The stars of Hulu’s “Fire Island” found themselves at the center of a social media frenzy this week after a writer argued that the LGBTQ-inclusive romantic comedy didn’t accurately represent women.
Directed by Andrew Ahn, “Fire Island” is a contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice.” The film stars Joel Kim Booster (who also wrote the screenplay) and Bowen Yang as two friends who are starting on a group vacation to the Pines, a section of Fire Island, New York, known as a mecca for the LGBTQ community.
Flirtation and drama ensue after the guys catch the eye of two significantly wealthier men, played by actors Conrad Ricamora and James Scully.
Catch the “Fire Island” trailer above.
On Monday, writer Hanna Rosin tweeted that “Fire Island” failed to pass the Bechdel test, an unofficial and nonscientific metric used to judge films on whether they feature at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than their relationships to men.
“[‘Fire Island’] gets an F- on the Bechdel test in a whole new way,” wrote Rosin, who is the author of 2013’s “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women” and the editorial director for audio at New York Magazine. “Do we just ignore the drab lesbian stereotypes bc cute gay Asian boys? Is this revenge for all those years of the gay boy best friend?”
Rosin’s since-deleted tweet was met with backlash. Many fans took issue with the fact that she singled out “Fire Island,” which has been otherwise praised for its exclusively LGBTQ cast that includes many actors of color.
Others felt her use of the term “cute gay Asian boys” to be condescending toward Booster, Ricamora and Yang.
Before long, Rosin’s tweet caught the eye of comedian Margaret Cho, who has a supporting role in the film and is bisexual.
“I didn’t realize I was drab,” she tweeted. “I don’t identify as drab. Bitch I’m fab!”
Alison Bechdel, the award-winning cartoonist who developed the Bechdel test, also chimed in, tweeting that she was amending her criteria specifically in response to the film.
By Tuesday afternoon, Rosin deleted her tweet and offered a lengthy apology.
“What I had to say was beside the point, not to mention a buzzkill on a fun summer movie,” she continued. “It’s a cliche but the fact that I didn’t see it coming means I have a lot to learn. … The last thing I want to do is pit members of my community against each other. I sincerely apologize to those who were hurt by my words.”
Rosin’s criticisms aside, “Fire Island” has received mostly positive reviews, with Ahn telling Gay Times he’d be on board with a sequel.
“I think, for me, there’s something really special about that group of friends, both as characters and also as people,” he said. “I really hope that we get to hang out again and at the very least, maybe we can actually just go on vacation and not have to make a movie while we’re doing it.”