TV + Movies

Queer Media Wrap-Up 2023: From Girl/Boy Dinner To My Roman Empire To Trans Representation, Everyone Served C*nt

Within India, it seemed like a good year for some favorites to return and some newer shows to grow in prominence including some brand new queer icons like Ganji Chudail. Out of all the queer themed shows, Rainbow Ristha is the one that was loved unanimously by everyone.

The year 2023 had a lot to offer to create nuance and chaos in queer pop culture. At Gaysi, we are rounding up some of the best stuff and leaving out the worst (plagiarism scandal of queer video essayist James Somerton for instance). We are gonna look a little into the worldwide trends and then dive right into what the Indian media had to offer. This by no means is a definitive list, it’s more of an attempt to collate the best and worst queer culture offered us through the media in the year when we look back.

A lot has happened at the international stage right from Padam Padam by Kylie Minogue to Sufjan Stevens’ queer masterpiece Javelin, Janelle Monae’s The Age of Pleasure, twink anthem Rush by Troye Sivan, and more music by boygenius, Omar Apollo, and so much more (including the worst but irresistible song of the year Toxic Gossip Train) in the music scene. This was also the year of the barbenhiemer and then the chaotic influx of swifties led by the release of The Eras Tour Movie by Taylor Swift (who totally owned the year). Some of the queer movies and shows that we definitely suggest you watch (in no particular order) are at the end of this article.

In terms of memes and virality, this was truly the year of boy and girl dinner being served up, be it by the steamiest gay sex scenes in Fellow Travelers or the raunchiest female focussed buddy movie with Joyride whose absurdity was matched by the equally violent queer high school losers comedy Bottoms. And while we had Barbie, which was peak white feminism; A24’s Dicks The Musical was a worthy antidote. In terms of gayming, Baldur’s Gate 3 sex scenes did make a splash and there are so many more queer gaymes one can explore. And lastly there were a plethora of memes from Roman Empire to Paul Mescal’s infamous run of the latest. “Rizz” might have been the word of the year but everyone was basically serving cunt.

Ganji Chudail, Trans Representation and Queer Coded Blockbusters

Within India, it seemed like a good year for some favorites to return and some newer shows to grow in prominence including some brand new queer icons like Ganji Chudail. Out of all the queer themed shows, Rainbow Ristha is the one that was loved unanimously by everyone. It is also one of the rare attempts to delve into the intricacies of everydayness of queer people, or the marriage question at a time when the supreme court refused to grant the right to marry to same-sex couples. Featuring actor Trinetra’s first major role, the season 2 of the beloved show Made in Heaven returned as well; while it was a stellar second entry for Tara, the character of Karan felt unjustified with a character arc that didn’t make sense and took away the essence of Karan and Tara’s friendship. The show was also marred with controversies around credits (which turned rather ugly) and representation, portrayal of Muslims, and its episode featuring queer women as the lead.

What was a worthy attempt to portray the lives of queer people was Kaathal – The Core featuring Mammootty as a gay man in the lead. Although the idea of a superstar playing a gay character received more praise than the delicate story of the movie and what it entailed for Omana and Thankan’s character (both at the margins), the movie is a sincere attempt to portray the dual reality of queer lives. Erstwhile, Netflix’s The Archies made a half assed attempt to include a queer narrative, the network’s Class dives into soap opera narratives instead of navigating issues of privilege, gender and caste in a honest way, Kohrra received mixed reviews around its portrayal of queer characters, Katrina Kaif’s fight scene in Tiger 3 was received as queer-coded, and so was the tension between John Abhraham and King Khan in Pathaan. More on the OTT side, Sushmita Sen taking the mantle of trans rights activist Gauri Sawant in Taali received critical acclaim and reignited the conversation on representation.

Ektara Collective’s Ek Jagah Apni with trans women in the lead was another definite standout. The film shed light on the everyday joy and struggles of securing housing as queer-trans individuals. While there certainly are demerits and valid criticisms the film also makes a character out of Bhopal as a city which was warm to witness. And while Trinetra and Sushmita Sen made some progress on the front for trans representation (it’s a question if it’s better to give cis women a trans role rather than a cis man), Nawazuddin Siddiqui continued his streak of transphobic roles with Haddi.

Another highlight was when trans rights activist A. Revathi took the lead in Sujith Sundram’s play Biryani Durbar. Even though the year 2023 was a landmark year for trans representation on our television screens, it was this play with its exploration around politics of food and an honest look into trans lives that left an everlasting mark (the kind and creative folks behind the play even served biryani to everyone). That wasn’t the only play that made the waves in 2023; Jyotsna Siddharth’s Clay also became the only play with an intersectional caste and crew, and produced by a dalit queer woman. Trans rights activist Santa Khurai, who’s at the forefront of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement in Manipur also released her memoir The Yellow Sparrow this year.

And there’s much more in the art scene, from Navin’s comedy special The Good Child (btw, Navin is playing Queer-Rated Comedy with Aayushi Jagad and Madhavendra Singhin Juhu on 4th Jan so grab your tickets here!) to art exhibitions to drag balls to countless queer events that you should attend (whose updates you can get on Gaysi Family’s social media)! Other movies that came out include the odia drama T (based on the life of India’s first trans taxi driver Meghna Sahoo), Unwoman, Deepa Mehta’s I am Sirat, Thank you for Coming, Hunt (Telugu remake of 2013’s Mumbai Police), and the short No Stranger At All. 

Lastly, some queer af movies and shows to check out from the past year include: All of Us Strangers, Aristotle and Dante discovers the secrets of the Universe, Fionna and Jake Season 1, Saltburn, Strange Way of Life, Down Low, The Last of Us Season 1, M3GAN, Joyland, The Ultimatum: Queer Love, Sex Education Season 5, Poker Face Season 1, Gen V Season 1, Abbott Elementary Season 1 & 2, What We Do in The Shadows Season 5, Heartstopper Season 2, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 5, The Fall of the House of Usher, Yellow Jackets Season 2, Our Flag Means Death Season 2, Red White and Royal Blue, Theatre Camp, Ted Lasso Season 3, Mutt, Kokomo City, Passages, Interview with a Vampire Season 1, The Prince (a play by trans actor and writer Abigail Thorn) Wonka, The Color Purple, and Nimona among others.

Are there any movies, shows and music recommendations that we missed? Do share with us in the comment section 🙂

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Rajeev completed their under graduation in Political Science Hons. from Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi in 2020. They graduated with Masters in Women’s Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in 2022 and were a participant at the International Writing Program’s Summer Institute, University of Iowa for the 2021-22 session. They have been the recipient of Mavelinadu Collective’s grant for non-fiction for the first issue of Debrahminising Gender. Their work can be found in EPW, Women’s Link Journal, Shuddhashar, Gaysi Family, Feminism in India and Hindu College Gazette among others. Their research interests include queer experiences, feminist ethics of care, and masculinities.

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