When Netflix’s Mixtape popped up as a movie I might like, the familiar electric guitar intro from My Own Worst Enemy by Lit transported me to the 90s and I immediately pushed play. This feel-good movie follows Beverly, an awkward 12-year-old raised by her grandma. Beverly discovers an old mixtape from her late parents and unfortunately breaks it. In an attempt to save the last thing she has from them, Beverly goes on a hunt for the lost songs. Without Spotify at her disposal, her only hope is the neighborhood record store (remember, it’s the 90s).
Mixtape is one of those movies that will put a smile on your face – you’ll feel wrapped up in a nostalgic blanket, wanting to play some of your own favorite songs from back in the day.
Beverly’s Quest Finds Her New Friends
Beverly’s cure for loneliness is relatable regardless of era. When the guy at the record store tells Beverly, “a mixtape is a message from the maker to the listener,” she immediately thinks her parents left her a message (I would too!). In a desperate effort to listen to the songs in order, the record store owner helps Beverly by selling her one song at a time.
Everything’s going great until there’s a song that no one seems to have. It’s so exclusive and cool, there’s only one person in the world that could have it—Nicky, the coolest girl in school. Taking you back to those awkward days of trying to make friends, Beverly tries to connect with Nicky through lyrics. Always showing up as herself, Beverly eventually brings Nicky, her neighbor Ellen, and herself together, creating connections outside her Walkman.
I related to Ellen because her Taiwanese mom makes her take her little brother everywhere. It’s the eldest daughter tradition to have your little brother in your friend group. Adding confidence and punk, everyone starts to break out of their comfort zone, even starting their own band. It’s amazing and adorable. Beverly’s ability to be so confident as a 12-year-old confirmed that my 12-year-old self would also feel inclined to join her mixtape mission to connect with her parents. Above everything else, I would totally join their band.
Grandma Gail Is Grieving
Because Beverly is curious about her parents, she wonders if they would have liked her if they were still alive. It’s an innocent and lighthearted way to grieve, adding to the mirror that we all just want to be seen. In an effort to find answers, she asks her grandma questions about her mom. Dodging Beverly’s curiosity, grandma Gail is still grieving too.
Played by Julie Bowen (Modern Family), grandma Gail becomes obsessed with Y2K. With all the other conspiracies flying around these days, I honestly forgot about Y2K. I do remember my mom filling the bathtub though (don’t ask me how I found that one out). Using this anticipated event as a way to distract her from talking about her own daughter, Beverly seeks answers on her own. Grandma Gail reminds us that sometimes we can’t bear to remember those we’ve lost, and it’s easier to obsess over conspiracies. Regardless of age, it’s become a new way to cope.
As Beverly hears more songs from her parent’s mixtape, she starts getting out of her shell. Trying to connect with them outside of music, she starts wanting to dress like them too. It reminded me of my middle school emo days. Seeing Beverly grow up so quickly generates a need for a time capsule from grandma Gail. Instead of fighting it, she starts to embrace the connection Beverly yearns for and slowly starts talking about her daughter again. Mixtape shows how we handle grief in different ways. Some of us are curious, some of us want to forget. By sharing memories, we keep the ones we lost alive.
Music Heals Us
Mixtape reminds us that music is universal. Regardless of what genres we listen to, it connects us to those we love. Whether it’s the song that cradled you while you mended your broken heart or the one you love to dance to, music is something we can all relate to. My friends and I used to make mixed CDs for each other growing up. Some with context, others with random songs that if I played back now, I couldn’t tell you the story they were trying to tell. I’ve made a few playlists for friends on Spotify as a way to keep in touch. The labor of love slowly faded away—we forgot, life got busy.
There are ways to share how we feel without having to ever write it down. After all these years, we are still making playlists. They’re just private, very personal. You don’t have to share those with everyone, but maybe we should start making playlists for friends again. For lovers. For partners. Maybe even your parents. Tell someone how you feel about them with a mixtape. I’m serious! Go make a mixtape (or Spotify playlist) for someone you love and share it with them before it’s too late.