The Ugly Truth About Why the Kids are All Right
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straight/extra or extra-marital sex scene, is also Cholodenko's way of saying F*ck You to Hollywood: you ain’t gettin’ any. Who winds up being hyper-spectacularized? Not the lesbians. Withholding visibility can be a powerful political act. Whether this is a satisfactory move is no doubt up for debate. But in any case, our point is simply that in the dialogue between Moms and Laser, Cholodenko makes it clear that she is acutely aware of the audience’s desire for representations of hot lesbian sex, as well as the history of lesbian sex in pornography, and the pitfalls of repeating that history in mainstream cinema.
2. Lesbians, like anyone, can look like shit when they’re depressed.
Of course it's always great to see Julianne Moore glammed up. But wouldn't that have seemed a bit weird given how utterly abject her character is? Ok she didn't have to be a washed up, granola-hippy love child. (But ouch. How many of us—especially those of you on the west coast—know at least one lesbian like her?) More importantly, Cholodenko's trenchant point about the fantasies of reproductive coupling—the difficulty of maintaining a relationship where both (where all) people are equally happy with their own lives, as well as equally happy with each other—can, but should not be lost. Are lesbians superheroes who are naturally better at coupling? Surely Nic and Jules were once a hot-to-trot lesbian success story, and we all love those.
But in the scene at the wine bar where Jules finally asserts to Nic that she relinquished her ambition for Nic's paternalistic security, we are offered a crushing sense of what has been eroded over years and years through the trials of domesticity, and in an effort to stabilize the couple form. It's not a zero-sum game exactly. It’s more like what is gained is divided by what is lost, and what is kept owes something to what is added, and so on. In other words: It's complicated, folks! And The Kids are All Right reminds us that the couple form, especially the reproductive couple form, is often not malleable enough to admit these other algebras of affect, attachment and even ambition.
3. Families suck. Even (especially) queer families suck, despite their best intentions.
“Families We Choose” can be the worst families of all, because