The To Do List, though, presents a less common kind of story about a girl having sex for the first time. Brandy loses her virginity to Rusty -- who's clearly not the guy she's "meant to be with" -- then has a moment of thoughtfulness before meeting up with her best friends right in time to announce her recent banging of Rusty Waters and then catch the rest of Beaches. When Brandy's dad (a hilariously anal-retentive Clark Gregg) discovers what's happened and races to her rescue, a calm Brandy reassures him, "I'm fine, Dad. I'm OK."
By sidestepping the "emotional-trauma-after-virginity-loss" construct and replacing it with giddy detail-spilling among friends, The To Do List sends up both a female onscreen teen-virginity trope and a male one: The "late-blooming virgin loses it to generically hot rando, comes away with high-five-worthy story to tell buddies" theme crops up more often in stories about teenage boys. (See: American Pie, Sixteen Candles, Almost Famous, Porky's, Road Trip, Losin' It -- and Superbad, kinda.) And perhaps more importantly, it provides a positive alternative outlook on what happens to girls who "give away their flower" or don't "guard their carnal treasure": Sometimes, they're pretty much fine.
It's not that waiting for the "right" sexual partner is a bad idea to promote among teenage audiences. Waiting for the right sexual partner is a really, really good idea. That's both for health and safety reasons, and because we can probably all agree that sex is most magical, the first time and every time, when it's between two people who are mutually trusting and nuts about each other.
And, to its credit, The To Do List seems to recognize this. Near the end of the film, Brandy finds herself face-to-face with both Rusty (with whom Brandy's just had a mildly disappointing first sexual encounter) and Cameron (who's hurt and angry that Brandy has broken his heart, used him and his friends as hookup practice partners, and slept with Rusty). Finally, she realizes Cameron is sweet, reliable, thoughtful, and the kind of guy she should have been with all along, and she tells him so.
But then: "I don't regret it," she tells him. "I'm a teenager. I'll have regrets when I'm... 30.
"And you," she says to Rusty, "are -- really hot." Does she wish she hadn't lost her virginity to him? "No. Because you are going to make an awesome story to tell my friends."
At the end of the film, Brandy is pictured a few months into her freshman year at Georgetown -- where she's well-adjusted, involved on campus, making friends, and having great sex with a guy who likes her.
Advertising to teens that they'll be perfectly fine after doing what Brandy does is, of course, a slippery slope at best. Care and caution are always a wise choice in real life. But the "hold-out-and-then-have-consensual-safe-sex-with-the-right-guy-or-else" narrative often omits the fact that if a teenage girl happens to hold out and then have consensual, safe sex with the wrong guy, it's OK for her to simply accept it and move forward, sans the seemingly obligatory emotional baggage.