For most of the media, 2013 was a historic year in gay rights: gays can now get married in such award-winning states as Delaware and New Jersey, see their prison sex fantasies come to life on HBO, and write for Sports Illustrated. But few commentators were willing to travel down to some of the darkest depths of gay culture: Bullying. Harassment. Macklemore. Even fewer were willing to examine employment discrimination or the rumored existence of a lesbian Grindr app called “Brenda.” And none, absolutely none at all, were open to exploring the saddest, darkest and loneliest corner of gay life, known as “Netflix: Gay & Lesbian.” Home to such sexy titles as “Drool,” “Cracks,” and “Keep The Lights On,” Netflix Instant proves that justice is just a pinprick on the horizon, and that gays have a long way to go from New Jersey.
For the purposes of this article, I have chosen the top ten worst gay and lesbian films available on Netflix, adhering closely to the following rules:
- All material must be streaming. I don’t know who out there has the executive capacity to actually search, rent, and return a DVD anymore, but if you do, you’re probably not reading this, because you are a genius.
- All films must come from Netflix. With few exceptions, Netflix dominates the in-home movie market. Also, the closest Redbox to my house is located outside of an abandoned 7-11, and I’m not about to bust out my Gap Rewards VISA to rent “Walk a Mile in my Pradas,” sans a bulletproof vest.
- Just because I think the main character looks great in a sports bra does not make her gay. In order to keep things objective, I went by the movies Netflix designated gay and lesbian, which were mostly on point but almost never included women in sports bras. Haters.
I’m also not about to get into a debate about what constitutes “good art” versus “bad art,” but I will say this: if the title of your movie is Guys and Balls, you’re probably on the losing side. Still, there were some important factors I examined: how nuanced was the storytelling? How imaginative were the representations? Was the movie more T or more A? Common themes emerged:
- All lesbians go to boarding school and have at least one dead parent.
- Gay men are catty and take a lot of showers.
- Bisexual women like black men, black men looove bisexual women
- No one is gay
- Everyone dies
You absolutely don’t have to identify as gay to enjoy the following list. Bad movies break bad boundaries, cougars cross color lines, and anyone who’s anyone can appreciate a carefully crafted ass crack shot. But for those of you out there who just came out or are still questioning, please be advised. The following list just might scare you straight.
10. Lost and Delirious
When Lost and Delirious premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001, expectations were high: the film was one of the few to actually feature gay content, and its star lesbian was played by Piper Perabo, the singer-songwriter-gone-sad-stripper of Coyote Ugly fame. Yet anyone who sat in the screening and managed to make it past 29:59 minutes must have wondered how they ended up in a tearjerk-off tragedy imagined by the people who brought you “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” and “So Now You Want To Kill Yourself.”
Lost and Delirious tells the story of a relationship between two boarding-school budding lesbians, Paulie (Perabo) and Tori (Jessica Pare). As romances go, it’s pretty good. The film perfectly captures the contours of every teenage relationship: the intense and sincere beginning, and the dramatic, longer than the course of the actual relationship, fallout. Yet when the two finally break up, Paulie turns into a literal lesbian predator, seen all too often in films like Notes on a Scandal, Monster, and Basic Instinct. She shatters a mirror, recites Shakespeare tragedies, and stabs a guy on his delicate inner thigh with a finely-tuned sword (all of which is pretty gay, Perabo). It’s too bad that the filmmakers let Ani Difranco into the story room when she could have just stayed on the soundtrack.
9. Guys & Balls
While the title of the movie Guys & Balls promises at least ten minutes of good dick jokes, the film never fully achieves its anticipated erection. German, independent, and featuring a very questionable highly sexualized scene in which a young boy dances in pretzel flour, “Guys & Balls” is softcore social drama at its most . . . German. Eckie is a soccer player who is ousted from his local team after it’s discovered he’s gay (“She has red pubic hair in the shape of a heart,” Eckie sadly muses, “but I’m not into it.” TMI.) He then forms his own all-gay soccer team and challenges his former teammates to a match so twee it makes Quidditch look like the UFC. The movie is simplistic and clichéd, never quite measuring up to the pornographic glory promised in its title.
Author’s Note: Although I stand by my decision to put Rent on this list, I would like to admit that I have been the victim of many karaoke and talent show renditions of “Seasons of Love.” It’s unclear to me why so many people of so many sexual persuasions want to belt “Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes” like they’ve just achieved their fantasy Verizon plan, but hey. La Vie Boheme!