Among the new releases hitting streaming and VOD platforms this weekend, one in particular caught our eye: Fire Island, the modern gay Pride and Prejudice adaptation directed by Andrew Ahn and written by and starring Joel Kim Booster. The movie is now available to stream on Hulu, and many of us at Polygon will be watching it this weekend.
If, like us, you are excited about this movie, or you have watched it and are in the mood for more LGBTQ comedies and romantic comedies: good news! We’ve compiled the following list just for you.
Here are 10 hilarious and heartfelt LGBTQ comedies and romantic comedies that you can watch right now at home on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and others. Be sure to share any favorites in the comments!
“Um, I’m looking for the grown-up underwear of a woman in charge of her sexuality and not afraid of change?”
Desiree Akhavan’s (The Miseducation of Cameron Post) feature film debut tells a story that is close to home — it follows Shirin (played by Akhavan), who (like the writer-director-star) is a bisexual New York City native born to Iranian immigrants. After a bad break up, Shirin’s life is thrown into disarray, forcing her into some uncomfortable conversations she had been avoiding — both with her family and with herself. This offbeat comedy is always surprising and never loses its sense of humor or its heart. Just watch the hilarious underwear-shopping scene; it’ll give you an idea of how much this movie is for you. —Pete Volk
Appropriate Behavior is available to stream on The Criterion Channel, or for free with ads on The Roku Channel, Vudu, Tubi, Pluto TV, Plex, and FreeVee.
It’s hard to even imagine Nathan Lane as unconfident about anything in his life, especially when it comes to his melodramatic, hilarious portrayal of drag queen Starina (and her alter-ego, the not-so-mild-mannered Albert) in The Birdcage — but Lane was still in the closet at the time. It’s all the more impressive that the central joke of the 1996 movie is that Albert can’t manage to pass as straight, not even for the benefit of his son’s fiancée’s extremely conservative family. The Birdcage shows all the ways that gender is a performance through its rapid-fire wit and absurd situations, shying away from the preachiness you might expect of a comedy about conservatives forced to face their fears of all things queer. The best part of The Birdcage isn’t the drag performances, although those remain a delight — instead it’s the movie’s portrayal of the middle-aged mundanities of two gay dads existing in the ’90s. They’re normal, and at the time, that felt radical. —Maddy Myers
The Birdcage is available to stream on HBO Max.
But I’m A Cheerleader
It’s hard to imagine conversion therapy as the centerpiece for a comedy, yet somehow that’s the premise of But I’m A Cheerleader. A young Natasha Lyonne stars as a preppy blonde who has no idea why she wants to hurl every time her boyfriend goes in for a kiss, and Clea DuVall plays one of queer cinema’s most iconic lesbian love interests. Their meet-cute happens at the conversion camp where they’ve both been sent by their families; it’s a setting that stays lighthearted in part due to the garish pink-and-blue set design and the over-the-top gender role training that the queer kids get forced through. The terrifying reality of their predicament simmers under the surface, allowing the comedy to bite back all the harder — and allowing the romantic climax to taste even sweeter. —MM
But I’m A Cheerleader is available to stream on Peacock, for free with a library card on Kanopy or Hoopla, or for free with ads on The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, and Plex.
The Hulu-produced comedy set in South Dakota stars two teenage girls, one of whom is a known nerd who never steps out of line — except for one underwhelming hookup at a party, after which she can’t manage to track down a morning-after pill due to conservative laws in the area. So, said nerd and her lifelong best friend embark on a road trip to track down the pill. The queer romance comes out of left field in this movie so I won’t spoil the circumstances, except to say that my girlfriend and I had good enough gaydar to predict exactly what was going on before it played out. There’s also a lot of gross-out humor in this movie (there’s an on-screen penis piercing, for example), but given that the premise is about human bodies and all of their unexpected and inconvenient capabilities, it works. —MM
Plan B is available to stream on Hulu.
A love triangle involving two siblings and one hapless protagonist? Classic setup for a romantic comedy. Everybody knows if you date somebody, you’ve locked yourself out of dating their sibling, because that’s totally disrespectful. But what if you’re also a queer teen girl, and you don’t even know that many other queer teen girls? That’s the premise of Crush, a lighthearted romp through a well-worn premise that feels way fresher due to being 100% sapphic. —MM
Crush is available to stream on Hulu.
Alice Wu’s early-2000s romantic comedy has become a classic in the queer and Chinese American film canon. In the film, mother Hwei-Lan and daughter Wil learn to live together under unique circumstances. Hwei-Lan is kicked out of her parents’ house after becoming pregnant out of wedlock and moves into Wil’s home — Wil is lesbian, but closeted to her mother. Saving Face follows each of their romantic pursuits, but the trick the film is that its arc is actually between mother and daughter. Their relationship becomes the nexus of the story — they learn to support each other despite intergenerational and cultural differences, as each of them fights for acceptance from their elders and learns to put faith in their own desires. I am grateful to Wu for resisting studio attempts at whitewashing, and for fighting for the movie to have a happy ending. Saving Face has become a comfort watch to me, and a reminder that love is possible across diasporas, even if it isn’t easy. —Nicole Clark
Saving Face is available to stream on Prime Video, Hulu, and the Criterion Channel, or for free with ads on Tubi and Crackle.
My Beautiful Laundrette
Stephen Frears’ (High Fidelity) 1985 dramedy is often cited as one of the best British movies of the 20th century, and it earned an Academy Award nomination for screenwriter Hanif Kureishi. It was also a breakout role for one of its young stars, Daniel Day-Lewis. Day-Lewis stars opposite Gordon Warnecke, who plays Omar, a young man taking care of his father who gets the opportunity to manage a laundromat that is in poor shape. When he and some friends are attacked by a group of skinheads, Omar is surprised to see their leader is a childhood friend/old romantic flame, Johnny (Day-Lewis).
What happens next is a transgressive, endearing, and lively story of love, culture clashes, and the struggles of Thatcher-era England. —PV
My Beautiful Laundrette is available to watch for free with a library card on Kanopy, or to rent or purchase on digital platforms.
The Half of It
The Half of It is another excellent film from Alice Wu, this time a coming-of-age story made for Netflix. It explores familiar themes like belonging and miscommunication, contrasting queer Chinese American identity against the very white backdrop of a small town, Squahamish.
In this Cyrano de Bergerac retelling, Ellie forms a close friendship with a sweet himbo jock, Paul, agreeing to help him text his crush Aster. But Ellie, too, has feelings for Aster, and keeping up the charade becomes increasingly difficult. But the mistaken identity rom-com also has a very sweet heart. Ellie and Paul’s friendship blossoms over the course of the movie. He has his beliefs challenged and comes out better for it. And Ellie learns that she has friends she can rely on, and a parent who really cares about her, despite his stoic exterior. —NC
The Half of It is available to stream on Netflix.
Fried Green Tomatoes
The first time I watched Fried Green Tomatoes was as a teenager, with my parents. They were familiar with the movie and by the end I thought to myself, Oh, so this is gay, right? My parents, meanwhile, were like, These two women are such good friends :). I ended up Googling the plot summary and found out that the book it’s based on is actually very, very gay. I was right!
Even with all the overt romantic implications removed, Fried Green Tomatoes is a tender love story between two women in the Deep South. Idgie and Ruthie’s relationship is recounted in present-day by another woman (implied in the film to be Idgie, but a totally separate character in the novel), and their story inspires Kathy Bates’ character to regain control of her life. Even just through subtext, Idgie and Ruthie’s devotion to one another is apparent. Heck, they live together, open a cafe together, raise a child together, and fend off Ruthie’s abusive ex together — pretty damn romantic if you ask me. It’s about marginalized people coming together and forming a community and that’s just pretty cool, I think. Also, the food-fight scene is basically supposed to be a sex scene and it’s one of the best “not sex, but totally sex” scenes out there IMO. —Petrana Radulovic
Fried Green Tomatoes is available for rental or purchase on digital VOD platforms.
Booksmart isn’t an LGBTQ rom-com, but it is a comedy with a lesbian character as one of the two protagonists. Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), two overachieving high schoolers, realized that they’ve missed out on some quintessential high school experiences, so the night before graduation they try to hit up a party — and end up traversing across town, searching for the right address. It’s a raunchy teen comedy about partying before graduating, but this time with two gals, and Amy happens to be a hopeless lesbian with a huge crush on a hot girl that she struggles to make conversation with. Not to spoil too much, but the resulting romantic scene is both very electric and incredibly awkward in the amplified way that high school experiences often end up being. —PR
Booksmart is available to stream on Hulu.