Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri in 'Bottoms'

‘Bottoms’ Success Highlights Why Chaotic Queer Women-led Movies Work

As a lesbian myself, it’s been hard to find media geared towards my identity without it being a story about pure oppression, isolation, or being the butt of the joke. Though things changed somewhat going into the 2000s, it’s still difficult to find a movie geared towards women who love women that’s fun and whimsical, like the romantic comedies heterosexual people get to enjoy every other business day.

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However, 2023’s absolutely batsh*t wild film Bottoms reinforced why it’s so important for queer women to experience wild, funny, romantic, and off-the-wall media just like their straight counterparts.

Bottoms proves why we need more wild WLW films

Bottoms is a film that follows two high school girls as they create a female-only fight club in order to impress their cheerleader crushes. It may sound like a totally wild premise, but it works thanks to writer/director Emma Seligman and the comedic genius of her two leads, Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri. The movie is a fun take on high school romcoms and puts queer women, and disenfranchised women in general, in the forefront of the narrative.

Though Bottoms started out as a limited release film, it managed to gross over $11.9 million in the United States and Canada. This may sound like an outlier, but Bottoms really drives home the idea that queer women deserve chaotic and unhinged movies to consume, and it’s not even the first of its kind, as it walks in the footsteps of the wild films that came before it.

But I’m a Cheerleader is a staple in queer women spaces, as it tells the story of a high school cheerleader who is sent away to a conversion therapy camp to turn her straight. It’s super campy and surreal with its over-the-top wardrobe and sets, but the messaging within it is so real. Being a lesbian is seen as a problem that can be cured by being traditionally heterosexual and rejecting who you are at your core. It’s a hard watch at some points—especially when the main character is shunned by her parents—but the campy nature of the film keeps it from being too dark. I mean, the main character gets the girl by doing a cheer. That’s beyond camp.

And there’s D.E.B.S., the gay girl’s answer to the Mission: Impossible franchise. The movie explains that there’s a test hidden in the SATs which measures an applicant’s ability to fight, cheat, lie and kill. Any female student who scores high on this test becomes a member of the paramilitary group D.E.B.S. which stands for discipline, energy, beauty, and strength.

The captain of one squad, Amy, is on track to become the most high ranking D.E.B. there ever was, but everything is thrown into chaos when she meets Lucy Diamond, an infamous super-criminal known for her operations, thefts, an alleged attempt to sink Australia, and supposedly killing every agent that goes up against her. The two cross paths and surprisingly fall in love when it’s revealed that Lucy is pretty harmless despite her super villain status, and Amy dreams of being more than a super spy.

D.E.B.S. is such a chaotic film because it’s a spy movie that’s not taking itself too seriously. Instead of making their main female spy fall in love with a male love interest, they let Amy go on a wild adventure with Lucy where they fall in love on the beach and trade industry secrets despite being on opposite sides. It shouldn’t work, but it does because the movie never takes itself too seriously. D.E.B.S. knows it’s not a hard-hitting spy film; it’s a movie where two girls fall in love despite being bitter enemies.

Seeing the success of Bottoms really reinforces why we need more absurd, wild, and chaotic queer women-led movies. We don’t need more movies about trauma, pain, or heartbreak. Let our gay girls start a fight club or do a romantic cheer or be spies who fall in love with diamond thieves. Queer women are so underrepresented in media that they deserve to have some fun in The Year of Our Lord 2023.

(feature image: MGM)

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Kayla Harrington
Kayla Harrington (she/her) is a staff writer who has been working in digital media since 2017, starting at Mashable before moving to BuzzFeed and now here at The Mary Sue. She specializes in Marvel (Wanda Maximoff did nothing wrong!), pop culture, and politics. When she's not writing or lurking on TikTok, you can find Kayla reading the many unread books on her shelves or cuddling with one of her four pets. She's also a world class chef (according to her wife) and loves to try any recipe she can find.