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How Mitchells vs the Machines Creators Convinced Sony on Queer Lead

How 'Mitchells vs the Machines' Creators Convinced Sony on Queer Lead

How 'Mitchells vs the Machines' Creators Convinced Sony on Queer Lead

Take note, Pixar.

rachelkiley

2021’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines very notably had something exceedingly uncommon in an animated studio film — a queer lead. And the creative team behind the movie is opening up about the process of convincing Sony that was the right move.

According to a recent interview with Insider, Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe, who co-wrote and co-directed the film, realized during the process that Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) was gay.

“When people were like, ‘Well they will never let us do it,’ it was like we are they,” Rianda said. “We are the decision-makers in the room. We can either choose this or not.”

Although Rianda is straight, he seems to have hit on an important and curious point. The advancement of LGBTQ+ inclusion in film and TV has come so far in such a short time that we still have creative teams so accustomed to studios and networks refusing to allow representation that they sometimes preemptively act as their own gatekeepers, stripping away the possibility of queerness out before a higher up has even had the opportunity to say no.

And considering Pixar executives were accused just days ago of routinely insisting films turn clear-cut LGBTQ+ rep into nothing more than queer-coding, unfortunately, it’s not that surprising.

But the creative team behind The Mitchells vs. the Machines opted to push on, with the hope of convincing Sony that letting Katie have a crush on another girl at school was the right move for the character and the movie. They did so in part by having LGBTQ+ people working on the team write letters to the execs explaining why it was so important to have this representation.

And though some folks in the meeting reportedly expressed concerns about international sales — a common scapegoat as to why LGBTQ+ characters are left to subtext or small roles in big films — Rianda says that he was able to get the folks at Sony on board fairly quickly.

“Sony really pulled through and didn’t chicken out, because the truth is, you can’t do this at every studio,” he said.

But with every major studio that genuinely supports LGBTQ+ inclusion in their films, rather than just paying lip service with hollow internal memos, we move one step closer to a world where you can.

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Rachel Kiley

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.