Lisa Cholodenko on “The Kids Are All Right,” “High Art” and working on “The L Word”


You likely have your own views on The Kids Are All Right, whether you’ve seen it or not. We’ve had several viewpoints shared by contributors of different opinions, but people in some parts of the country still haven’t been able to see the film. Today, The Kids Are All Right is released on DVD, which means anyone with access to the internet can purchase a copy and watch it for themselves.

Out writer/director Lisa Cholodenko is behind the film that got people talking about lesbian partnerships, gay parenthood and sexual fluidity. The release of The Kids Are All Right also coincided with a new study about children of gay parents being well-adjusted, prompting many reports on the film to signal it as proof that there’s a new “normal” when it comes to the nuclear family, and it’s not always about having one mom and one dad.

But with power comes great responsibility. Cholodenko wasn’t asking to be an authority on lesbians and lesbian parenting — she was working with her own experiences as a lesbian, a mom and as someone who works to create entertaining scenarios for mainstream audiences — but she was inevitably thrust into the position. As few other women might be able to attest (Ilene Chaiken or Shonda Rhimes, for example), when you’re creating a lesbian-based experience for the world at large, there are a lot of expectations, the largest being authentic representation of lesbian characters.

I’m not aiming to rehash the argument about whether Lisa Cholodenko was right or wrong to create a storyline in which Jules, a woman in a lesbian relationship, cheats on her partner by sleeping with a man. (I think it’s fair to say that cheating is wrong, in general. We can probably all agree on that.) When given a chance to speak with Cholodenko a week before the DVD release, I wanted to know what she thinks about the strong reactions to her film, and if they will keep her from attempting to tell more stories about queer women in the future, though it is something she has already done for more than a decade.

“I feel like most people really got it and appreciated the way, that if they saw any political point to it, they appreciated that it was subverted and done the way it was done,” Cholodenko said. “[They thought] it was a relief to see a film like that, and not have the politics on its sleeve.”

Then she acknowledged the backlash she received from some lesbians who were unhappy with the aforementioned storyline. “I think the only static that I’ve gotten in the outer world has been from that right wing of the old lesbian contingent that got pissed at me for having Jules sleep with Paul,” she said. “That’s OK — there’s room for everyone.”

Although Cholodenko is developing some new projects, she said “nothing is in stone” so she didn’t want to speak about them quite yet. But, nonetheless, she doesn’t see negativity from parts of the gay community as a caution sign.

“It doesn’t really affect what I want to do. I never really saw this as a lesbian film. I understand why people have their point of view and things bother people when it comes to representation and blah blah blah,” Cholodenko said. “I don’t think it’s going to get in my way of ideas when it comes to what’s next.”

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