“Bottoms” is Taking the Next Step in Queer Comedy, and I’m Here For It
By Adam Kamp
Bottoms is the most recent collaboration between director Emma Seligman and comedy duo Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott. Despite limited advertisement, Bottoms has made the most out of its limited release in theaters through sheer hype and a personal understanding of its target audience. While many audience members would like every movie they see to be immediately accessible, movies in recent memory (like Barbie) have shown that both commercial and critical success don’t depend on “everyone” being your target audience, even if it may draw criticism from men who find it preachy. Bottoms took this and found its niche in the next queer generation who responded in kind by being the film’s most vocal advocates.
My first two trips to see Bottoms felt like stepping into a dedicated queer space where my identity and experience were reflected in humor that embraced the brazenly horny attitude of teenagers as well as the rampant sense of pining that we love to hate. Drawing from the exuberant, goofy, yet more restrained sense of humor found in recent films like Booksmart, Bottoms defies expectations of the American High School film. Tropes aren’t thrown out with the bathwater but are instead made to feel gaudy, queerer, or reflective of deep irony. The football players are always wearing their skintight, bulge-heavy uniforms, school rivalries are protracted, murderous feuds, and it’s still a struggle to be queer. But don’t worry, if you’re talented and conventionally attractive it will all be a breeze.
While teen flicks like But I’m A Cheerleader and elder-queer comedies like The Birdcage find comedy in deep, meaningful queer struggles, Bottoms represents a shift in humor, taste, and the reality of many young queers. What this doesn’t mean is that Bottoms is comprehensive or even representative of the majority of queers. Anti-trans laws are still being enacted across the country with 360 bills being actively considered (translegislation.com) as of this writing. So, while we will always need more queer films to address the struggles we actively face, such as Southern Comfort or A Fantastic Woman, Bottoms is playing a key part in uplifting the queer community by depicting some of our greatest, funniest, and gayest stories.
Adam Kamp is a rising Senior at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Born and raised in Manhattan, Adam grew up around theatre and the performing arts of the city. They now study Film and Media Studies while pursuing their goal of being a theatre critic.