Bottoms’ Filmmakers On Punching Through Teen Comedy Tropes Involving Women: ‘We’re Just As Horny As Men’

Rachel Sennot and Ayo Edebiri in Bottoms
(Image credit: MGM )

Among this weekend’s latest big-screen releases is Bottoms, a raunchy LGBTQ+ comedy about two teen girls who start a fight club to win the affections of (and get some action with) the hot cheerleaders at their school. It’s the hilarious brainchild of Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott, the filmmakers behind one of 2021’s most underrated movies, Shiva Baby. And they found inspiration by pushing back against common teen movie tropes that they felt were clearly “written by a man.” The talented pair have a lot to say and want the public to know that women are "just as horny as men."

Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott wrote the script together while collaborating on  Shiva Baby, which was their feature-film debut. That production was a much more tense movie about a college student’s cringey Jewish funeral service experience. This latest film allowed them to do something a bit wilder and funnier. When speaking to IndieWire about how Bottoms came about, Seligman that their first frames of references were "just the shitty guy sex comedies." Sennott then expanded upon their disillusionment with the genre in some regards:

We were like, why do they get to be horny— And superhero movies, too. Like ‘Scott Pilgrim,’ because it’s about how he has superpowers and he’s literally like, ‘Merp.’ It’s like, he gets superpowers? OK, fucking let me punch someone. I love that movie, by the way! But do you know what I mean? It’s like, let us do that.

The writers looked back on favorites like Edgar Wright’s 2010 genre-bending comedy, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (which is returning as an anime) along with other sex comedies starring male characters. They both noticed how teen boy characters were given free reign to be “horny,” whereas female characters took a backseat. Emma Seligman, who also directed Bottoms, continue to discuss the standard characterizations they wanted to steer clear of: 

They never have a sexual thought in their body, that’s the thing. I feel like we’re barely getting to a realistic depiction and it having be normalized of how horny women are, how we’re just as horny as men. Or, queer women, in particular, who are teens, I feel like are especially [put] in this innocent little bubble where they’ve never had a sexual thought in their body. They just want to hold hands.

More on High School-Set Sex Comedies

Overall, both writers wanted to challenge the idea that teen girls aren’t as "horny" as their male counterparts in the raunchy (and bloody) comedy. The movie is led by Rachel Sennott, who also stole the show in last year’s A24 hilarious whodunnit Bodies Bodies Bodies and The Bear cast's standout, Ayo Edebiri, as PJ and Josie, respectively.

During the interview, Rachel Sennott added that queer characters in teen movies often come out and then go on to want to “do nothing about it” before going home and singing a song. The writer and actress shared that she wanted the queer-focused movie to find an inbetween where it wasn’t “so sad that it’s depressing” nor “cutesy.” She described her and Ayo Edebiri’s characters as not particularly “likeable” on purpose because they’re “just hormonal teenagers who hate themselves a little.” 

Bottoms has found overwhelming praise from critics since opening at the South by Southwest film festival back in March. In hindsight, one can probably say it was partially due to the freshness of the story. That can certainly be chalked up to the filmmakers' eagerness to explore the humor and humanity that comes with teenage girls' sexual desires. The movie is now playing in select theaters and will expand to more theaters next Friday, September 1. You can also stay up to date on other 2023 new movie releases as the fall film season rolls in.  

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.