Despite its title, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is not about Scott Pilgrim, not entirely. It’s also about bisexual blader Ramona Flowers, who Scott Pilgrim wants to date — and her League of Evil Exes he has to contend with first.
Netflix’s animated take on Scott Pilgrim has a lot in common with the 2010 live action movie. For one, they’re both based on the same source material, a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley. It also shares the same cast, including but not limited to Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Brie Larson, Anna Kendrick, Ellen Wong, and Alison Pill. (Go ahead, read that list again. PHEW. It’s like a quarter of my celebrity crushes all in one place.)
The show also shares some stylistic similarities with the movie, with comic-book imagery and 80s video game vibes. However, being animated, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is able to take that to the next level and lean into the surrealism with an anime flair. It’s a cute and fun style that really lends itself to the wackiness of the story. The logic of the world is never fully explained, which means anything is possible, and the unexpectedness makes everything that much more fun.
It does have some significant differences from the movie, though, in ways I personally think are improvements. For example, it centers more around Ramona than Scott. Ramona has magical powers such as rollerblading across people’s dreamscapes and being able to bleach and dye her hair regularly without causing any lasting damage. And the reason we know Ramona Flowers is bisexual is because one of her exes in aforementioned League is Roxie Richter.
Roxie and Ramona have sweet interactions and she’s treated as equal as any of Ramona’s other exes. In the movie, Ramona writes Roxie off as a bicurious fling, but in the show she’s just another ex, like Lucas Lee or Gideon Graves. It’s a very refreshing update. In general, this show does a great job of using the movie as foundation but building upon it, giving Ramona more agency and more complexity.
Even as it deviates from the film, there are cute moments where the original is referenced. To avoid spoilers I’ll give you just one small example: At one point in the show, the Sex Bob-ombs are riffing on a new song and try out lyrics that are pulled from the movie’s Scott and Ramona garlic bread conversation.
The Scott Pilgrim movie is imperfect, employing casual racism, the r word, and fat jokes as humor. The show simply erases those moments, realizing its mistakes, and fixing them. Maybe some Scott Pilgrim purists (are there Scott Pilgrim purists?) will take issue with the way the show departs from the movie, but I personally loved every change. We’re in a time where arguably too many things are getting remade and rebooted with little to no value add, and it has only been 13 years since this movie came out. It was a big challenge, but they proved themselves capable of surmounting it. This show literally has the same creators and actors involved, works from the same source material, and even has some identical shot-for-shot moments, and still it manages to make it feel like something totally new. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is a shining example that things can be updated and improved with enough newness to make it worth it while keeping the heart and charm of the original.
Overall, I really enjoyed this show. It’s a unique way to tell the story of two people who need to untangle themselves from their baggage and deal with their shit in order to forge a new relationship. Never let the burden of potential bad futures stop you from taking a chance on happiness in the present.
Here’s a thing about me: I don’t like romance media. Movies, books, TV shows, if the main point is romance or pining or dating, I’m not likely going to enjoy it very much. I know that’s the bread and butter of a lot of media, and I know I’m in a minority for feeling this way, but it’s just not for me. Dating isn’t a priority in my life, and I don’t connect to fictional characters whose priority is dating, either in general or dating one specific person. All that said, one way to get me to care about a romance is to sneak it in while I was paying attention to other fun stuff. Keep me entertained with vampire slaying and I’ll barely notice how invested I get in two witches falling in love until they’ve fully latched onto my entire heart. Distract me with two best friends in opposite warring factions and suddenly I’m crying in my cornflakes for the honor of Grayskull. Tell me a story about ghosts and gardeners and let me not realize until it’s too late that it’s a tragically beautiful lesbian love story.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off doesn’t hide its premise quite as well as those shows, but it has enough jokes and fighting and goofs and lore to keep it from being only a love story. It’s a love story and an anime fight fest. It’s a love story and an 80s video game. It’s a love story and a comic book come to life. And I’m in lesbians with every minute of it.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is now available to stream on Netflix.