Most lesbian films follow a simple formula:
One straight girl + one mysterious queer woman + a shadowy male authority figure representing the patriarchy + cute scenes set to indie music = a top spot in Netflix’s LGBT movie section.
But some lesbian films are breaking the mold. They manage to still be cute enough to watch with your girlfriend on a date night, but unpredictable enough to keep you interested. Let’s look at the top 3.
Kiss Me (2011)
To be honest, this movie’s a little melodramatic, and it does stick to a tried-and-true format. A girl (Mia) is engaged to a man but falls in love with a carefree, dangerous woman (Frida). Antics ensue.
What makes it different: At the same party where Mia announces that she’s going to marry her boyfriend, her father announces that he’s getting married, too – to the woman who turns out to be Frida’s mother. Yes, the two women are about to become stepsisters. This movie is the definition of family drama.
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
Everyone knows that cheerleaders always date popular male jocks. That’s just what they’re supposed to do. But something is wrong with head cheerleader Megan: Everyone seems to know that she’s gay except her. Her parents send her to conversion camp where she ends up, predictably, falling in love with the “bad boy” lesbian.
What makes it different: This movie is delightfully cheesy. It’s satire. This hilarious film pokes fun at all of the lesbian stereotypes of the 90s, many of which hold true today. Plus, see Natasha Lyonne before she made her Orange is the New Black debut as Nicky Nichols.
Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
Heterosexual Jessica is tired of being heterosexual. She answers a newspaper ad for a bisexual woman looking for a girlfriend (Helen). The two women date, and Jessica spends months agonizing over whether she’s actually queer. The ending is happy. And then it’s not. No spoilers.
What makes it different: Bisexuality. It’s rarely addressed in lesbian films – both women are usually lesbians, even if one woman doesn’t know that at the start of the film. But Kissing Jessica Stein actually addresses the nuances of bisexuality.
If you’re not familiar with the nuances, here you go: