This post contains light spoilers for “Fire Island”, a movie now on Hulu
When I first saw the preview for Fire Island earlier this month, I didn’t know what to think. The preview was such chaotic energy that I couldn’t tell if it was going to be incredible, or the stupidest thing I’d ever seen. I’m happy to say that it ended up being the former.
Fire Island did a fantastic job of highlighting friendships amidst the larger romantic comedy background. The movie’s central premise is that a group of friends goes to Fire Island for their annual gay retreat. Shortly upon arriving, they find out that the matriarch and token lesbian of the group, Erin (Margaret Cho) is losing her second home on the island, and therefore this trip to Fire Island will be their last. Noah (Joel Kim Booster), who is also the show’s narrator, is committed to making sure that his best friend, Howie (Bowen Yang), hooks up with someone on the trip.
While the show’s primary focus is ostensibly about both Noah and Howie’s relationships with two of the other men they find on the island (played by Conrad Ricamora and James Scully respectively), the focus is actually much more on the platonic relationship between Noah, Howie, and the rest of their friends. Noah and Howie have to navigate being Asian and relatively poor when gay culture doesn’t embrace either of those qualities.
As a long time fan of Pride and Prejudice, I appreciated the intentional copying of the plot that Jane Austen had laid out. The additional layers of race and class and not fitting in to the community that is supposed to accept you still made it interesting and a unique take on the story. The chosen family element of the story is something that’s so prominent in queer communities, and it was nice to see it play out on the screen.
Cho’s character, who was older than the rest of the cast, acted as a sort of pseudo-mom to a group of boys that didn’t have the parents or childhood that they’d wanted. It was all very moving and beautiful while still being a hilarious show. I appreciated watching a show about gay characters that felt real, rather than just a coming out story for straight audiences to enjoy.
This was not the world’s greatest movie, and I am not necessarily the target audience, but it was nice to see a movie where it wasn’t a straight white rich couple at the center, it was nice to see a romcom after the industry has been confined purely to high school Netflix films for so long, and it was nice to watch a film that wasn’t afraid to approach hard issues, especially since it managed to address them honestly while staying true to the generally comedic nature of the film.
I would recommend the movie as a lighthearted romp that might even spark something deeper.