“You still talk to someone at two in the morning. Nothing changed for you. It just changed for me. Can you acknowledge that, please?”
Hollywood is often accused of being super sexist, and it’s warranted. Men still get the vast majority of Oscar nominations when it comes to the Best Director category. And teenage boys seem to be the most valuable ticket buying audience based on studios sinking so much money into comic book movies. TV is the same, which is why the breakthrough of HBO’s Girls sparked so much attention and so many editorial think pieces over the last few years. I like Girls, but I’ve never seen it as some breakthrough game changer. But last year, I did see a show that earned that title, Comedy Central’s Broad City.
Girls is undeniably great, and Lena Dunham obviously has a unique creative voice. But there’s something that seems so easy and straight forward about a drama like that. Pile lots of problems and set backs onto your characters, give them none of the required maturity to handle them, and you have a season of Girls ready to go. Broad City does all of that, while also being one of the funniest shows on TV today. It also strikes more of a feminist blow than Girls by taking on male dominated TV head on, using its own tricks and tropes against it.
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City have made a show about women, that doesn’t use that as a point of difference or crutch. It’s a show about real people, that’s also hilarious, that just so happens to have two chicks at its core. And now that approach makes it to the world of indie movies, with Life Partners.
Sash (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs) are best friends. The kind of best friends who predict each other’s every emotion, finish each other’s sentences and are happiest when watching America’s Next Top Model together, over a bottle of wine. Drunk one night, they dare each other to go on blind, internet dates. While Sasha is stuck with a baritone voiced woman who’s delusional about her level of celebrity from working as a producer on a crappy reality show, Paige meets a guy who might be the one, Adam Brodie as Tim.
Now, all of a sudden, Sasha has to figure out what her life looks like if Paige isn’t always there for her. Paige doesn’t all of a sudden abandon Sasha, but a serious relationship means that, naturally, she isn’t as available to her best friend as she once was. While Paige herself struggles with what a serious relationship means, Sasha struggles with abandonment issues, and the tiny world of lesbian culture, where everyone is seemingly the ex of one of your other good friends.
Now, here’s where the Broad City tangent at the top of this review comes in. Life Partners might be centred around two women, but their friendship owes a much bigger debt to movie bros than to movie birds. Paige and Sasha call each other ‘dude’, Sasha is embarrassed to be wearing pajama pants with, ‘a hole in the dick’. This isn’t the kind of movie where the sex obsessed man is saved by the relationship hungry woman. Sasha and Paige aren’t above casual roots, and Tim never has to be convinced that monogamy isn’t a dirty word. People are just people, and none of their strengths or weaknesses are gender based
Now, as I write that, I realise that my own praise could sound back handed and sexist. But that’s not how I mean it. I’m not saying that these women are funny because they’re copying men. I’m saying there’s a whole category of comedy out there that dudes have had a monopoly on for a long time, and these women are embracing it and showing that it’s not a no girls allowed zone. I’m also saying that this new perspective gives this this category a whole new life.