*This Post Contains Spoilers*
Jamie Babbit’s first feature length film, But I’m A Cheerleader’s comical antics leaves the audience reeling with laughter. Laughter towards obnoxious gender expectation and obscene yet fairly accurate sexual repression.
We follow Megan (Natasha Lyonne, who you probably know from playing mischievous yet good-at-heart lesbian, Nicky in Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black) as she is forced into a conversion centre, True Directions, by her friends and family. There is a comical tone throughout the narrative; scenes capturing young gay men dressed in tight blue denim shorts whilst attempting to chop wood while the girls, clad in pink, learn the trades of a suburban domestic goddess. The film plays on stereotypical gender tropes to the point of laughter – so it is clear that it is ridiculous to expect people (whether gay or straight) to adhere to these rigid societal rules.
What Babbit makes clear through her comical approach to the narrative is what is not funny. Scenes between Megan and Graham do not draw our laughter. Instead we was perched on the end of our seats waiting for the long anticipated romance to come to its head. As they kiss (outside of the ironically named club, The Cocksucker) they are not subjected to typical gender expectations embossed in pink and blasted with harsh lighting, there is no light-hearted music to intervene. Here are just two normal girls, out in the normal world, falling in love.
The most promising part of this film is its end. Although Mary is trying to present her “happy heterosexuals” to their parents who have paid a great deal of money to get their kids “fixed”, clearly there is no real happiness here. Graham, looking completely uncomfortable in a tight pink dress and long gloves, appears as though she is walking towards her end. The end of her true self. Luckily enough for us, Megan comes back, cheerleading pom poms in hand, to win back a Graham that is afraid of her parents anti-gay ideology. The final shot is of a now very happy Graham as she tumbles into the back of Dolph’s truck with Megan, finally able to be with who she wants to be with. Both of the girls (and their new gay friends; Dolph and Clayton) end this film embracing who they truly are.