Alison Bechdel has spoken: Leave ‘Fire Island’ alone

Three men sing in a formation.
Matt Rogers, left, Bowen Yang and Tomás Matos in the film “Fire Island.”
(Jeong Park / Searchlight Pictures)

The stars of “Fire Island” appear to be taking pride in the “F-” that the new film scored on the Bechdel test.

And they now have the approval of Alison Bechdel herself.

The Hulu rom-com, which co-stars Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang and Conrad Ricamora, among others, has been at the center of a heated online debate this week over its female representation — specifically its lack thereof.

Writer and editor Hanna Rosin, who’s in charge of podcasts at New York magazine, criticized the film Monday on Twitter, calling it out for what she considered an “F- on the Bechdel test.” That’s the criteria used to measure representation of women in fictional works.


To pass the test, which was popularized by cartoonist Bechdel in a late-1980s comic strip, a work must feature at least two women, the women must talk to each other and their conversation has to be about something other than a man.

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Rosin, noticed that none of that happened in “Fire Island,” a loose LGBTQ adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” that spotlights Asian American characters, and called it out. Then, Rosin backpedaled a day later after a backlash ensued and Bechdel got in the last word.

“Do we just ignore the drab lesbian stereotypes bc cute gay Asian boys? Is this revenge for all those years of the gay boy best friend?” Rosin wrote in her original tweet, which she later deleted.

After the tweet went viral, “Fire Island” star and writer Booster, who has been on and off a Twitter hiatus during the film’s rollout, tweeted Monday that he “picked a hilarious day to log back on.”

Veteran comedian Margaret Cho, who also stars in the movie, turned Rosin’s characterization of her role into a meme and poem: “I didn’t realize I was drab. I don’t identify as drab. Bitch I’m fab!,” she tweeted.

And Yang, the “Saturday Night Live” star, ran with the low grade on Instagram.


“F- on the bechdel test,” he declared Tuesday, sharing a sunny snap with former porn actor Robin Byrd, who made a memorable cameo in the film.

Their fans applauded the quips in the comments and replies sections of their posts, and the pith didn’t stop there. Yang also posted a tweet on Instagram Stories from “Fun Home” writer Bechdel endorsing the film.

Stars in the film "Fire Island."
Margaret Cho, left, Tomás Matos, Bowen Yang, Joel Kim Booster and Matt Rogers star in “Fire Island.”
(Jeong Park)

“Okay, I just added a corollary: Two men talking to each other about the female protagonist of an Alice Munro story in a screenplay structured on a Jane Austen novel = pass. #FireIsland #BechdelTest,” Bechdel tweeted Tuesday, referring to a key moment between love interests played by Booster and Ricamora.

“Welp,” Yang wrote.

And the corollary was briefly added to the Bechdel test’s Wikipedia entry, a move highlighted in another Instagram Story by fellow “Fire Island” actor Matt Rogers.

“The way this has all been worth it,” Rogers wrote, sharing a screenshot before the Wiki addition was deleted.


Meanwhile, Rosin, who’s also the author of the book “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women,” was quickly condemned for dismissing the fact that the film centers gay and queer Asian American men in a way that few if any projects have done before.

In a Tuesday Twitter thread, Rosin said she deleted the original tweet that critics “rightly pointed out was offensive.”

Hulu released a trailer for the rom-com ‘Fire Island,’ a queer adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ starring Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang and Margaret Cho.

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“I’ve read your responses and I hear you. My tweet was careless and thoughtless. Truly. The movie was telling a story about queer AAPI men, whose experiences don’t show up enough in movies or anywhere else,” she wrote. “What I had to say was beside the point, not to mention a buzzkill on a fun summer movie. It’s a cliche but the fact that I didn’t see it coming means I have a lot to learn.

“The last thing I want to do is pit members of my community against each other. I sincerely apologize to those who were hurt by my words,” Rosin added.


Separately, Booster has said that he’s “completely and utterly overwhelmed by the response” to “Fire Island.”

“Thank you, truly all of you,” he tweeted Tuesday. “I am going to log off again soon because I’d like to enjoy this moment in my life in the healthiest way possible, but seriously thank you. Don’t know what else to say.”