Every season, a deserving crush presents itself: someone worth talking about and tweeting about and GIF-ing on Tumblr. A person worth laying all-caps claim to in your group chat. Last fall was mostly spent begging Bradley Cooper to put on his self-tanner and grow out his beard. The winter was about asking Winston Duke’s thick thighs to save our lives. Spring was for Broadway: watching Adam Driver be big onstage and keeping “People Will Say We’re in Love” from Oklaheauxma! open in a tab at all times. But summer is here, and she demands a crush worthy of her. A wise woman once declared that Rihanna did not give us a whole line of lingerie for us to waste it on boys born in 1996. (In the interest of full disclosure: That woman was me.) So this summer we must go big or go home, probably a little tipsy and in an Uber pool, and ten minutes into the summer comedy Late Night confirms it: This is the summer of Hot Emma Thompson!
Let the rest of the world beat their brains out for a white boy of the month (and let a certain star of The Revenant continue to submit his self-tape). It’s Emma Thompson who counts this season, and the summer of 2019 will thankfully gift us a lot of her: In Late Night, she’s the veteran host Katherine Newbury, one part Joan Rivers, two parts David Letterman. In Men in Black: International, she’s the expertly coiffed, impeccably suited Agent O. But that’s not it. Come this fall we’ll see her in Last Christmas, a British romantic comedy co-written by Thompson and directed by Paul Feig. And before the year is done, she’ll appear in How to Build a Girl alongside Beanie Feldstein. I am so used to giving and now I get to receive!
Late Night is where the Summer of Emma Thompson kicks off. When Katherine Newbury’s ratings take a nosedive and a staff writer accuses her of hating women, she makes a diversity hire. Enter Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), a chemical-plant worker turned comedy writer. Even when some elements of Late Night fail to congeal — can one woman in one writers’ room really make a lazy comedian care? And, come on, not even one joke about how all the white dudes in the room looked exactly alike? — Emma Thompson is resplendent. Katherine Newbury is the only woman allowed to take her internalized sexism out on me in monologues about my incompetence! Katherine Newbury is allowed to call me by her name… or, rather, she is allowed to cruelly assign me a number to which I will answer in staff meetings! Late Night has reclaimed the Newbury name from the street in Boston where I spent way too much money during college (usually at Brandy Melville, unfortunately). Katherine Newbury’s sequined suits are the only disco ball I want to dance under!
Late Night climaxes when, after Katherine has grown fond of Molly, their relationship hits a snag. The details are unimportant; just know that Katherine eventually furrows her brow and makes amends with Molly, because this is an odd-couple comedy. And she does so by taking a black SUV to Brooklyn and climbing up six flights of stairs to go get her girl. A Maggie Rogers song plays their reunion into being, and it is the most romantic scene I’ve seen this year: Emma Thompson huffing and puffing her way into Mindy Kaling’s apartment, Emma Thompson insulting the garish lilac color Mindy Kaling’s chosen to paint her walls, and Emma Thompson demurely telling Mindy Kaling she can’t live — or, more importantly, work — without her. This is the big romantic gesture a lifetime of Nora Ephron movies promised me. Except unlike every Nora Ephron movie, Emma Thompson is the one sweeping me off my feet!
The perfect rom-com moment made me think of an extremely specific Emma Thompson fantasy of mine: I walk into Emma Thompson’s home, slip my shoes off in her mudroom, and, with mail in tow, say, “Oh, this package was downstairs for you.” Emma Thompson, standing over her oven finishing a book, would wipe some sweat from her brow and say something like, “My love! A package? For me? You shouldn’t have!” Then Emma Thompson would give me two extremely European kisses on the cheek and show me the spaghetti pomodoro she made in a big Dutch oven. I’d pour glasses of red wine for me and her and her husband. Our dinner conversation is about Sally Rooney and the Whitney Biennial and Billie Eilish. (When I call the singer “William Eyelash Curler,” Emma Thompson guffaws with laughter.) Emma Thompson asks me if I want seconds, and I shake my head politely. Then Emma Thompson disappears into the kitchen, reemerges with the Dutch oven and a pair of tongs, looks at me sternly, and says, “Hunter.” I adore her!
My favorite celebrity couple has broken up; the planet is on fire. Blissfully, the Keanu Reeves renaissance is years-long, but this summer belongs to Emma Thomspon. I would go back to middle school if Emma Thompson would be the zany nanny who picks me up late from aftercare. I want Emma Thompson to be my therapist, I want her to be my big sister, I want her to be the snobby sales associate who tells me that something doesn’t fit properly. I want Emma Thompson to text me saying, “Stop entertaining that clown of a boy just because he slightly resembles Roger Deakins!” I want to curl up on Emma Thompson’s couch as she coos more incredibly generous, incredibly accurate life advice into my ear. It is Emma Thompson o’clock! Please dress accordingly.