What’s queer about “I Love Dick”

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Amazon’s new pilot I Love Dick was adapted from a 1997 Chris Krauss novel by lesbian playwright Sarah Gubbins and directed and produced by queer Transparent creator Jill Soloway. Starring the always enjoyable Kathryn Hahnthe half-hour dramedy follows a couple (Kathryn as Chris and Griffin Dunne as her husband Sylvere) who go to Marfa, Texas for Sylvere’s fellowship under a well-regarded writer named Dick (Kevin Bacon).

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Dick stirs something for Chris, who is clearly uninspired in her marriage, and she begins to find herself again through Dick’s pointed remarks about her want to be a filmmaker (she is one) and if women can make good films at all (he thinks they can’t, or at least, asserts as much). What would make most women punch him in the face apparently turns Chris on, and she begins to write him secret love letters about obsession and needing. To Chris, Dick is the unspoken truth she’s suddenly craving to hear.

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Living next door to Chris and Sylvere is Devon, played by out actress Roberta Colindrez who is known for her roles as Tako on Girls and Joan in Fun Home on Broadway. Devon is the “handy dandy Mandy” (aka the groundskeeper) for the Institute Dick heads up. She meets when she is trying to smoke pot outside, but the wind thwarts her attempts at lighting the bowl. Devon invites Chris into her Airstream trailer, and they engage in a conversation about Devon’s “deep roots” in Marfa (her family has lived there since the early 1900s) and Devon lends Chris some cowboy boots she insists she’ll need for the rattle snakes.

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Later, Devon is visited by friends Suki (Phoebe Robinson) and Geoff (Adhir Kalyan) where she proclaims she is writing a play about a married couple from New York City, mostly focused on the wife who “hates herself, and her husband kind of hates her, too. And the play is about them figuring that out.” Clearly, Chris isn’t the only one who is finding new creative influence.

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In Deadline’s initial announcement regarding Roberta’s casting, they mention that Devon “is instantly drawn to Chris, but she’s waiting for the couple to come to some sort of agreement before she makes her move.” Should Amazon pick up I Love Dick to series, there could be some more queering of the story, especially with Sarah Gubbins and Jill Soloway at the helm, but the larger story is about Chris’s self-exploration as an artist and a woman. The novel itself is based on the real-life story of author Chris Krauss, a thinly veiled fictitious memoir of sorts praised for its feminism and sexual freedom when it first came out 20 years ago, but even more so now in its rediscovery. 

Devon’s swagger as an androgynous Texan cowboy is definitely a different kind of character than we’re usually able to see on television, so for that alone, you should give I Love Dick a try. In my dream world, this show might be called I Love Devon, but that’s an entirely different story.

The I Love Dick pilot is available now on Amazon.

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