What is it about lesbian period pieces that Hollywood loves so much? Is it the corsets, the forbidden yearning, the inevitable unhappy endings? Whatever it is, SNL’s latest skit ‘Lesbian Period Drama’ perfectly encapsulates the stereotypes of the subgenre. Starring Kate McKinnon, Carey Mulligan, and Heidi Gardener, the 3-minute clip accurately parodies the likes of Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Ammonite, in a manner that’s bound to make you burst out laughing.
The sketch aired as a part of Saturday Night Live’s latest episode which was hosted by Carey Mulligan, who stars in the piece as one of “two straight actresses who dare not to wear makeup”.
At the beginning of the teaser, Mulligan is brought to a doctor by her husband with his reason being that “She’s a bummer”. It is here where she is introduced to Heidi Gardener’s character, her “female companion” for prescribed grey-aired “long rocky walks”.
‘Lesbian Period Drama’ continues with the narrator describing it as, “another film that isn’t afraid to ask: will these lesbians be lesbians together?”, boasting “twelve lines of dialogue” within its “two and a half-hour run time”.
The piece also features “Academy award-winning glance choreography” and “Best supporting actress nominee: The Wind” – two tropes that viewers are all too familiar with. But this teaser would not be complete without the appearance of the “stone-cold ex” played by Kate McKinnon, a real-life lesbian. Who would have thought it possible?
Decorated with sad flirting, finger grazing, and portrait drawing, perhaps the most accurate feature of all is the “sex scene so graphic you’ll think, ‘Oh right, a man directed this’.” Despite having seen different versions of the same film many times before, there is no doubt that queer women worldwide would still be queueing up to view and support this spectacle.
While ‘Lesbian Period Drama’ should be enjoyed as a comedy sketch, it also highlights the need for a more diverse range of plots, stories, and cast members within LGBTQ+ cinema. This subgenre is often dominated by white straight actresses, and can still be influenced by the male gaze. Although many of the examples that we have today are loved and appreciated within the community, there is still room for improvements, and the SNL skit highlights that in an engaging and hilarious way.
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