Bottoms and the Teen Sex Comedies of the Past


Except for Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times in Ridgemont High and Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, most mainstream high school sex comedies have been made by men for men to remember their horny teenage years. We got films like Superbad in the 2000s, American Pie in the late 90s and its sequels in the 2000s, and the gladly forgotten Porky’s movies in the 80s. The last was broadcast recurrently on local TV at night throughout the 80s. And that’s without mentioning all the straight-to-video turds on video stores and cable tv. Not that they were all bad, but we can’t deny that these sex comedies done by men for men would often have casual misogyny, racism, and homophobia. The white straight dude is losing his virginity, and the rest are destined for shameful, sexless, miserable lives.

However, times have changed, and as society keeps evolving, Gen-Z enjoys diversity. With younger directors taking over the camera, movies are moving along with the audience. That brings us to Emma Seligman’s Bottoms. Rachel Sennott (Bodies Bodies Bodies) and Ayo Edebiri (Into The Spider-Verse, Mutant Mayhem, The Bear) are back together (Shiva Baby) as lesbian best friends who start a fight club to get laid with hot cheerleaders.

The high school in this film looks exaggerated, almost like a parody of the aforementioned masculine teen comedies or a daydream from a Saved By The Bell character. The football team always wears their uniforms, the cheerleaders are utterly sexualized, and the football team’s quarterback is so beloved he’s treated like a messianic entity. It’s a surreal world in which events in John Hughes and David Fincher movies can happen.

The film subverts our expectations by being both a comic and violent depiction of the angst within being out of the majority of the high school (society on the entire scope of things) crowd. Not just thematically but also in terms of filmmaking. The minute we’re convinced this is an elevated Gen-Z comedy with a Charli XCX and Leo Birenberg soundtrack, we’re hit with an Avril Lavigne song in a montage that will remind millennials of our own teenage years and the films we rented at the time. It’s funny as it is an unpredictable film in every sense. Which adds up to the overall message about sex orientation and gender dynamics.

Back to most teen sex comedies from the past decades, we all grew up seeing the white straight male fixation on sex. Unless it was Amy Heckerling being unapologetically female with Fast Times or Clueless. Those movies were mostly chauvinistic and homophobic. Well, Bottoms is gay and feminine and even more violent than those straight male movies dared to be. It was about time cause everyone deserves sex and fistfights.

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