Let’s just take a minute to applaud Lara Jean Covey, the protagonist of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the best, sweetest teen rom-com in the past decade. For she has accomplished a task that was previously only reserved for the whitest of rom-com heroines: She has two — not one, but two — of the most perfect crushes since Freddie Prinze Jr. in She’s All That battling it out for her affections. In one corner, Josh, the sensitive, vaguely hipster boy next door. In the other, Peter Kavinsky, the lax bro with the broad shoulders and the heart of gold. And at the center, Lara Jean Covey (the charming Lana Condor), a Korean-American young woman who has these two dreamy white boys staring each other down in her driveway, ready to throw fisticuffs. Be still my 13-year-old heart, for this is a (one) dream of representation. (Am I being hyperbolic? I just spent a whole weekend obsessing over a 16-year-old’s love life, so probably!)
While both crushes are perfectly engineered to make teens of all ages swoon, it’s Peter Kavinsky who has grown women actually running to IMDb to make sure the actor, Noah Centineo, is an appropriate age. (He’s 22.) Still: It ain’t right how this platonic ideal of a teen heartthrob has me, a 32-year-old, wondering if it would actually be better to be 16. How dare you, Peter Kavinsky!
What can I even say about Peter Kavinsky and why Peter Kavinsky is worthy of one million tweets about how delicious Peter Kavinsky is? And why he must always be referred to as Peter Kavinsky — never Peter, Pete, Petey, P-Dawg, P-Pants, Peetey Pablo, Kavinsky, Kavy, or anything other than Peter Kavinsky — because great crushes must always be referred to by their first and last names?
He is both an amalgamation and evolution of all the boys we’ve collectively loved before: He’s got Jordan Catalano’s floppy hair, Jake Ryan’s broad shoulders, Duckie’s emotional intelligence, Paul Walker’s cocky smile in any role, and Max Goof’s romantic dedication (I understand A Goofy Movie is a cartoon, but until someone drives across the country to get to a Powerline concert to impress you, I don’t want to hear it). It’s like they all got in a dog pile and combined into this sarcastic, sweet, dopey-eyed, emotionally intelligent romantic lead of our dreams. I could go on, and will, later, in my dreams, but now perhaps it’s best to just let a ranking of Peter Kavinsky’s best moments speak for themselves:
1. When Peter Kavinsky goes “whoawhoawhoawhoa,” takes a perfect selfie with his eyebrow arched, says “Girl, come on. You know I already got it,” and shows Lara Jean that she’s already his phone background,
bashfully splashes water in the hot tub, sits in a hot tub, gets nasty in the hot tub, drinks a chocolate shake, does that move where he puts his hand in Lara Jean’s back pocket and twirls her around, drives cross-town to the Korean grocery store just to get her favorite yogurt, watches Sixteen Candles with Lara Jean and her little sister and is thoughtful enough to express discomfort with the racial politics of Long Duck Dong, said, “You were never second best,” says “Leggo,” before leading Lara Jean into a party, drinks kombucha at a party because he’s driving, has brown eyes with golden specks in them, drinks lemon-lime Gatorade, is like “Can I use you as a pillow” and just naps on Lara Jean’s shoulder, calls her by her last name “Covey” all cute.
2. When Peter Kavinsky breathed.
Swoon. Sigh. Moon. It’s enough to make viewers wish they were a teenager again. If only all adults could correct everything they’ve done wrong in their lives, which is, most pressingly, not finding a Peter Kavinsky.