Why Riley Is The Best Character For Abby (And Us)
Happiest seasonRiley’s (Aubrey Plaza) bumped into Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) as they stepped out of the restaurant bathroom together. Abby and Harper are testing madly there because Harper asked Abby to pretend, while they were visiting her parents in suburban Pittsburgh for Christmas, that she was a) straight, b) roommate by Harper, and c) generally by a sad person, neither of which is true. Harper’s Mother (Mary Steenburgen) also surreptitiously invited Harper’s ex-boyfriend, Connor (Jake McDorman), to the restaurant.
Riley picks up on their couple vibes right away; she also experiences some mild regrets that hint at how things ended for her and Harper (Riley was Harper’s first girlfriend, in high school). We find out later, Riley tells Abby, that when one of Harper’s friends found one of the love notes the two of them had written to each other in Harper’s locker, that Harper had covered it up. admits she is gay, hangs out with Riley instead and tells everyone that Riley is. obsessed with her. Riley was bullied mercilessly. She doesn’t forget that experience, although in her case it’s not the same as “the-don’t-kill-you-make-you-stronger” and more so “Riley becomes should be safe in all parts of herself without forming grievances, so she understands Harper’s current situation with Abby from an empathetic perspective.” Her approach to Abby as a fellow The singularity is an easy revelation.
The second time Riley and Abby met was at a party, where Harper’s father (Victor Garber) are hoping to win big support for their conservative town’s bid to be the next mayor. Riley has all these beautiful touches to let Abby know she sees her, to let her know that she knows Abby is weird and heartbreaking. Riley is out now, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have the experience of hiding her gender in the small town she came from, just as she didn’t have these experiences during her residency in Johns Hopkins. Different from Harper’s hometown, Abby seems established and is working in advanced work, earning a Ph. in Art History at Carnegie Mellon. She’s a lesbian in everyday life in Pittsburgh with Harper (they also live together), but it’s not too far off for Abby to experience her gender stereotype.
Thus, Riley sees Abby as a professional colleague, a smart, strong woman who is also quirky, and in a relationship the other denies to most of the outside world. And Riley understands how painful this ending is. When Riley raised her glass with Abby at that party, it was a sign that said, “Watch this whole charade? I get it, man.” When she overhears Abby telling her friend John (Dan Levy) to stop being embarrassed that she’s hiding from Harper, she tells Abby she can be contacted, but Abby doesn’t respond. So Riley continued, happily teasing the health problems everyone asked her to diagnose, and finally, she complimented Abby on wearing the outerwear. They have a similar style, and the Plaza is a phenomenon in that the small gestures speak for an ocean.
Their main scene occurs when Harper is with her family and Abby is wandering around the downtown area alone. She was like no other, sad and alienated. She ran into Riley during the play “Blame It on Christmas,” and Riley appeared with her signature blend of sharpness, humor, and warmth. When Abby says she needs a drink, Riley sees it as Abby’s olive branch, and she knows where to take her. In The Oxwood, there’s a holiday drag show, and the mood is happy and positive, and for the first time since arriving in Harper’s family town, Abby seems relaxed. This is where they talk about what went down with Harper and Riley’s relationship.
Harper offers this to try and ease Abby’s worries; The similarities between Harper denying that she was with Riley and now denying that she was with Abby were clear to both of them, but Riley wouldn’t rub Abby’s nose in it. Instead, Riley wishes the best for both of them, being wise and honest at the same time. She will let Abby know what happened in the past and will root them in the present to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Riley’s success in life and her focus on independent success while still returning to her hometown to mingle with those who have persecuted her speak volumes about her strength as a human being. You do not gain by being bitter; Riley has become omnivorous in her acceptance.
The final interactions between the two are perhaps the most tender. At Harper’s parents’ White Elephant party, Harper flirts with Connor, while Harper and Abby get nervous. Abby tells Riley she’s never felt closer to someone and then, the next day, she feels like she doesn’t know her at all, seeing her in her overlapping differences. her family’s wealth and company. Which Harper is real? Maybe she’s both, Riley said.
Riley’s observations are the wisest in the film and summarize its core objective. There is no one way to view a situation; no Team Harper or Team Abby (I mean, yes, of course, but hear me out). Riley did not invalidate Abby’s experience nor defend Harper. What she does is take a broader view of what’s going on. She sees gray, the potential of messy situations but also complete in their mess. When Abby said she was going to ask Harper to marry him, Riley put his hand on hers; she’ll get her something stronger than crushed cider. She sees and knows that everything takes time.
From then on, Riley’s wisdom greatly influenced Abby’s journey. Towards the end of the film, she realizes there is an opportunity for a fresh start because Harper is no longer, and has never been, a stranger to her.
It was indeed the happiest season for DuVall and Dutch fans.
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