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The 5 Best Gay and Lesbian Romantic Comedies On Netflix

The 5 Best Gay and Lesbian Romantic Comedies On Netflix

Queer films often get ghettoized to a point where if you
aren’t actively looking for them, you probably won’t see them in the spotlight,
not unlike looking for an original cast recording of Company. You have your once in a while bursts of recognition, like Brokeback
or Milk, but queer romantic comedies specifically almost never see
the light of day outside of either your indie theater, your LGBT film festival,
the Gay and Lesbian section on Netflix, or that unfortunate friend who actively
decided to buy Were the World Mine on DVD. But why is it that way, beyond the obvious reasons of heteronormativity
in mainstream media? So, I took it upon myself to plop onto my bed with my tub
of ice cream, my stone cold bitch face, and my Netflix account to explore all that could technically qualify as a queer romantic comedy on Netflix, coming up with a personal 5 best, and a personal five worst.

Here are the best (click here for the worst):

1. But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) | Directed by Jamie

Perhaps Jamie Babbit’s But I’m a Cheerleader
stands out as one of the best known queer romantic comedies, entering into a
cult status worthy of a lighter, less gross John Waters who decided to take
John Hughes to the prom. Babbit never uses its primary conceit – a young woman
is sent to an “ex-gay” camp – as a way to manipulate the audience and instead
uses the ridiculousness and absurdity of such camps to engender real humor and
reveal genuine pathos in its characters. The film doubly works as a way to
allow its protagonist, a spritely Natasha Lyonne, to explore her sexual
awakening in a non-cringe worthy way. What often sets back queer movies in
general is their tendency to tread the same ground over and over again. Not
that coming out or sexual awakening does not have a place within queer cinema,
just that the methods of doing it have become stale and have been drained of
their uniqueness. But Cheerleader avoids these clichés,
its script elevating it from merely campy to superbly sweet. WATCH IT HERE. 

2. Another Gay Movie (2006) | Directed by Todd

Ostensibly, Another Gay Movie plays like an
impossibly grosser gay remake of the saucy teen movie standby American
. And while the film definitely
goes in some very graphic directions (this film is not for the faint of heart),
it nails the complexity and awkwardness of gay sex and desire in a satisfyingly
amusing way. As one of the characters in Andrew Haigh’s supreme romance Weekend
argues, the straight narrative is inherited and fed to us, including how to
have sex. So, thus, there’s some unsureness and inherent need to experiment and
make terrible mistakes when exploring
gay sex simply because that narrative does not really exist within immediate
reach. With that in mind, it makes sense that the four leads go to various
extremes when trying to lose their virginity (cruising, chat rooms, butt
implants, etc.). But, to be sure, Stephens’s brand of comedy is totally
tasteless, and I suppose that might be part of the charm. It acts as a kind of
middle finger to the other teen films and conventions for denying queer people
the visibility we have desired, even in dumb teen comedies about what everyone wants to some extent: sex. WATCH IT HERE. 

3. Heartbeats (2010) | Directed by Xavier Dolan

I know a lot of people who hate this film, and
it came to me recently that my defense of this film will always be “love is
ostentatious”. Dolan’s hyper stylist comedic romance is part Jules
and Jim
, part Husbands and Wives, part When
Harry Met Sally..
. But, though many use the term
as a pejorative, the distinct style and tone of the film benefits exactly what
Dolan intends to do: examine love in general and examine love for a specific
group of people, one of whom decides to spend an outlandish amount of money on
a sweater. Its cinematic love triangle involves Dolan’s Francis and Monia Chokri’s
Marie falling, for the Adonis Nicolas, affecting both of their views on
infatuation as well as the dynamic the two have with one another. Slow motion
shots abound, as Dolan turns his creative eye to being a queer Wong Kar-Wai.
Though one could be easily jarred by this remark, Heartbeats glorious
complement’s the Hong Kong director’s mediation on desire, In the Mood for Love,
using its style as a way to
explore the inherent craziness of infatuation itself
. Raw, searing, and
often very funny, Heartbeats is a gorgeous and outstanding sophomore feature from
the Québécois wunderkind. WATCH IT HERE. 

4. Gayby (2012) | Directed by Jonathan Lisecki

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if
a gay guy and a straight woman decided to have a kid together? No? Just me
then? Anyways, Matt (Matthew Wilkas) is approached by his straight best friend
Jenn (Jenn Harris) when she realizes her biological clock is ticking. Both of
them, all the while, attempt to sort out their own personal lives, trying to
not let what essentially amounts to sex a la carte get in the way of that. Yes,
Lisecki could have explored the nuances of sexual fluidity a little bit, but in
a way, it may have been a blessing that he didn’t, lest the film be bogged down
by over contemplative plot points about sexual awakening (something handled
clumsily in Puccini for Beginners). Lisecki instead occupies his time
making the leads as likable as possible, but, honestly, the two are so charming
that they don’t need much help. It’s impressive, though, that Wilkas and Harris
don’t fit the conventional “type” for romantic leads, attracted to one another
or not. They look like, for lack of better words, like human beings. By Lisecki
getting “types” out of the way, he lets the two real life friends play off one
another with warm chemistry. It’s airy and light and, for better or worse,
cozily fluffy. WATCH IT HERE.

5. Bear City (2010) | Directed by Doug Langway

Bear City is the niche-iest queer
romantic comedy you could possibly imagine, unless, of course, someone decides
to go out there and make a movie about my deep adoration for twinks whose
hobbies include watching Bergman films, making snarky remarks over coffee, and
fawning over Xavier Dolan’s hair. Oh, well, Bear City is a romantic
comedy about a fairly slim guy, Tyler (Joe Conti) who realizes that his main
attraction, or type, is to “bears”, a subgroup within the gay male community
defined by being older, with body hair, and more rotund. It ends up being a
kind of daring film, one that explores the politics of age, size, and sex in
impressively competent way. It’s hard to think of heterosexual people creating
a community based around their designated type (not to say they don’t exist,
lovers of people named Beyoncé), but the gay community, to my understanding,
thrives on labels and subcategories. Without pandering, Doug Langway’s film
investigates, through a number of different relationships, the complications of
being empowered and derided for one’s self-proclaimed label. It’s supremely
fascinating, especially to those outside of the bear community, to see how
these relationships function, through modes of polyamory, jealousy, commitment,
unspoken desires, etc. One wonders, though, if the existence of this film, as
if to solidify such a community’s existence, exacerbates the problems within
the queer community with regard to labels. It touches on the subject of
assimilation and separatism, but doesn’t go further, and probably for the
better, lest it collapse in on itself. And, though it runs a bit too long, it
is one of the few genuinely hilarious, if often very graphic, queer romantic
comedies on Netflix. WATCH IT HERE. 

Honorable Mention: Chasing Amy (1997) |
Directed by Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy, though it is
listed under Netflix’s Gay and Lesbian section, doesn’t technically fit into that category as tidily as one might want it
to (sort of like those jeans I bought in West Hollywood a month ago, because
they’re slack).  It’s technically about a straight guy (Ben
Affleck) whose life is turned upside down when he falls for a lesbian (Joey
Lauren Adams). So, then, it ends up being more about the straight guy than the
queer woman, which is, to some extent, understandable as the film appears to be
from his perspective primarily anyways. But Kevin Smith nonetheless respectably
explores the complications of an out lesbian engaging in a relationship with a
man, making the inclusion of that element mildly commendable. Chasing
is most surprising because of its maturity and complexity, the
surprise having to do with Smith’s trademark adolescent sense of humor.
However, Smith uses his unique ear for dialogue to flesh out complex
characters, to explore sex and sexuality, to examine love and friendship, to
give agency to his lead female, and above all, to win over the audience in this
moving and charming romantic comedy. WATCH IT HERE.

Click here for our “worst” list.

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