Bottoms: A Subversive Take on Queer Representation in American Teen Comedies


Bottoms challenges stereotypes with messy and funny characters, and subverts traditional queer representation in a film that is both empowering and parodical.

Female-Focused Films Break Stereotypes

This year saw an influx of female-focused films, but it is rare to see one about women who are flawed. In a throwback to the early 00s, ‘Bottoms’ features two teenage girls starting a fight club to hook up with cheerleaders and lose their virginities. Directed by Emma Seligman, the film subverts expectations and challenges traditional stereotypes of women in cinema.

Shitty Characters Empowering Women

The film’s tagline ‘A movie about empowering women (the hot ones)’ has received mixed reviews, as ‘Bottoms’ parodies and questions the portrayal of young women in similar films while also being genuinely empowering. Seligman, the director, and co-writer Rachel Sennott intentionally created messy and insecure characters, challenging traditional norms of female representation.

Challenging Teen Movie Tropes with Queer Characters

The film inserts queer women into the teen movie genre, aiming to challenge the notion that teenage girls are not as horny and obsessed with sex as boys. The characters’ unfiltered desires are emphasized, representing a departure from the traditional depiction of queer characters in cinema.

Unapologetic Queerness Without Labels

Seligman deliberately avoids making queerness the central plot point, steering away from the common narrative of repressed sexuality and coming out. The film portrays the protagonists as ‘losers’ not because they are gay, but because of their individual flaws and insecurities, allowing for a more diverse portrayal of queer characters.

Cultural Satire and Outsider Perspective

The film satirizes American high school life, bringing an outsider’s perspective to the portrayal of footballers, small-town dynamics, and teenage escapism. The director, influenced by her Canadian background, intentionally creates a caricature of American high school life, adding an element of fun and escapism to the movie.

Expanding Queer Representation in Film

As ‘Bottoms’ challenges stereotypes and traditional norms, it expands the representation of queer characters in cinema and provides a fresh portrayal of queerness in high school. The intentional casting and portrayal of characters challenge traditional norms and offer a more diverse and inclusive representation.

Empowering Soundtrack and Audience Reception

The film’s soundtrack and intentional portrayal of ‘hot’ characters have resonated with audiences, especially on platforms like TikTok, where the characters have garnered attention and admiration from queer audiences. This intentional and unintentional portrayal contributes to a more positive and diverse representation of queerness.

Availability and Reception

‘Bottoms’ is currently showing in cinemas, providing viewers with a subversive take on queer representation in American teen comedies.