‘Bros’ fuses romance, comedy to offer needed LGBT+ representation

Sam Froum, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

On Sept. 30, Bros made history for being the first studio-released romantic comedy starring two gay men. It is a major milestone for LGBTQ+ representation in the media and was received very positively by critics, scoring an 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. 

The film stars Billy Eichner as Bobby, a podcast host/board member of the first LGBTQ+ museum, who relishes in his single life and isn’t one for long-term relationships. This all changes when he meets Aaron, played by Luke McFarland, an equally non-committed, but less outspoken lawyer who hates his job. Bobby and Aaron start dating and eventually realize that their relationship is deeper than any they’ve had before. 

I went into this movie with very high hopes. With Billy Eichner, Bowen Yang and Jim Rash, I couldn’t have asked for a funnier cast. The film’s producer, Judd Apatow, is behind some of the greatest comedies of the last 20 years with Superbad, The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Big Sick, Bridesmaids, and so many more. Director Nick Stoller also has an impressive comedic resume, having directed both Neighbors movies and Forgetting Sarah Marshall

But even with all this comedic firepower behind it, Bros seemed to miss the mark from a comedy standpoint. 

I laughed during certain parts of the movie, like at scenes where Bobby texts someone on Grindr, but the laughs were not as frequent as I thought they would be. I expected to see the same Billy Eichner from his iconic show, Billy on the Street, where he runs around New York City while yelling hysterically at startled pedestrians. But in Bros, Eichner’s usual screaming and fits of hysteria are few and far between. While he does provide most of the humor with his frequent pop culture references and snappy remarks, it doesn’t capture the same chaotic whirlwind of energy that he displays in Billy on the Street. In Bros, Eichner displays a more emotional side that his audience hasn’t seen before. It’s a phenomenal dramatic performance, but not one that I was expecting to see in a comedy. Side characters like Henry (Guy Branum), Robert (Jim Rash), and Lawrence Grape (Bowen Yang) also provide comic relief, but they only appear for a short amount of time throughout the movie.

In any comedy, the story is an important detail, even as important as the comedy itself. The main story in Bros feels familiar, but with a few new twists on the familiar romantic comedy plot.They meet, they date, they fall in love, they fight, they break up, then they get back together and live happily ever after. However, this time a few new layers are added to the story. In addition to the movie starring two men, it also shows how phones play a role in modern relationships, and the nervousness and stress they can cause. It’s an interesting addition that makes the plot feel more modern and a little bit less formulaic.The side plot involves Bobby working on the board of the first LGBTQ museum and preparing for the museum’s opening. It doesn’t add much emotional weight to the movie but it flows well with the main story and provides lighthearted comedic relief whenever it comes up. 

Despite not always delivering the laughs, Bros is full of emotion. Top-notch performances from Eichner and McFarlane make their characters feel complex and dimensional. Their characters’ relationship feels different than any relationship seen in previous romantic comedies. Not just because they’re both men, but because the emotions they express and how they deal with jealousy and conflict feel true to life. You feel connected to the characters and their struggles while watching Bros because everything that happens to them could easily happen to you.

Another thing that sets Bros apart from other romantic comedies is the representation present in the cast. Bros features a primarily LGBTW+ cast, and likewise, so are the characters. It is refreshing to see many different kinds of people represented on screen, and it allows the movie to connect with a broader audience. Straight white men have dominated cinema for as long as it has existed, and now, it feels like other voices are finally being heard. 

However, many people are not willing to listen. On its opening weekend, Bros made a meager $4.8 million. Eichner reacted with disappointment, tweeting, “[S]traight people, especially in certain parts of the country, just didn’t show up for Bros. And that’s disappointing but it is what it is.” Backlash for the movie was expected, but not to the extent that was seen. 

While Bros is not a perfect movie, it is still a movie worth seeing. It’s historic, powerful, and at some points, pretty funny. If we want to keep seeing representation like this depicted in mainstream media, we need to go support Bros.