The most incredible thing about The Incredible Jessica James

This is not your typical rom-com

Jessica Williams.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Jessica Williams earned her stripes as one of The Daily Show's funniest and most effective correspondents with segments as incisive as they were confident. A nimble interviewer, Williams was more willing to use her opponent's strength against them than deliver the killing blow herself. But all along, her presence onscreen showed something like star power. And in The Incredible Jessica James, she fulfills that promise.

Jim Strouse wrote and directed The Incredible Jessica James, a Sundance darling picked up by Netflix and dropping today. He wrote the film with Williams in mind, and it shows: This is a millennial rom-com about a magnetic but struggling playwright who supports herself teaching and is trying to get over an ex. What makes Jessica unusual as a rom-com hero is clear from the title: She has none of the self-deprecating awkward "oops-my-purse" clumsiness that tends to plague the type. Jessica knows she's incredible. She's not surprised you think so too. She also considers herself witheringly honest — which creates some internal strain, since she wallpapers her apartment in rejection letters from people who don't agree with her self-assessment. If she clearly sees this as a phase that will lead to her eventual success, she does secretly fear that she might never make it.

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Lili Loofbourow

Lili Loofbourow is the culture critic at She's also a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Review of Books and an editor for Beyond Criticism, a Bloomsbury Academic series dedicated to formally experimental criticism. Her writing has appeared in a variety of venues including The Guardian, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Slate.