Alex and Henry brought their enemies-to-fake-friends-to-lovers story to TV screens around the world via Amazon Prime on August 11, 2023. The film is based on the New York Times bestselling novel published in May of 2019 by Casey McQuiston.
In the telling of the romance between a bisexual First Son of the U.S. and a gay English prince, I was delighted to see sapphic representation. Here are five WLW moments I found in this boy-meets-boy tale.
In one touching scene where Alex and Henry are lounging in a hammock together, the two are reading. When they lower their books to gaze at each other, Alex is holding a copy of One Last Stop. This sci-fi slash rom-com, also by Casey McQuiston, is the author’s second novel and debut sapphic release. Perhaps we can anticipate another McQuiston film adaptation in the future?
Zahra, Deputy Chief of Staff to President Ellen Claremont, is objectively stunning. Her lines (“Touch me and die”) were some of the funniest in the film. If she looks familiar, she probably is. Zahra is portrayed by Sarah Shahi, the actress who played Carmen de la Pica Morales on The L Word. A main character in seasons 2 and 3, Carmen was an ex of Jenny’s and famously left by Shane at the altar.
In some of the intermittent news segments, mainly those that report on Ellen Claremont’s re-election campaign and Alex’s primary role in working to win Texas, another familiar face covers the stories. Rachel Maddow plays herself on behalf of MSNBC. The first openly lesbian news anchor to host her own prime-time show, it’s no wonder that the theater erupted in cheers of recognition the first time Maddow appeared on the screen.
One of McQuiston’s talents is seamlessly blending side characters into the fabric of the main storyline. This is no exception with Amy Gupta, Alex’s bodyguard and another source of incredible one-liners (“Threat neutralized”). At the end of the novel, Amy is seen cheering on Alex and Henry, wearing trans pride colors and accompanied by her wife. In the movie, we see her wedding ring. She is portrayed by Indian-American actress and transgender activist Aneesh Sheth. Also known for playing Gillian in season 3 of Jessica Jones, Sheth received the Human Rights Campaign Visibility award in recognition of her advocacy work.
Nora Holleran, canonically bisexual ex-turned-best-friend of Alex, is played by Rachel Hilson. Readers might remember Hilson from her role as Mia in Love, Victor. Princess Bea, Henry’s sister, has less of a prominent role in the film (the “Powder Princess” storyline is cut entirely), but this hasn’t stopped fans from eyeing a potential romance between the two women. In an early scene of the film, as Henry is making his introductory rounds at his brother’s wedding, Bea approaches Nora: “I have heard so much about you. You’re sticking with me tonight, c’mon.” The two head offscreen…