Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. We’re all in love with Peter Kavinsky right now, am I right?
Who is Peter Kavinsky?
Peter Kavinsky is one of the main characters in the fantastic film To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. The film is an adaptation of a young adult novel of the same name, written by Jenny Han. It tells the story of Lara Jean Covey, as she navigates junior year of high school and — even worse — her emotions.
So where does Peter come in? Well, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before reveals that Lara Jean wrote love letters to five guys she had a crush on, as a way to deal with her overwhelming emotions. Lara Jean’s sister Kitty decides to mail those letters as a way of helping Lara Jean break out of her shell.
One of those letters goes to Peter. Peter was the first boy Lara Jean ever kissed. At a party in seventh grade — her first boy/girl party — they played spin the bottle. Lara Jean kissed Peter, despite knowing that her best friend Gen had a crush on him. Nothing came of the kiss beside a pleasant memory and a mild crush, resulting in the letter.
After their seventh grade kiss, Peter doesn’t interact much with Lara Jean for years. He begins dating Gen, and they stick together for quite some time. Peter is popular and cool, something Lara Jean definitely is not. Gen also considers Lara Jean an enemy, so they don’t interact much.
All that changes when Kitty sends the letter. Peter confronts Lara Jean, telling her that while he is flattered by the attention, it’s not going to happen. Lara Jean is just fine with that — until she sees another letter recipient, Josh, who had been dating her sister Margot. In an effort to distract Josh, Lara Jean kisses Peter, then runs away.
Being randomly kissed by a girl you rejected, who then runs away, was a little confusing for Peter. He was already in a rough state because Gen dumped him for a college guy. He turned down Lara Jean because he wasn’t over Gen and wasn’t okay to be in a relationship.
However, Gen finds out that Lara Jean kissed Peter, and she’s mad. So that gives Peter an idea. He goes to confront Lara Jean later, pushing her to tell him the truth about the letter received. Finding out he was one of five who received a letter bruises his ego but reassures him that Lara Jean isn’t secretly in love with him.
That lets Peter make a proposal: he and Lara Jean should pretend to be dating. He figures it will keep Gen’s attention on him, maybe making her regret ever dumping him. Peter just wants to be back with her, because he cares about her. He also thinks that this will help Lara Jean avoid dealing with the Josh situation. Lara Jean reluctantly agrees.
They set a contract for their fake relationship, establishing ground rules. Lara Jean insists that they not kiss, which throws Peter. How will anyone believe they’re dating if they don’t kiss? But Peter is a good guy, so he doesn’t push it. In return, Lara Jean agrees to go on the school ski trip with Peter, assuming they’re still “together” at that time.
Things start off great. Peter seems to enjoy his pretend relationship. It certainly works to get Gen’s attention, though she doesn’t ditch her college guy for him. He gets into the subterfuge, writing Lara Jean little notes because he knows it will piss Gen off. He and Lara Jean also get along pretty well. What could go wrong?
The problem is when they planned out this fake relationship, neither Peter nor Lara Jean expected this to last very long. Gen doesn’t take the bait quickly, though, seeming content to confuse Peter and string him along, regardless of if he’s dating someone else.
With the continued time spent together, Peter starts to develop real feelings for Lara Jean. He respects her for standing up to Gen and speaking her mind. He thinks she is smart and fun to be around. Lara Jean gets along with his friends and makes him happy. It doesn’t hurt that Lara Jean is adorable, of course.
What really seals the deal for Peter is how he can talk about real things with Lara Jean. Peter’s dad left his family, eventually remarrying and having a new child. Peter feels bitter about this, as he thinks he was tossed aside. How could his father leave the family? Did he not love them? He tries to balance his bitterness with his continuing love for his father, but it’s difficult.
Lara Jean understands the struggle. Her mother died when Lara Jean was young, leaving a similar, if not quite the same, hole in her life. She lets Peter actually feel his feelings, and he is happy to have someone who understands him and cares about what he thinks. So he quickly falls for her, despite their relationship being “fake.”
Eventually, things come to a breaking point. On the school trip, Lara Jean decides to show Peter that her feelings are real, too. Sadly, Gen sabotages things before they can reach their happy ending. In the end, though, Lara Jean realizes that Peter is a great guy and genuinely cares about her. She confesses, he tells her he loves her, and they start a real relationship.
Why is Peter Kavinsky Bae?
Noah Centineo is dreamy. He is, seriously and honestly, one of the cutest men I’ve ever seen. As Peter Kavinsky, Centineo brings the ultimate popular kid charm and good looks but tempers it with sheer adorableness. Yes, he has classic good looks, with fantastic hair and pretty eyes. But have you seen his smile? Angels weep. It is just too cute.
Peter Kavinsky is the ultimate bae because he is genuinely sweet. Sure, he’s the love interest in a young adult rom-com, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he has to be sweet. How many of these movies feature a dark, broody male lead? Or an asshole who’s “improved” by his feelings for the kind female lead?
Not so with Peter Kavinsky. Instead, he’s sweet right from the start. He gives Lara Jean a ride home from the diner where they meet, even before they agree to start dating. He then starts driving Lara Jean and Kitty to school and back every day, knowing that Lara Jean is not a confident driver.
Peter frames the “love notes” as a way to get back at Gen, but there’s more to it. Sure, he suggests it at first because Gen always wanted him to write her notes, and he didn’t. Giving Lara Jean notes would surely antagonize her. But he could just hand Lara Jean a piece of paper with a heart on it. Instead, he actually writes her sweet things, like complimenting her on schoolwork.
Lara Jean doesn’t quite get it, at first. Peter points out that he went to get her special favorite yogurt, despite having to go to a specialty Korean grocer across town. He tells her that he did it because he wanted her to have something she liked. She doesn’t read the notes until they “break up,” only then realizing how sweet Peter is.
Sure, Peter teases Lara Jean. But it’s not mean-spirited in any way. That’s just Peter’s personality. He jokes with Lara Jean and play fights with Kitty (who he actually gets along with really well). He wants to make people happy; that’s just who he is.
Peter Kavinsky is also bae because he is the ultimate wish fulfillment of all my high school dreams and crushes. It’s like Jenny Han visited teenage me and found everything perfect, then wrote it into Peter’s character.
Think about it. There was a real potential for Peter to be just the worst. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before actually pulls a slight bait-and-switch. At first, it seems like Josh is going to be the love interest. He was friends with Lara Jean before he dated Margot. Lara Jean’s feelings for him are strongest and most recent. It seemed logical.
But instead, we get the perfect guy in Peter. At first glance, he seems less suited to Lara Jean than Josh. He’s popular, an athlete with a large group of friends. He goes to parties where people play beer pong. Lara Jean, on the other hand, is a loner with one (1) friend, who never socializes or does anything like go to a party.
In that situation, the typical rom-com would have Lara Jean change herself to suit Josh. She would start wearing flashier clothes, drinking and partying to show herself “worthy” of the popular jock. That is not what happens here, thankfully. There’s never a moment where Peter makes Lara Jean feel unworthy of being with him or lets anyone else do so.
Instead, Peter values Lara Jean for who she is. He says he loves having a smart fake girlfriend. He asks her to go to parties with him but doesn’t abandon her or pressure her. Peter never pushes Lara Jean’s physical boundaries. There’s no question of her changing her appearance since he loves the way she dresses. It’s everything high school me could have dreamed of.
What’s Not To Love?
Peter Kavinsky is, without a doubt, the ultimate bae. He’s a cute, sweet, friendly guy who falls in love with Lara Jean for who she really is. He never wants her to change or be anything other than herself and loves her for it. I mean. Honestly. That is the dream.
Given two seconds on the internet, I know I’m not alone in my love of Peter. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a massive hit, and a large portion of that comes down to Centineo’s fantastic effort. Little moments — like Peter spinning Lara Jean around, or saving the popcorn bowl when he play fights with Kitty — were all Centineo, which only makes the character better.
Too often, romantic comedies half-ass the male lead. Standards for men in the dating world are usually pretty low, so a male protagonist in a rom-com can get away with being a jerk, or uninteresting, or any other negative quality. Not so with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Instead of half-assing it, they gave us the best possible male lead.
Peter Kavinsky is a dreamboat. He’s classically attractive, with a super cute smile to boot. He genuinely cares about Lara Jean and wants to make her happy. He’s open about his emotions, freely confessing to Lara Jean that he loves her. He gets along with Lara Jean’s family and sweetly introduces her to his family.
Take notes, people interested in dating women: we want a Peter Kavinsky. We want someone who cares, wholeheartedly and unabashedly. We want someone who is cute, sweet, and friendly. Most of all, we want someone who loves us for who we are.