Review: ‘You People’ presents a clash of cultures, societal expectations and generational differences

By Jose Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2023

Netflix’s newest addition in the romantic-comedy genre, “You People” presents a clash of cultures through its racially diverse couple coming together while struggling to overcome their parental pressures. The movie provides a comedic revival with sketch comedy jokes combined with problematic hot button issues.

The outstanding assemblage of talent that is Kenya Barris and Jonah Hill come together for the first time to co-write this relationship-comedy. Both these phenomenal talents convey a cringe awkwardness that balances perfectly with moments of solemness.

The rom-com highlights the themes of societal expectations between Jewish and African American cultures and how a parent’s presumptions jeopardize the couple’s bond by fusing comedy and sarcasm while proving that there’s more to love than ethnicity and culture.

Diversity in love allows people to explore new ways of finding a wholesome type of love. Ezra, played by Hill, and Amira, played by Lauren London, meet unexpectedly and their relationship begins to blossom rapidly. Showing an acceptance of diverse cultures within a relationship alludes to the main themes Barris emphasizes in this directorial debut while also writing a love letter to Los Angeles.

Ezra’s character is a rebellious and flagrant young man whose craving for his significant other’s parental approval becomes the driving factor for him to overcome any type of characteristic jeopardizing his relationship with his father-in-law, Akbar, played by comedian Eddie Murphy.

Jewish culture stereotypes and their views of minorities are demonstrated through Ezra’s mother Shelley, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who attempts to make a solid connection with Amira and her family without taking into consideration her feelings. Many of the initial encounters with Amira are tone-deaf conversations which inflict distasteful emotions onto Amira’s view of her boyfriend’s mother.

With February as Black History Month, films like these allow us to reflect on the way that cinema interprets the transcending race and the color of one’s skin by reviving new ways of appreciating messages relatable to all individuals in a universal way. The film explores current issues such as police brutality, national anthem kneeling and even hip-hop musical genres through the dismissal of stereotypes.

London and Hills’ characters bring to life the way two unique individuals blend their lifestyles and separate any prejudices or misconceptions between their families. Throughout the movie, the social barriers Amira has to overcome against Ezra’s parents are formidable and strenuous; nearly collapsing the foundation in which their love is bestowed upon.

This movie depicts societal pressures among the cultural differences between Muslim faiths coinciding with Jewish culture’s perceptions and their view on how society treats African Americans. The film displays juxtaposition and paradoxical scenes of the characters such as Ezra, living in Los Angeles as a Jewish man while assimilating to black culture and hosting a podcast with a lesbian woman.

He constantly must deal with backlash from his own parents who don’t approve of his cultural identity as a Jewish young man, preferring he would settle down with someone within their own religious community. Akbar scrupulously judges the way he appreciates sneaker culture, plays basketball and listens to hip-hop.

On the contrary, Amira’s family presents a more somber tone and is aware of the judgmental viewpoint and display these feelings of oppression through a comedic or sarcastic way of expressing how they feel. These themes of misunderstanding reappear in the film, allowing the audience to view things from a unique perspective. Ultimately both Ezra and Amira decide to live their romance free of judgment from both their parents.

“You People” shatters any social prejudices any group of people may have on love between two unique individuals who are confronted with clashes of cultures. It proves to viewers that it doesn’t matter where one comes from, one thing stands above all and that is genuine love for one another.

Bringing a new culture to another family bestows a fresh perspective into the family tree, so give yourself the opportunity to laugh and sit back and revel in this revitalizing journey of love.

Feature image courtesy of Lauren Wong

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