Review: Different For Girls - The Whole Story
Carrie Lyell on the award-winning sapphic series written by Jacquie Lawrence
Caroline Whitney Smith, Rachel Shelley and Victoria Broom in Different For Girls
I’m at the Curzon Mayfair, watching the credits roll on Different For Girls - The Whole Story, and my mouth is agape. Not because of that steamy three-way shower scene, or the twists and turns of a thoroughly enjoyable plot, but because I’m wondering what my younger self would have made of a show by and for lesbians, bi and queer women.
There’s been a move in the last five or 10 years to the incidental gay or bi character on TV – think Sonia in EastEnders who has no queer friends, rarely acknowledges her sexuality, and fleeting relationship with Tina aside is doomed to be single forever. The Sonias of the TV world are important, don’t get me wrong. But there’s something deeply life-affirming about a show that speaks directly to us. Seeing yourself up on a big screen? Hearing in jokes about your community? A show that acknowledges that just because we like women, we’re not all the same? Wow. Yes, we’ve had The L Word and Lip Service but since then? Nothing. So DFG, I think, is revolutionary in terms of representation.
The fact that it is relatable is a huge selling point, yes. And there’s a serious message in Different For Girls - and director Campbell X doesn’t just flip the male gaze on its head, but turns it back to front and throws in the bin.
But, importantly, it’s not doom and gloom. Different For Girls is funny. Laugh out loud funny. And new cast additions in this instalment, including TV royalty Denise Welch, bring even more laughs this time around. Welch’s performance as a later life lesbian who has the hots for Theresa May had the audience at the Curzon screening in stitches.
Visually, DFG is slick and sexy, thanks to cinematographer Oona Menges, and producer Fizz Milton who has made it look a million dollars, despite a rather modest budget. There’s a great script too (based on the book of the same name by Jacquie Lawrence) which expertly demonstrates the diversity within our community. But it’s the performances that really make DFG shine. Caroline Whitney Smith (Her Story, Animal Kingdom) particularly impressed me this time around, making me feel all the feelings. Her character, Nicola, could easily be played as a one dimensional baddie, but she brings nuance which makes it hard to hate her, and ultimately, makes her character believable.
Other stand out performances, for me, came from Victoria Broom (Marcella), Guinevere Turner (Go Fish, The Watermelon Woman, The L Word) as DIVA editor Jude, and Rachel Shelley as downtrodden wife and mother, Brooke. But DFG really is an ensemble and everyone brings their best in this, the Whole Story.
My 14-year-old self is in awe of every single one of you. Thank you.
***** - FIVE STARS
Different For Girls – The Whole Story is available now at lesbianboxoffice.com.
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