Well hey there, Unicorns old and new. Feel free to take a seat wherever you like. Ooh, sorry about the mess. Just feel free to plop that onto the coffee table; it’s some paperwork I need to get to. Oh, or you can sit on the floor. Very “Norwegian Wood,” I can dig it.
With the bevy of quality programming available these days on streaming services, one can be overwhelmed with choices. At the same time, there are still shows that last past the water-cooler period in the mind and stick with you for whatever reason. One of those for me is Dollface, a Hulu comedy that delighted me so much I am always mentally writing spec scripts for it. I don’t know how many screenwriters y’all know, but that’s a sign of a deep and abiding love for a series.
So when I got word that Season 2 had dropped AND that there was a bi storyline, I was beyond happy to call dibs on it for this little column.
Before I get going, I should go over a few of the normal disclaimers. First and foremost, this review will contain SPOILERS for the first and second seasons. Also as far as content warnings go, this series is pretty light on that but if you have concerns, you can check this site here. Finally, if this is your first time around these parts, you may want to find out what our metric is all about here.
Get-it-got-it-good. Let’s hop to it!
Dollface centers on the character of twentysomething Jules (Kat Dennings), a young woman who recently got dumped by her long-term boyfriend and realizes she has lost connections with her friends from college. Armed with her insecurities and plenty of flights of fancy about her problems, she works to reconnect with her girlfriends and rebuild their once-strong friendships.
What I Liked:
Oh, there’s SO much I love about this show. I’ve had multiple friends like Jules over the years who have disappeared into relationships so I’ve been in the shoes of Madison (Brenda Song) and Stella (Shay Mitchell) many times over (except my shoes aren’t nearly as stylish). The unshakable centering of the focus on female friendships in the show is both refreshing and relatable — and not just because the show is based in the city where I live. I’m also a total sucker for stories that use departures into imagination to both show how a character is processing a dilemma as well as comedy relief (lookin’ at you, Ally McBeal.)
But maybe my favorite new thing about this show is how it handled giving Stella a bi storyline in its second season. Stella, a hotshot finance girl, decides on a whim to ditch her career and instead rebrand a dive called Frank Ginatra’s into The Gi Spot, a women-focused bar — and gets involved with the owner, Viv (Lilly Singh) even quicker.
What I loved about this relationship is that Stella steps into her queerness with little fanfare from either herself or her friends — there’s no big coming-out queer-as-conflict storyline. It’s normal and accepted and we move on to the actual dynamic Stella has with Liv. It’s also fantastic (and still fantastically rare) to have two queer women of color have a healthy relationship on screen — especially when both characters are played by queer women of color! Though Mitchell has built her young career on playing LGBTI members, she herself notes how refreshing it is to play such a fluid character with such ease in the show.
It’s also deeply refreshing to know from the creators that Stella was conceived as a queer character from jump — it’s just that now that we’ve gotten past the main obstacle of reforging the bonds of Jules’ friendships, there’s room to breathe and explore with these other main characters.
Not only that, but when Stella reveals she’s dating a woman to her squad, Izzy (Esther Povitsky) gets in a line that she’s turned on by this development while she’s also dating Liam (Jayson Blair), so it’s a quick and easy read of Izzy also being bi and being played by a bi woman. And it’s not with her sexuality being the butt of the joke!
Also, I have to really appreciate that the writers did a believable emotional through-line with where Stella and Liv’s relationship ended at the season, too — not only did it build well on what we already knew about Stella (having a lonely childhood with her mom’s revolving door of boyfriends), but this is also something a lot of people come across as they date going into their thirties — dating people with children, and their attitudes towards that. And while I’m glad Stella came around and was ready to commit, Liv’s choice to end things and why (I won’t spoil everything) were legit as well.
Like I said: SO much to love here!
What I Didn't Like:
Gettin’ real sick of even the most modern and hip shows being allergic to using the term “bi” for bi characters that they create. Does the whole writing room break into hives if they get an episode at the table read, hot off the presses, and the word “bi” appears in the script? Just say it! Write it, say it, live it. It’s valid! Your viewers will feel so seen! Maybe it’ll even bring in new viewers because the bi community is hungry for good representation!
So annoying. Dollface gets so much right but it’s like 2% away from getting an A+ because of such an easy fix here.
I adore the hell out of this show. I relate so hard to so many of the characters my head hurts sometimes. And Stella’s bi storyline is near-perfection. They did such a great job at normalizing and exploring queer storylines on the small screen. Just, here’s hoping that for the third season, someone somewhere in this fearsome foursome someone uses the term “bi.”
I’ll even take it from the hilarious (but very creepy) Cat Lady.