One of my favorite activities to do on any given night is scan Netflix for any sort of film or tv show that features a lesbian storyline. Now you might be saying, “Meghann, there are entire sites devoted to this like Afterellen and OneMoreLesbian – why don’t you just look there?” Well, my friends – unfortunately there isn’t an easily searchable database for what I’m looking for. Most of the time, I just have to rely on my instincts, Netflix’s recommendations, and some browsing of other internet sites.
So, one of my new blog topics is going to be Netflix: Instant Watch Recommendations. Under the Gay and Lesbian tab, there are only a select few movies that are ever on there. I’m not sure why this is. There are plenty of other movies featuring lesbian/bi characters that don’t make it on the list. So, I get to do the guesswork for you. That means we’re gonna sift through the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. So for today, let’s start with the good!
Netflix description: When openly gay writer Peyton (Traci Dinwiddie) and love-starved pastor’s wife Elena (Necar Zadegan) meet, they immediately form a strong bond. But the warmth of friendship soon erupts into a sizzling affair, forcing both women to confront their unexpected yet intense feelings. By turns sensual, smart and funny, writer-director Nicole Conn’s semi autobiographical tale explores the contemporary landscape of connection and commitment.
Does it follow any stereotypical lesbian tropes or storylines?
The only one that perhaps Elena Undone falls under is the “coming out” storyline. The film is almost entirely focused around a married woman finding out who she is. Despite the focus on coming out, the movie actually handles the story really well. It not only shows the exciting and terrifying realization of her sexuality, but the realistic impacts it has on her lover, her family, and herself. It doesn’t narrow its focus only on Elena’s experience but shows empathy for all other characters caught up in her journey.
How does it stand out from the rest?
- The movie includes more than one bi/lesbian character. For example, Payton’s friend is probably the antithesis of who Payton is (in terms of relationships). It’s refreshing to see a movie portray two lesbians with two completely different personalities. Sometimes I feel like lesbians are just bunched into one hipster group sitting in each others’ laps eating pizza. Despite any sort of honesty in that image, it’s not all there is to our community.
- The romance between Payton and Elena is center stage – it’s the main story. And in line with that, the two women are actually physical with each other. There are multiple scenes where the two women get to be intimate and show that lesbians are actually normal, sexual creatures. Further, the scenes between the women are totally honest and tastefully done. They are important to the storyline because sex and intimacy are an enormous step toward a deeper relationship and in some ways, one’s sexuality. And on a less serious note, this movie holds the record for the world’ longest kiss in cinema history. Translation: 3 minutes and 24 seconds of a total make out session. Come on, lesbians need their gratuitous sexy scenes too.
- The two lesbians in the movie are totally normal. And by normal I mean they aren’t crazy caricatures of lesbians. While there aren’t any butch ladies in this film, the femme ones are not hyper sexualized. In fact, I really related to Payton in this film. Finally, a lesbian that looks and acts kind of like I do. Well, except for some of her clothes. I mean, look at those jeans. Those have got to be from 1994.
- And ultimately, the ending of this movie isn’t shitty. So many times I feel like this is a huge factor in movies featuring lesbian/bi characters. They either die, one of them falls in love with a dude, or they completely eff up each other’s lives. Even the best lesbian movies sometimes end in tragedy. Lesbian movies don’t need happy endings but if they aren’t going to get one, it needs to be relevant to the storyline. I won’t give away the ending, but the ending remains true to the story that’s being told. In other words, it won’t piss you off.
Should you watch it?
Totally. That’s really all there is to say. As with any romantic story there are totally some cheesy moments but otherwise, you won’t find any disclaimers here. Below is the trailer!