In Sleeping With Other People, Alison Brie plays Lainey, a perennial cheater trying to get her life together, who strikes up a friendship with the man she lost her virginity to, Jake (Jason Sudeikis), after running into him at a sex addicts meeting. Lainey and Jake are both trying to change their ways, so they agree to keep their relationship strictly platonic. Of course, as with any good romantic comedy, things only get more complicated from there. Sleeping With Other People has been making waves at film festivals, with most buzz surrounding its frank treatment of sex. So, it's no wonder why some are wondering, is Seeping With Other People based on a true story? In truth, the film — the second from Bachelorette writer-director Leslye Headland — is not, in fact, based on reality. Funnily enough, Sleeping With Other People was more likely based on a few classic romantic comedies, such as When Harry Met Sally.
Sleeping With Other People is very much a rom-com, but it also attempts to stretch the boundaries of what a romantic comedy can be. More specifically, Headland aimed to create a believable romantic comedy, one that doesn't rely too heavily on fantasy. "But if you go too much into fantasy, then you get rom-coms like the ones that have been shoved down our throats for the last 15 years. You go, 'But none of this is believable. I don't believe any of these people exist,'" Headland said in an interview with Cosmopolitan.
The idea of a sex-filled romantic comedy is not new, but making a raunchy rom-com that's sex-positive, specifically for women, is a rare feat. Yet despite its very current subject matter, Headland didn't look at modern rom-coms for inspiration when it came to pushing boundaries, but rather When Harry Met Sally (the movie any sane film-lover knows as the ultimate romantic comedy).
"We really stole so much from that movie [When Harry Met Sally]," Headland told Cosmo. She referred in particular to a scene in SwOP detailing female masturbation that was inspired by the infamous orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally.
Headland has pointed to the Rob Reiner film as a huge influence on Sleeping With Other People in multiple interviews. The director studied the structure of When Harry Met Sally to help her stay true to the rom-com genre while also updating it for a more modern audience.
"For me, the more I could adhere to the tropes of romantic comedy and then subtly turn them on their edge, the more audiences would be accepting of the darker parts of the story — like the fact that she's having an affair with a man that's not available; like the fact that he sleeps with women and cheats on them in order to get out of the relationship," Headland told Interview. "The more that I adhered to a structure and a genre everybody has agreed upon, the more I could sneak in the subtly frustrating parts of dating."
Headland hopes Sleeping With Other People, which hits theaters on Friday, Sept. 11, might revive the romantic comedy genre, and, honestly, I do too. Rom-coms have been ridiculed for far too long. It's time to bring them back, in a big way, and Sleeping With Other People might just be the first step.
Images: IFC Films