One of very few produced by a major studio…
With popular romantic comedies like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Crazy Rich Asians, some say we’re in the middle of a rom-com renaissance. The new generation of romantic comedies definitely isn’t disappointing when it comes to diversity, and now we’re getting a mainstream gay rom-com starring Billy Eichner.
The yet untitled project will be produced Judd Apatow and directed by Nick Stoller who is known for comedies like Neighbours and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Stoller met Eichner while working on his Netflix show Friends from College, where Eichner’s character is arguably the highlight.
Eichner tweeted the rom-com news earlier this week:
According to Deadline, the “comedy will center around two men who have commitment problems and are attempting a relationship.” The vast majority of romantic comedies feature heterosexual couples, although the gay best friend trope is a—majorly overused—common theme. IndieWire noted that the last rom-com with a gay lead by a major studio was Love, Simon in 2018 and before that it was In & Out in 1997.
Even more exciting is the fact that one of the gay leads will be played by a gay actor. Last year, them. delved into the “gay-for-pay” trend of straight actors landing LGBT roles and winning huge awards for them. Recent examples include Call Me By Your Name and Moonlight, both with prominent LGBT roles played by straight actors.
Going back a little further, there are a number of straight actors who won Academy Awards for playing gay characters. Philip Seymour Hoffman won for playing Truman Capote in Capote, Sean Penn won for playing Harvey Milk in Milk and Tom Hanks won for playing a gay man dying of AIDS in Philadelphia. The list of straight actors playing gay characters goes on and on whether it’s an Oscar-worthy role or not.
Clearly, Hollywood hasn’t historically been great at diversity. them. noted that “Movements like #OscarsSoWhite, and continued pushback against cisgender actors playing trans roles, have been increasingly covered in media the past few years. Yet the Gay for Pay Problem has not had the same attention, at least in the recent past, as other ways that Hollywood is willing to tell stories from marginalized groups without hiring marginalized people.”
That’s why, while Eichner’s upcoming rom-com might not be considered Oscar-bait, it will be notable for its perspective: a gay romance written and performed by a person who has personally experienced a gay romance. After all, just like women and people of colour need the opportunity to tell their own stories, so do people who identify as anywhere on the sexuality and gender spectrums. Diverse and authentic writers and performers will only help make the stories more compelling in the end—which means we all win.