If you prefer your Jane Austen adaptations to be set in the Regency, it’s shaping up to be a good year: Sanditon’s second season has begun, and the Netflix adaptation of Persuasion is coming our way sometime in 2022.
If you’re open to contemporary reimaginings of Austen – and I, for one, am very, very open – then there’s even more good news: a same-sex update of Pride and Prejudice set in the world of gay men on Fire Island, New York, will start streaming on Hulu on June 3.
If this project sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been knocking around for a while: American actor/writer/comedian Joel Kim Booster originally sold the show to the short-lived Quibi streaming platform, where it was projected to air across ten short-form videos. When Quibi folded in late 2020, Searchlight Pictures transformed Booster’s idea into a full-length film.
According to a recent Vanity Fair piece, the movie, Fire Island, satirizes racism and classism in gay circles, in much the same way that Austen satirized the Regency obsessions with money and rank.
“A Jane Austen narrative meeting an Asian American narrative meeting a queer narrative,” says actor Bowen Yang, who seems to be playing the Jane Bennet character, to Booster’s Elizabeth. “Those three helices come together in a way that’s greater than the sum of their parts.”
Out in the world of fanfic, the idea of incorporating queer themes and non-white characters into Austen’s storylines is hardly new. On screen, however, this kind of project still counts as innovative. Marking my calendar for June 3.