Platonic’s Finale Proves it’s the Anti-When Harry Met Sally

This story contains spoilers for the Apple TV+ comedy Platonic.

In 1989, When Harry Met Sally asked if women and men could ever just be friends, and as Seth Rogen’s Will points out in the Apple TV+ series Platonic, Nora Ephron’s classic eventually answered in the negative. Platonic takes another look at that persistent question and offers up a new, obvious answer: duh. The hangout comedy’s approach to adult relationships between opposite sexes is clear from the beginning thanks to its title, but it’s not until the season finale that everything Francesca Delbanco and Nicholas Stoller’s series has been working toward falls into place. It turns out, it’s not just a show about grown-up friendship, but a show that gives friendship the romance movie climax it’s always deserved.

It starts with a UFO. After bar owner Will and on-and-off lawyer Sylvia (Rose Byrne) finally admit that they have a tendency to break things when they’re together (smashed screen doors and collapsed garages, sure, but also relationships and jobs), they take a bit of time apart. When Sylvia and her husband Charlie (Luke Macfarlane) finally find a new home, though, they invite Will to the housewarming party, where he and Sylvia end up spotting something trippy in the night sky. Hilariously, this leads to Platonic’s version of the big rom-com breakup, a knock-down, drag-out argument that will ultimately push the characters to grow – and realize how much they need each other.

Except, Platonic isn’t a rom-com, but rather a subtly subversive mirror image of one. It’s fitting that the series’ climax is something as silly as a UFO sighting, because romantic comedies have long-since hinged their plots on ridiculous misunderstandings that could easily be side-stepped if either character had even slightly better communication skills. Platonic takes the stupidity of the big break-up trope to the next level, as Will and Sylvia devolve to calling one another names after Will’s insistence that the UFO was an alien disrupts the party and starts scaring kids. It makes about as much sense as the third-act misunderstandings in movies like Notting Hill or How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days, but since Platonic is attempting to capture the experience of authentic adult friendship, the convoluted break-up soon gives way to a simple reconciliation.

The pair make up quickly when Sylvia gets Will a job offer, but their platonic love story finally gets the ending it deserves in a coda set one year later. Just as When Harry Met Sally time jumped to show its two best friends in new phases of their lives, Platonic zooms in on Will and Sylvia again when their period of arrested development has mostly passed. Will is engaged and working as a brewmaster for a corporate restaurant chain, while Sylvia has started an event planning business. Again and again, Platonic side-steps any hint of will-they-won’t-they tension between the pair. The blatant lack of romantic story beats feels both refreshing and, for audiences who have rarely been given the chance to spend so much time watching a story about a man and a woman without a whiff of non-platonic potential, a little disorienting – in a good way.

The same holds true for the final scenes of the season (or series, since it’s a pretty conclusive ending). When Will realizes he’ll have to move to San Diego for his job, Sylvia asks what’s keeping him in LA, and he looks at her with a quiet twinge of sadness. When Sylvia sees Will show up at their friend’s wedding a year later with a fiance, the camera also lingers on her as a look of consternation crosses her face. At first, it seems like the show might finally be giving up on its anti-When Harry Met Sally premise, hinting that there’s something more between the friends after all, but that’s just because we’ve still got our rom-com goggles on. In the context of this decades-old friendship, these are just moments of bittersweet adjustment in which one person realizes their relationship with the other is shifting, offering them less time together. These small moments get to the root of the ways adult friendship is often devalued: if they were a couple, it would be perfectly reasonable for Will to stay in LA for Sylvia. As friends, their connection will always feel more tenuous in the eyes of others, even if their love is equally strong.

Platonic still gives Sylvia and Will their happy ending, though, complete with a tear jerking montage of some of their best moments together. The scenes unfold over an orchestral version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” that plays while their friend’s walk down the aisle, and it’s a moving moment that spotlights a type of relationship that doesn’t often get the on-screen consideration it deserves. This is the classic rom-com flashback that typically lets two characters know they’re meant for one another, only this time, it’s celebrating their platonic chemistry, companionship, and commitment. The pair even get their cinematic happily ever after, as the camera pans out on a final shot of them bantering about the mundane adult things that bring them joy – their partners, jobs, families, and, yes, each other. Can men and women just be friends? Of course they can, and now we have this silly, heartfelt comedy show to prove it.

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