When writer and actor Joel Kim Booster decided to go to Fire Island for the first time eight years ago, he initially had some reservations. He knew he wasn’t your “typical Fire Island boy” (white, rich, well-connected), Booster told me in a recent interview – but he and his friend SNL star Bowen Yang went anyway.
Although they had a great time, Booster said, “there were times when it became clear: there are no straight people to oppress us, but gay men find a way.” While vacationing at Long Island’s historic gay resort, Booster re-read Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice for the first time since he was a teenager, and “it really struck me while I was there how relevant his observations of class are, especially the way people communicate across class lines.” As great as Fire Island and other spaces for gay men might be, there’s also “a lot of toxicity,” and Booster realized that Austen’s comedy of manners “could so easily be mapped onto our experience. “.
When he got home, Booster reflected on Austen and the island in an essay for Penguin Random House. “Austen may not have realized it at the time,” he wrote, “but his novels are wall-to-wall shadowed, the secret language of the modern homosexual of stealthily insulting each other with plausible enough denial to keep the party going.” She may have written about five middle-class sisters during the Regency period, but “she was also writing about my experience as a gay man in the 21st century.”
Booster’s agent suggested that he develop the ideas from the essay into a fictional project. The seeds of Fire Island, the charming Andrew Ahn-directed romantic comedy that Booster wrote, executive produced, and stars in, now on Hulu, has officially dropped. The film stars Booster as gay, broke, and proudly single Noah who, on an annual week-long friends trip to the island, tries to bring his best friend, Howie (played by his best friend IRL, Bowen Yang), to stop fantasizing. about traditional romance and just having fun and getting laid. In the Penguin Random House blog, Booster called Yang “a gay Chinese Jane to my gay Korean Lizzy,” and now he’s brought those characters to life in this gay version of Pride and Prejudice: Noah is our Elizabeth, proud and quick to judge, chatting with her sister Howie/Jane “about all the ways we were kind of above it all, just like everyone looked down on us.”