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 doesn’t accurately represent women.
Directed by Andrew Ahn, Fire Island is a contemporary reinterpretation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. The film stars Joel Kim Booster (who also wrote the screenplay) and Bowen Yang as two friends taking a group vacation to the Pines, a part of Fire Island, New York known as a mecca for the LGBTQ community.
Flirt and drama ensue as the boys attract the attention of two much wealthier men, played by actors Conrad Ricamora and James Scully.
Watch the Fire Island trailer above.
Writer Hanna Rosin writes on Monday tweeted that “Fire Island” failed the Bechdel test, an unofficial and non-scientific metric used to judge films for having at least two female characters talking to each other about something other than their relationships with men.
“[‘Fire Island’] gets a 5 on the Bechdel test in a whole new way,” wrote Rosin, author of 2013’s The End of Men: And the Rise of Women and Editor-in-Chief for Audio at New York Magazine. “Are we just ignoring the drab lesbian stereotypes of cute gay Asian boys? Is this revenge for all those gay boy best friend years?”
Rosin’s since-deleted tweet was met with backlash. Many fans criticized the fact that she singled out “Fire Island,” which has otherwise been praised for its all-LGBTQ cast that includes many black actors.
Others found her use of the term “cute gay Asian boys” to be patronizing towards Booster, Ricamora and Yang.
Shortly thereafter, Rosin’s tweet caught the attention of comedian Margaret Cho, who has a supporting role in the film and is bisexual.
“I didn’t know I was monotonous” she tweeted. “I don’t identify as monotonous. Bitch, I’m fabulous!”
Alison Bechdel, the award-winning cartoonist who developed the Bechdel test, also chimed in, tweeting that she would be changing her criteria specifically in response to the film.
On Tuesday afternoon, Rosin deleted her tweet and issued a lengthy apology.
“What I had to say was sideline, let alone buzzkill in a fun summer movie.” she continued. “It’s a cliché, 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.”
Aside from Rosin’s criticism, Fire Island has received mostly positive reviews, with Ahn telling the Gay Times he’s on board with a sequel.
“I think for me there’s something very special about this group of friends, both as characters and as people,” he said. “I really hope we can hang out again, and maybe at least we can just go on vacation and not have to do a movie.”