‘Friends with Benefits’ Arrives on Netflix, Targeting an Older Age Group

“Friends with Benefits,” directed by Will Gluck and released in theaters on July 22, 2011, follows the story of Jamie (Mila Kunis) and Dylan (Justin Timberlake) as they navigate their relationship. After Jamie recruits Dylan to move to New York, where she lives, the two become best friends. Yet, their relationship inevitably grows, which makes for interesting comedy and another classic rom-com story.

On Apr. 2, the film already claimed the #2 spot on Netflix’s list of top-rated movies. Joining “Easy A” (2010) and “17 Again” (2009), “Friends with Benefits” becomes the newest rom-com that has a distinctive and recognizable name on the streaming service. In the past, Netflix has not been one to prioritize the rom-com genre in its catalog of films. However, Netflix and Sony Pictures Entertainment have just recently signed a five-year deal that will give the service the rights to any and all Sony films once they leave the theaters. Therefore, the release of “Friends with Benefits” onto Netflix makes sense, as it was first distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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It is interesting and important to note that most rom-coms from the 2000’s-2010s were targeted at late teenagers, as well as people in their 20s. This can be seen in the common storyline that rules “Friends with Benefits,” where the two main characters become good friends but end up “ruining” their relationship by having sexual relations. However, Netflix has attempted to appeal to a younger age group with their own original films, especially those in the rom-com genre. Examples include “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (2018), and its two sequelsTo All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” (2019) and “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” (2021), as well as “The Kissing Booth” series (2018, 2020). These films seem to target a much younger audience, with the lack of “sex talk” and even the rare kiss.

Therefore, it makes sense why Netflix decided to sign a deal with Sony. It seems to be that the streaming service was in dire need of rom-coms that target an older age group. Because the original rom-coms that Netflix had released are targeted to 10-15 year olds, it was imperative that Netflix add “Friends with Benefits” to its repertoire. Further, more conglomerate production companies, like ViacomCBS and Nickelodeon, are seemingly making deals with Netflix due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. With little theaters open because of social distancing and restrictions due to the pandemic, almost everyone looking for any and all TV or film to consume is getting their content from streaming services. More specifically, these people are mainly getting their media from Netflix, which was already wildly popular before at-home streaming became what it has become in the past year. Therefore, it can be predicted that even more classic and hit rom-coms will be making their way over to the streaming service in the future. Until then, though, “Friends with Benefits” will definitely suffice.

“Friends with Benefits” is available to stream on Netflix.

By Audrey Shaev

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