My theory is that The Big Sick is actually THREE love stories and as it so happens, David Joyner a k a Fables to Film LLC, came up with a nifty take — which you can read here — which echoes my take:
A story: Kumail and Emily
B story: Kumail and Emily’s parents
C story: Kumail and his own parents
The A story follows a traditional pattern: Boy finds Girl. Boy loses Girl. Boy gets Girl. Or to be gender sensitive: Girl finds Boy. Girl dumps Boy. Girl decides to give Boy a second chance.
The B story follows the trajectory of the relationship between Kumail and Emily’s parents, Beth and Terry. And each has a slightly different version of a similar arc, going from seeing Kumail as an “It” (The Other) to a “You” (recognizing their shared humanity). Beth has the furthest to go because she feels the pain of her daughter’s split with Kumail on a personal level, some of this about Mother-Daughter dynamic. Kumail has to gain Beth’s trust. Terry, on the other hand, has less overt hostility toward Kumail in the beginning and is actually curious about what it’s like to be a Pakistani (remember his query about 9/11). He warms up to Kumail more quicky and that night they spend sleeping in the same room is kind of like two strangers in summer camp, sharing stories and getting to know each other. In the end, Beth and Terry have warmed up to Kumail, even embracing him.
The C story is another kind of love story: Kumail and his parents. They are bound by cultural traditions, especially the mother. Clearly, both love Kumail, however, it’s a stifling kind of love, intolerant of their son embracing too many Western traditions, particularly when it comes to a potential mate.
So, three love stories, each of them dealing with issues of Intolerance vs. Tolerance. But I’ll get into that in tomorrow’s session.
What do YOU think about the function of the characters in The Big Sick?