After seeing the trailer coincidentally on my newsfeed, I knew I needed to watch ‘Always Be My Maybe’ as soon as possible. Not only to support Asian creatives in media but also because the storyline attracted me. After watching the movie, I definitely have a few cents about why this movie was something I needed in my life.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the movie yet. Proceed with discretion!
First off, when we’re introduced to Sasha, she’s described as the one that’s going places. She’s a celebrity chef. She’s successful. She made it.
When we’re introduced to Marcus, he’s a guy working for heat and air. There’s immediately a juxtaposition between Sasha and Marcus — one has moved on to bigger things while the other is not much different from when they were kids.
This immediately stuck out to me because Sasha did exactly what I was told not to: be more successful than a man.
Growing up, my parents encouraged me to pursue my goals and be successful, but there was always a footnote of “but not as successful as your husband”. It did not matter that I had no boyfriend at the time, I was supposed to tone my ambition down in the case that I’d become too successful and turn off future suitors. After high school, my dad actually worried a lot that I wouldn’t be able to find a husband because I was too successful and ambitious.
Marcus: So you’re still planning to go to New York?
Sasha: Yeah I have to be in New York to get the restaurant up and running.
Marcus: Oh I don’t know … I just thought you’d stay here for a while ..
Sasha: I was actually hoping you’d come with me. It’d be so fun to be there with you. I’m sure there are dive bars in New York where you can play for free.
Watching this movie as an Asian woman who grew up in a patriarchal culture was super empowering because I could tell Sasha was having none of that. She was determined to open restaurants and pursue her own goals, and even post-breakup she was not slowing down one bit. Growing up, I was taught that women are not supposed to have goals of their own except the goal of supporting their husbands and their goals. If my husband is successful, then I am too.
In this film, not only is Sasha supporting Marcus and his band, but she’s also pursuing her own goals and success. Seeing Sasha defy this narrative I was fed growing up gave me even more energy and power to pursue my own goals.
Let’s talk about the purse.
Major conflict arises after Sasha takes Marcus to a red carpet event. We can see that he’s visibly uncomfortable with the whole thing — not only because it’s an environment he’s not used to with mostly celebrities, but also because his girlfriend and childhood friend is one of these celebrities. He hasn’t seen Sasha for a while and seeing how much she’s changed is discomforting.
Sasha: Don’t shame me for going after things Marcus. You’re so scared to do anything new.
Marcus: I just don’t wanna be some dude on your arm so you don’t have to show up to places alone.
Sasha: Why not? What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with supporting me? No one would question it if it was the other way around.
There may also be a sense of inferiority. He might have thought to himself, ‘What have I been doing while Sasha became this?‘ In that moment, she’s taking pictures with paparazzi but he’s reduced to a purse holder.
Sasha: I don’t need you to live my life but I need you to understand that this is my life.
In relationships, one individual may feel inferior to another because of different education levels, job experience, money, or other factors. A big take home point of this scene is that it’s important to be supportive of each other regardless of our own insecurities. No matter what Marcus was, she loved him for who he was. Even if Marcus is just an air conditioning guy in a band, Sasha wasn’t ashamed of that. She was proud as she announced to the paparazzi that he was in heat and air and she was a great supporter of their band during their concert.
The purse represented support and respect for each other. Even if Sasha is now some celebrity chef, she’s still the same Sasha that he fell in love with when they were kids. It may have taken Marcus the rest of the movie to figure it out, but I believe this was a growing moment for Marcus. When you love someone, support isn’t conditional on whether they’re rich and famous or whether you feel secure about it; you put your insecurities aside and love and support every aspect of the person. Marcus asking to hold Sasha’s purse was representative of him being willing to support her through it all, even if it meant being the guy on the side with the purse.
Marcus: Sasha Tran, can I hold your purse for you?
Sasha: That was the bad version?
Marcus: It was good? You liked it?
Sasha: I loved it.
Parent child relationships in the film
Marcus’s relationship with his dad is also something I resonate with. Marcus feels responsibility towards his family and his father. When Sasha asks Marcus to join her in New York, he doesn’t want to leave San Francisco and cites that he needs to take care of his dad.
Sasha: You’re still coming right?
Marcus: Well I’m not sure I can I got my dad and that Southies audition.
This narrative is something I’m all too familiar with. Especially as the only child of my family, I feel immense responsibility and duty to my parents to the point where I considered not going to graduate school in order to stay with my parents. But just like how Marcus is using his dad as a means of masking his own insecurities and fear of exploring the world, I was using my parents as an excuse to protect myself from my fears.
On the other hand, Sasha’s relationship with her parents is a bit more complicated. Though they are both alive, they weren’t necessarily present. Sasha was left at home often and the film opens with a scene of her eating rice and spam while her parents worked at the store. Because of this, Sasha was often at Marcus’ house where she built a bond with Marcus’ mom and felt at home because of her homemade food.
Because of Marcus’ mom’s food, Sasha was inspired to pursue a career as a chef. This ultimately allows her to reconnect with Marcus and with her parents. The scene pictured above in particular speaks to me because of how the parents and Marcus are taking pictures. Perhaps it’s because I am finding the poses very similar to how my parents take pictures — smiling and squinting as they fiddle with the iPhone buttons — but this scene elicited an emotional response from me.
There aren’t many ‘I love yous’ exchanged in my family. Telling each other we love one another is expressed through sharing food, checking up on each other, and spending time with each other. Though Sasha may still feel contempt for her parents leaving her at home alone, I believe that she understands that they were working in the store to make money in order to be better able to raise and support her. Though it’s just her parents taking pictures, this act screams “I love you” and “I’m proud”.
Pinned as a rom-com, I didn’t expect this type of commentary from the film and went in just wanting to watch it to support the work of fellow Asian creatives. Although discrete, the various relationships and interactions in the film spoke to me and reminded me of who I was, how far I came, and what potential I have. As an Asian female who grew up in a culture of patriarchy, ‘Always Be My Maybe’ reaffirmed my beliefs that I don’t need to be play down my own success in order to appease the man I am with, and that a partner that truly loves me will unconditionally support my endeavors.