Expand your horizons and expose yourself to the diverse stories of women loving women in different forms of media.
In the world’s ever-growing repertoire of queer media, stories about sapphics/women-loving-women still take up much less space than their male-dominated counterparts. There’s much discussion to be had about “proper” queer representation in media in general, but for now it’s good to diversify our own libraries, per se, by checking out these movies, series, and books all available to watch, stream, and read—and all about the sapphics.
The Half of It (2020)
This movie is a consistent placer on lists of great WLW media. And for good reason! The Half of It is a retelling of the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac, in that it features our protagonist Ellie (Leah Lewis) pretending to be someone else while communicating with someone they like. The Half of It is a subversive and refreshing take on sapphic media, touching on issues of freedom and friendship as it puts young, sweet relationships in the limelight.
Baka Bukas (2016)
Fresh from the successful theatrical run of her new film Rookie, Samantha Lee has proven to deliver quality queer content. As Lee’s first project as director, Baka Bukas achieved success and set the foundations for her career of crafting beloved sapphic stories. In the film, Alex (Jasmine Curtis-Smith) helplessly falls for her best friend Jess (Louise delos Reyes) and they must navigate a world of changes to their relationship. Baka Bukas will be available to stream on Netflix starting August 25.
Shiva Baby (2020)
Danielle (Rachel Sennott) is a hot queer mess. What else would you be when you attend a shiva (a week-long period of mourning practiced in Judaism) with your entire family, your ex-girlfriend, and your sugar daddy and his wife and child? Shiva Baby is praised for being hilarious and awkward, with Danielle being “cringe-worthy in the best way,” and is a movie to be watched through horrified looks and snorts of laughter.
Billie and Emma (2018)
Set in the 90s, Billie and Emma lays out the conflicts of being gay and being a young woman in a small town. Billie (played by openly queer Zar Donato) is sent to a strict all-girls Catholic school where she meets smart, popular Emma (Gabby Padilla), and faces a slew of resistance to their relationship—one of which is Emma’s sudden pregnancy. Samantha Lee’s second film is genuine, fun, and is unafraid to be honest in representing tough issues. It champions queer love both in the story and its production.
This high school rom-com is light fun with a sweet ending. Crush was accompanied by a calling-out controversy involving star Auliʻi Cravalho, targeted at co-star Rowan Blanchard. Regardless, the two exuded adorable chemistry and sincerity in the coming-of-age film about artist Paige (Blanchard) navigating her long-harbored feelings for crush Gabriella (Isabella Ferreira) and newfound feelings for Gabriella’s sister AJ (Cravalho).
The way Samantha Lee consistently delivers lovely, genuine sapphic stories is awe-inspiring. Her most recent work is a love story set in the world of high school volleyball. Rookie stars Pat Tingjuy as Ace, a reluctant basketball player-turned-volleyball player, and Aya Fernandez as Jana, the driven captain of the volleyball team. Rookie won three awards at the Cinemalaya 2023 awarding ceremony: Best Editing, Audience Choice, and Best Actress for Tingjuy.
Warrior Nun (2020)
If you were on X (formerly Twitter) last year, you’d have seen the outrage that poured in at Netflix’s cancellation of fantasy series Warrior Nun. Thankfully, just last August 16, it was announced that the story will continue as a trilogy, much to the delight of its dedicated fanbase. The story of demon fighters, “warrior nuns,” Ava (Alba Baptista) and Beatrice (Kristina Tonteri-Young) hopefully gets to continue in all its glory.
Sleep with Me (2022)
Samantha Lee’s first streaming series is a warm, intimate look at a budding romance between Harry (Janine Gutierrez), a late-night radio DJ and wheelchair-user, and Luna (Lovi Poe), a textbook writer with a disorder that only lets her sleep during the day. Sleep with Me is a comforting rom-com with adorable performances, discussion on intersectionality, and a clear focus on love between two women.
This miniseries looks into the world of online dating coupled with the pressures of being an online couple. This close to breaking up, Beth (Kylie Padilla) and Cindy (Andrea Torres), receive news that they were selected to join a #RelationshipGoals contest where they have to prove to everyone that they’re the perfect couple so they could win a whopping 10 million pesos. Now the question is: how far can they go before something snaps?
Pearl Next Door
Webseries Pearl Next Door is another local offering that stars beloved BL Gameboys character Pearl (Adrianna So) and chronicles her journey to find love. Whether that’s with Karleen (Iana Bernardez), her best friend, or Alex (Rachel Coates), her former childhood best friend, you’ll have to watch to find out. Presented in a screenlife format with characters talking through screens, Pearl Next Door captures a modern, easy charm largely due to the distinct personalities of its characters.
Hailee Steinfeld plays prolific poet Emily Dickinson in this comedy-drama series about her life, romance with her best friend and future sister-in-law Susan Gilbert (Ella Hunt), and the limitations and pressures placed on a woman artist at the time. In a deliberate decision, Dickinson uses modern language and anachronism to deliver a fun, steamy, relatable story about love, womanhood, and freedom.
One Last Stop (2021)
Casey McQuiston’s debut novel Red, White, and Royal Blue found peak success both as a novel and now as a hit Amazon Prime movie adaptation. Their second novel One Last Stop is another prime example of WLW literature done well, with eccentric but authentic characters, a very subtle magical/sci-fi premise, and soaring, electric writing. August Landry meets punk, leather-clad rebel Jane Su on a train and falls in love. Only one problem: Jane is lost in time. She’s from the 1970s, she’s stuck on the train, and August will do anything to help her.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating (2021)
Everybody loves a good fake dating trope. Popular, bisexual student Hani comes out to her friends, but they’re invalidating and disbelieving! She lies that she’s actually in a relationship with a girl—Ishu. Ishu is smart and driven, and she agrees to fake date Hani if it means it gets her elected head girl. The YA novel is a breath of fresh air as it puts Bengali girls in the spotlight and uniquely intersperses their stories with a tried-and-true trope.
She Gets the Girl (2022)
Alex is brave, flirtatious, and fresh from a breakup she hopes isn’t for good. Molly is awkward and incapable of talking to her crush. They hatch a plan to work together to get their respective interests to love them, but can you take a guess as to who falls in love instead? Slow burn with a lot of banter, She Gets the Girl is a lighthearted classic YA read written by real-life wives.
Juliet Takes a Breath (2016)
Juliet is a lesbian Latina interning in Portland, Oregon for her favorite white feminist author Harlow Brisbane. She spends her summer figuring out everything about not just being gay, but being a gay, female, person of color in this vast, crazy world. Juliet Takes a Breath is a funny, moving, intersectional exploration of identity and the complexity of people.
The Falling in Love Montage (2020)
A light, fun read, The Falling in Love Montage sees cynical Saoirse embark on a summer fling with the vivacious Ruby. They agree to go on cheesy, romantic dates that’ll end the moment summer does—but of course, when has that ever worked out? This book offers a cute premise, a love built between two very different girls, family, and strong personalities.
It is stellar to see so much diversity in contemporary media, and we hope it only gets better from here. Love female and sapphic love by breathing in these stories and letting them lead us towards a more open world.