My preoccupation with the hilarious and, dare I say, revolutionary Bottoms has likely begun to annoy and ostracize my friends and family, but I see that as a victory. You see, when you are an academic such as myself, your studies become the most central aspect of your identity, your time, the very essence that is your life. I have carefully studied each intricacy of the Emma Seligman film, with a keen eye for detail, and for watching hot girls punch each other. Coming hot off my third watch, I feel most equipped to make the following assessments, the culmination of my efforts, my queer thesis: Which characters from Bottoms are actually bottoms?
Important note: This article is free of bottom-shaming! We are all made beautifully in gay god’s eyes, tops and bottoms and verses alike.
PJ: Bratty Bottom
PJ is the kind of lesbian who loves to talk a big game about her sexual prowess as a top, but when it comes time to seal the deal, reveals she doesn’t know much about topping at all. She’s likely to seem quite overconfident on the apps or at the bar but in the bedroom is immediately nervous. Which can be very cute! She’s eager in a way that can easily be as endearing as off-putting, but the right girl will enjoy it. She has some internalized shame about the idea of being a bottom and is very sensitive when you joke she may be one, but when she’s comfortable enough with someone, she can allow that vulnerability to fall away for a good time. She just needs someone to teach her there’s nothing wrong with being a bottom. But even after finding that person, she will definitely backseat-drive the whole experience, making snarky remarks the entire time, to hide the sincerity of how much she’s actually enjoying herself.
Josie: Service Top
I mean, we all saw the scene between her and Isabel and the way she hopped on top like a gay rumor on Taylor Swift. But without this evidence, how do we assess Josie? The natural foil to PJ’s advantageous, horny chaos, Josie is calm and collected, horny but not to her own detriment. She struggles sometimes to go after her own wants and needs and often gets dampened by PJ’s larger essence in a group setting. However, one-on-one, Josie’s witty, wholesome charm gets its chance to shine. We all grossly underestimate how much game a silly little guy of a lesbian truly has. They’re the masters of the slow burn — as Josie understands about her strengths, but we’re all glad she didn’t actually have to wait 20 years for Isabel to notice her. Caring, doting, Josie is the type to make sure you have a glass of water and to consistently ask for consent and how you’re doing, making sure you know you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.
Isabel: Dom Femme Power Bottom
Come on. Come on. Personal bias aside (Havana Rose Liu, I am exceedingly available), Isabel radiates this energy. She’s kind and soft in the right lighting, but she is not one to be fucked with — treat her right and she’ll be the girl of your dreams, but cross her and your car is one idiot lesbian away
from exploding into the ether of the night. As she famously says, “I really value when people use violence for me, it’s actually one of my love languages.” The most iconic scene in the film — and by iconic I mean the one that has pulled involuntary breaths of awe from my throat at every viewing — where she thunders into the cafeteria to confront Jeff, Charli XCX’s angry 8bit hyper-pop score echoing the swoosh of her skirt, solidifies herself in this category. She will play along with any overconfident top, but at the end of the day, she’s the one going after what she wants, and taking her cardigan off before you can even blink. She’ll get teased for being a pillow princess at parties, but instead of getting defensive, she’ll just smile and nod, knowing that the truth will be revealed when it needs to be.
Brittany: Pillow Princess
I hesitate to include Brittany in this assessment, as she’s straight according to the film (but according to that bedroom scene between her and PJ, I have doubts), but why not include her for the love of the game? Brittany is 100% a pillow princess. She’s the straight girl who says “Women are so beautiful, but I could never go down on one.” If she ever were to have sex with a woman (likely once, likely in college), she would sit back and enjoy the ride, saying things like “Wow, you’re really good at this,” or “My boyfriend never does this,” but will pretend she doesn’t know you when you’re put together in a group project in your English 101 class.
Jeff & Tim: Toxic Bottoms
Again, allegedly straight characters, but I’ve never seen something exemplify a toxic teenage homoerotic friendship quite like Jeff’s second-in-command and his dedication to the protection of Jeff. Sure, it’s for the good of “the team” that Tim spends the movie destroying any obstacle in the way of Jeff’s ultimate happiness and comfort. Right. Tim (I had to Google his character’s name) is going to come out in college, after realizing he’s been in love with Jeff for years. He’ll come out to Jeff, who will come to a similar gay conclusion after his friend does but will unfortunately not reciprocate. They’ll move to Boystown and become the debaucherous, lecherous, mean, toxic gays they deserve to be, with Tim pining after Jeff all the way.
She’ll try pretty much anything — she’s just happy to be included.