You’ve probably seen the trailers and the tweets about Blockers, a crass comedy about three parents who scramble to stop their daughters from following through with a pact to lose their virginities on prom night. It’s like American Pie meets Superbad, but from a female perspective. This spring’s surprise raunchy hit did not advertise itself as a film with a prominent lesbian storyline.
My wife and I went to see Blockers at the theater last week, partly because we needed a laugh and mostly because it’s directed by a woman. But what we got was a poignant, hilarious film that follows relationships and families that reflect some of the ones that actually exist, including a daughter struggling with her sexual identity and an absent father searching to find a way to support her.
Blockers is Kay Cannon’s directorial debut, but you know her work. She’s produced all three Pitch Perfect installments along with Netflix’s Girlboss and lots of episodes of New Girl and 30 Rock. The deft and brevity Cannon infuses into these young girls, who actually talk like teen girls talk and act like teen girls act, is one of the biggest testaments to our need for more women behind the camera, and for more studios to distribute films directed by women. Blockers is bawdy as hell, and it’s damn proud of that.
Now, lez move on to the good stuff. Blockers, more than anything, is about human sexuality, in all its forms. It’s also about how empowering it is as a young woman to take ownership of that sexuality. Actress Gideon Adlon (fun fact, she also played teenage Annie in the NBS mini-series When We Rise) plays Sam, one of three best friends who vow to have sex with their dates on prom night.
It becomes clear early on that Sam is the least comfortable with this pact, because her date is a super awkward guy named Chad, and she happens to have a major crush on fellow classmate and out lesbian, Angelica. Sam, who hasn’t told her friends she’s gay, continuously tries to pep talk herself into getting down with the penis, if for no other reason than to confirm the fact that she just doesn’t like it.
While all this is happening, her inappropriate, under-involved, oversharing father Hunter joins the two other parents in their search to stop their kids from fulfilling the pact. However, Hunter’s end goal is not the same. He doesn’t care if his daughter has sex, but even from a distance, he’s gathered that his daughter is a lesbian, so he doesn’t want her compromising who she is because of peer and societal pressure. What follows is a sweet, silly, and soul-searching quest by both father and daughter to discover themselves, find each other, and both accept who they are.
Films that feature lesbian coming out stories often layer them with anguish, rejection, and a heavy dose of existentialism that plagues that happy, celebratory feeling we really want to feel about reaching the end of that journey of sexual realization. Sam isn’t unhappy about how she is, in fact, she’s pretty pumped about Angelica, and about getting to know her better. Angelica is delightfully weird and magnetically magical. She dons a cape to prom, one that’s been carried over from one of her larping stints. She rocks glitter makeup and confident dance moves. and Sam is mesmerized. They chat a few times, doing the dance of light, verbal foreplay throughout the film.
Ultimately, when Sam goes to do the deed with Chad, she’s underwhelmed and doesn’t go through with it. When she reveals her lady-loving tendencies to her father and friends, they’re over the moon that she’s figured out what makes her happy. Sam’s bestie even goes as far as draping her with her own makeshift cape and joyfully sending her into Angelica’s arms. Sure, the candy-coated happy ending of Sam’s coming out almost seems like too much gooey goodness to be true, or does it?
The tidy reaction from her friends and family might seem almost campy, but it’s a testament to how this narrative would ideally play out. If you’re tired of being devastated by all of the angsty, depressing rejection-based storylines often featured in lesbian movies, this is a joyous pivot. The sugary sweet love story of Sam and Angelica in Blockers is just right, and it’s the one we need to watch on repeat.