin even if you don’t have a Trevor. You shouldn’t act as a cure to their trauma. Moral of the story is don’t date shitty people, kids!