In the new raunchy teen comedy, “Bottoms,” directed by Emma Seligman, a pair of lesbian best friend outcasts form a fight club in an effort to win over their crushes on two of the most popular cheerleaders in school. Josie (Ayo Edebiri) and PJ (Rachel Sennott) deceive their crushes and the girls of their “self-defense” club by telling them they were in juvie to establish their fighting credibility. This is only the start of their scheming and unhinged plan.
The film has garnered widespread attention despite its small theatrical release, only first releasing in 10 theaters and earning $51,625 per venue according to Slash Film. The film currently holds a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and is being released in hundreds of more theaters across the U.S. and Canada in the following weeks.
“Bottoms” is vastly different from Seligman’s first indie feature film, “Shiva Baby,” which also stars Sennott, with its dark comedy, bold plot, and fearlessly queer story. Seligman has expressed her desire to create queer cinema that is not limited to the confines of queer trauma.
In an interview at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Downtown Los Angeles, Seligman stated “I think I wanted to make something where queer people could watch themselves and not have to think too hard about their identity… Just see themselves and be entertained.”
Seligman and Sennott, who co-wrote “Bottoms,” recognized a young queer female audience that was being consistently ignored or underrepresented. Recent shows and movies that feature sapphic characters or queer storylines have been canceled an overwhelming amount of times.
This includes shows like “First Kill,” “A League of Our Own,” “Batgirl,” “Everything Sucks,” “I Am Not Okay With This” and “Willow,” which features “Bottoms” actress, Ruby Cruz. This list can go on and on. The fight for queer female representation is getting louder with many fans taking to social media to voice their opinions.
The online fanbase for the queer fantasy show, “Warrior Nun,” was relentless about bringing back the show for another season and it worked. “Warrior Nun” secured a follow-up film trilogy in response to the devoted fan campaign.
As this can be taken as a win, it’s disheartening that fans even have to fight this hard at all. The sapphic community deserves to be represented on screen and not only for a limited time. It’s time that studios recognize the impact they could have if they listened to their audiences.
The success of “Bottoms” proves that there is a demand for queer stories and studios are missing out on serving this audience. “Bottoms” has already been named the best-reviewed comedy of the year according to Rotten Tomatoes and “best per-screen average of the pandemic era for a movie that opened on ten screens or more” since the Oscar-winning “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which also features a lesbian main character.
Anyone who is paying attention can see that sapphic stories are coveted, and arguably more importantly they are marketable. These stories are not only limited to the LGBTQ+ audience but can be understood and appreciated by everyone. They involve common human feelings like love, desire and self-identity.
Not only does “Bottoms” feature a widely queer character list, many of the cast members identify as queer in real life. Cruz, who plays Hazel, openly identifies as queer and expresses her gratitude for being able to play queer characters like Hazel and Kit Tanthalos, from the canceled Disney+ series “Willow.”
“If I grew up with a princess like Kit, rooting for the relationship between her and her best friend. I feel like I would have understood myself a lot more, way sooner. There is such massive value in seeing yourself represented, and to be able to see the effect it’s had on the audience is so rewarding,” Cruz said in an interview with Photobook.
In an interview with Vulture, Edebiri expresses her thoughts on the public’s desire to identify her sexuality. She refers to the situation with “Heartstopper” lead, Kit Connor, who was forced to out himself after accusations of queer-baiting and how damaging this can be. Edebiri chooses to not label her sexuality outright.
Sennott indicates that she feels similarly. “Sexuality is honestly fluid. And it becomes this whole thing where people demand to know stuff about you. It’s a little invasive, honestly,” Sennott said.
Seligman is more open with her sexuality and admits she previously identified as bisexual but has since stopped dating men before creating “Bottoms.”
“I don’t think anyone should feel pressured to put a pin on their sexuality…Any public-facing person who doesn’t identify what their sexuality is, people assume it means straight. And that’s so often not the case,” Seligman said.
“Bottoms” has the potential to become as widely loved as other popular teen comedies like “Superbad” and “Easy A.” It has the chemistry, talented cast, and hysterical writing that all teen comedies need but now with queer representation that young people desperately crave and deserve.