‘Bottoms’: Director Emma Seligman Talks The Teen Comedy, Reteaming With Rachel Sennott & More [The Playlist Podcast]

It’s not very often we get a teen comedy that feels fresh and new. Thankfully, this week has the release of “Bottoms,” a teen comedy that subverts expectations and flips the script on a genre that can often feel stale. You can thank filmmaker Emma Seligman for that. And in this episode of The Playlist Podcast, Seligman joins us to discuss their newest film, “Bottoms,” and what makes it feel so different from other films that have come before. 

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that readers of The Playlist and listeners of this podcast are familiar with Seligman’s work. They’re probably best known for their debut film, 2020’s “Shiva Baby,” which is often described as the “Uncut Gems” of indie comedies. Not only did that film mark the debut for Seligman, but it also was a breakout hit for star Rachel Sennott.

READ MORE: ‘Bottoms’ Review: Emma Seligman’s Sophomore Feature Is No ‘Shiva Baby,’ But Still Delightfully Subversive [SXSW]

Now, the duo of Seligman and Sennott have reteamed for “Bottoms,” a teen comedy that feels like a campy throwback to films like “But I’m a Cheerleader” and “Heathers,” with a dash of “Wet Hot American Summer” thrown in for good measure. The film stars Sennott (who also co-wrote alongside Seligman) and “The Bear” breakout, Ayo Edibiri, as two queer teens in high school who basically start a fight club in hopes of attracting the women of their dreams. 

In my interview with Seligman, I ask them about working with Sennott again, who Seligman describes as a “joke machine,” but also what it was like to work with Edibiri, who is having quite a moment right now with “Bottoms,” “The Bear,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and “Theater Camp.” 

LISTEN: Rachel Sennott Talks The Anxiety Of ‘Shiva Baby,’ Bisexuality In Film, Brutal Zoom Comedy Shows & More [The Playlist Podcast]

“She’s earned it,” explained Seligman about Edibiri. “She’s worked so hard, and she’s so talented. Secondly, on a selfish level,it makes me feel validated because I feel like I have good taste [Laughs]. I’m so proud of her. I feel so excited to have a front-seat view of this rise for her.”

I also talk to the filmmaker about flipping the script on teen comedies, using two queer teen girls as the schemers trying to get laid in a genre that is male-dominated. 

“I was really, really excited to challenge that expectation of female characters and queer characters on screen in [teen comedies],” they said. “I wasn’t worried, but I was expecting—not pushback—but question-mark energy of like, ‘Wait, what?’”

Seligman added, “But I knew I didn’t want to copy those storylines and structures because, at the end of the day, they are different people because of their gender and sexualities. But also, we didn’t want to make the cutesy version of this and not have them being selfish and flawed and relatable.”

“Bottoms” arrives in theaters on August 25. You can listen to the full discussion below:

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