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‘Bottoms’ is a satirical refresh on the coming-of-age story

Collegian | Dylan Tusinski

Perhaps the most well-known storyline in American film culture is that of the high school coming-of-age movie. The age-old tale of jocks versus losers and how the latter rises to the occasion, beats the bully and gets the girl, and everything shakes out all right is a story that has been told repeatedly in film and television. The movie “Bottoms” takes this trope and makes it into a scrappy LGBTQ+ satire stacked to the brim with big names — and it’s just the absurd coming-of-age story that the world needs right now.

The film stars Ayo Edebiri (Josie), known for her work in “The Bear,” and Rachel Sennott (PJ), known for “Shiva Baby,” are at the forefront of this tale playing two teenage lesbians looking to lose their virginities to their longtime cheerleader crushes, Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) and Brittany (Kaia Jordan Gerber). After an altercation between Josie, the front bumper of Josie’s car and Isabel’s all-star quarterback boyfriend Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine), PJ and Josie lie their way into starting a fight club with their reluctant acquaintance Hazel (Ruby Cruz), under the guise of protecting girls against the violent rival football team.


The blown-up campiness of the high school hierarchy — with the uniformed football players being worshipped at the top and PJ and Josie very clearly at the bottom — highlights the dichotomy between the characters. The story is told in a way that is sincere in its absurdity and commitment to the bit, creating a perfect setting for this coming-of-age story that might seem, interestingly, even cheesier if it were less outrageous.

Additionally, the film takes the trope of the male underdog getting a happy ending and the popular guy getting what he deserves and flips it on its head. It gives the John Hughes-style coming-of-age story an LGBTQ+ take, flipping only the gender of the protagonists and amplifying everything around them in a way that reinvents the concept of satire itself. Making the main characters gay women instead of straight men completely alters the dynamic of the story; it creates a narrative in which women are both the scrappy, lust-motivated protagonists as well as the ethereal and seemingly perfect love interest. It takes a very stereotypical trope in which women are traditionally objectified or made into a “manic pixie dream girl” and shows them as multifaceted and lively personalities — you know, like how women are in real life.

All in all, “Bottoms” takes a long-running, hackneyed coming-of-age narrative and refreshes it for a new generation. It is woman-centric while still incredibly forward and not very polished, which has traditionally been difficult to find in the media. It’s bloody and raunchy, and despite being an incredibly obvious satire, it’s genuinely heartfelt at its core. It’s by and for a generation that craves gay love stories that don’t end in tragedy.

Reach Hailee Stegall at or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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