“Me Him Her” has a goldstar lesbian rebounding with a guy and reconsidering life

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Max Landis‘s indie feature Me Him Her has a premise that would make most queer women shudder and scowl: A lesbian gets her heartbroken by her narcissistic girlfriend and finds an unlikely connection with a straight guy who is in town helping his best guy friend (who also happens to be the star of a hugely popular TV series) come out as gay. While there is a lot to eye roll about (including the predictable ending), there’s also a lot of heart and humor to the film, which is based on a true story. (Max says he has the scar on his head from a lesbian who was upset with his “dating her girlfriend” to prove it.)

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For some reason, Gabbi (Emily Meade) loves her girlfriend, Heather, a corset and tutu-wearing Steampunk type who has no redeeming qualities. (Clearly Max Landis knows how to write only one kind of three-dimensional lesbian character, and that’s one that inevitably ends up being bisexual so that she can fall for one of his male leads.) The film opens with Heather breaking Gabbi’s heart, telling her she’s been sleeping with other people throughout their entire relationship and kicking her out of their apartment.

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Gabbi, clad in flannel and jean shorts, decides to get drunk at the local gay bar (which doesn’t look like any bar I’ve ever seen in Los Angeles where the film is based), where she meets Cory (Dustin Milligan). Cory is straight but there to support his gay best friend, and his conversation with a drunk and sad Gabbi leads to a night of endless conversation and, eventually, drunken sex. Gabbi, a goldstar, spends the rest of the film trying to figure out how the hell this could happen to her.

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Gabbi’s lesbian couple friends (played by Rebecca Drysdale in a stereotypical butch role and Alia Shawkat as her non-descript partner) try to help her to feel better about what has happened instead of shaming her, and protect her from Heather when she returns to sucker Gabbi into apologizing. Heather is the perfect portrait of an evil, self-obsessed ex-girlfriend that it’s impossible to find any reason Gabbi would have liked her in the first place. She is fiercely unlikable, except for the fact that she’s willing to swordfight Cory at his best friend’s premiere party, but even then she’s just portrayed as insane.

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Me Him Her is a farcical comedy, and the subject matter (identity, queerness) is treated with more respect than you might expect from the genre. And while there are certainly women who have come out as lesbians and later found themselves attracted to and in relationships with men (whether sexual, romantic or both), the idea that Gabbi is suddenly in love with someone when she’s fresh out of a long-term relationship dampens the idea that she’s discovering something about herself she didn’t know was there. A rebound relationship with anyone would seem unconvincing, but the idea that she’s in love with Cory (someone who, incidentally, is unhappy in his life and has no idea what he wants or no real ambition for anything specific), is a bit of a stretch. 

Emily Meade is fantastic in her role, believable and perfectly balanced in both emotional and comical moments as a lesbian struggling to figure out what her new feelings mean for her. She literally runs away from them, hoping that she can keep them at bay while also staving off the want to return to her heartless ex-girlfriend. Any person who has ever been through a tough break-up and existential crisis like this knows that the best thing she could do for herself would be to spend time alone and reconfigure what she wants and who she is. But life doesn’t always work that way.

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In a film where Gabbi’s reconfiguring of her own identity is juxtaposed with the coming out of Cory’s gay male friend, the overall idea is to embrace who you are; be yourself and live the life you want. For Gabbi, that is being OK with having feelings for someone that is not a woman. It’s disorienting, to be sure, after having gone through the coming out stage and thinking that you know yourself, to have something come along and shake that. The film is not flippant about Gabbi’s process; she is struggling, and jokes aren’t made at her expense.

Me Him Her could have been a lot more offensive in its treatment of its women characters (four of the six being lesbian/bi), but the innate humor in finding yourself in a situation you never expected is where the comedy lies, and luckily, Max Landis does not lean on familiar jokes or tropes to poke fun at queerness. (It’s worth noting that Cory is not threatened by Gabbi’s sexuality, but instead hopeful she will not see it as a barrier to their possibility.)

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Caution: Spoilers ahead. Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to know how the film ends.

However, in the final scene, Gabbi is out with a woman at that same gay bar she met Cory in when he shows up unexpectedly. He jokingly asks her to choose and she (surprise!) picks him. It’s done with a laugh and a wink, but the implication that bisexuality is a choice between genders is still very much there.

Spoilers over. Resume reading.

Me Him Her is a queer comedy with some problematic elements but ultimately provides the moral that only you can dictate your happiness, and you should, no matter what that means for who you are, or thought you were. Although most lesbians will probably never find themselves in this situation, so perhaps this is a bit of a male fantasy as experienced by one lucky guy with the access and privilege to make a film about it. 

Me Him Her is available on demand now.

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