I always go into new shows hoping for the best but preparing for the worst re: queer representation, so I was pretty surprised when FX’s Class of ’09 swiftly gifted us with more queer women in the first three episodes than I expected to see over the course of the FBI-based show. The show also eased a fear I didn’t realize I had by guaranteeing that the end of The L Word: Generation Q did not mean the end of Sepideh Moafi playing queer and looking at women like she wants to devour them.
Now, while this show is similarly named to the Australian comedy Class of ’07, it couldn’t be more different. Though 2009 is a great year to have graduated from things, that is not even the only year we experience in this show. We follow nurse-turned-FBI-agent Poet and her training class in the years 2009, 2023, and 2034, deemed “The Past,” “The Present,” and “The Future,” by title cards. The Past is full of young hopefuls trying to set aside their baggage to make friends and get through training, The Present has eager agents trying to make a difference in this organization they’ve given their life to, and The Future is riddled with the consequences of their actions.
There are a handful of agents in the Class of ’09 whose lives we follow, but most important to me and to us are Poet and her roommate Hour. Poet is played by Kate Mara, who is very famous for many things and is extremely talented but to me will always be the girl who made out with Sophia Bush on Nip/Tuck because that is when my closeted baby brain imprinted on her. And at first I thought that I was imagining the flirting, thinking maybe Kate Mara and Sepideh Moafi just had insane chemistry that the show didn’t mean to be showing me but I was just picking up because I see the world through rainbow glasses.
But almost immediately upon meeting each other for the very first time, Hour is telling Poet all her hopes and fears and Poet is telling Hour that she will help her however she can because she needs her to stay in the program with her. That’s literally in their very first scene the very first time they meet. Instant connection, they skipped over small talk, it was a wonder to behold. Later in their program, Hour helps set poet up with a boy while also looking at her longingly because such is the way of a queer with a crush on her seemingly straight best friend.
As we bounce back and forth between timelines, their story unfolds in a non-linear way and we learn a few important queer things:
- At some point in The Future, in the 9 years Hour and Poet spent with little-to-no contact, Hour marries a woman and has a child with her.
- Also in the Future, Hour mentions she once admitted to Poet that she was in love with her.
- In The Present, Hour is engaged to a man (if she’s bi or doesn’t come out until later is yet to be seen) but during her engagement party, shares a dance with Poet in which they press their entire bodies up against each other.
- In The Past, Poet drives a Subaru.
- At a few different points in the timeline, someone alludes to Poet’s partners, past or hypothetical, and she responds without using gender-specific pronouns, or doesn’t clarify when someone else does, which tells me two things: 1) the writers are being coy about whether or not she ends up properly partnered with Hour at any point, 2) the character, Poet, even if she’s not queer, has no problem being perceived as such and doesn’t find it relevant to clarify the genders of her dating past or future until she’s talking about one ex in particular. She didn’t even answer the question “boys or girls” when presented to her by a chief of police while she was undercover exposing their corruption even though it probably would have behooved her to just insist she was straight, based on the type of men she was dealing with.
Now, I’m going to be honest, the most fun part of this show to me has been trying to parse out exactly what happened between Hour and Poet and when. Because the way Past and Present Poet and Hour interact is very flirty and charged, but the way Future Poet and Hour interact is full of wistfulness and an almost longing, like exes who are still very much in love but had to part ways for reasons beyond their control. But it remains to be seen if they ever actually dated or if they have been missing each other for the past 25 years. (Though based on the third episode, I think not only did they date, but also they maybe even lived together for a while after their program… and history will say they were roommates.)
All that said, this story is not just about that, despite my escalated interest in that particular storyline. (As evidenced by the unnecessarily high number of photos I’ve included for a three-episode review.) And don’t get me wrong, I do like the other storylines, too. The actual plot of the show is that the Class of ’09 is involved, in various ways, in attempts to improve the FBI and try to eliminate the very real problem of human error and bias. Their classmate Tayo was an insurance agent who witnessed how human bias drastically affected how customers were treated and eventually makes his way to director in his quest to make a difference in a more impactful way than he could working in insurance. Hour is brilliant and works in Cybersecurity to develop a program that can present evidence and information faster than any person could, to take everything every agent knows and let it be at the disposal of even the newest agents. But of course the FBI rejected her idea but then stole and twisted it into something else; something that instead of a database is a predictive AI who is arresting people based on crimes they will potentially commit based on a pattern of behavior like some kind of Minority Report situation.
I really like the way this show is three shows in one without feeling too fragmented. It’s telling one story but in three distinct ways. It shows the evolution of how we talk about race and police corruption from 2009 to 2023, it shows a Black Mirror-esque future where maybe we let our reliance on technology go too far.
The show is about a central mystery, about the technology they developed, about the goals they set out to achieve, but it’s mostly about what it says on the tin: the Class of ’09. It’s about these people from all different backgrounds — not just racially or economically but even just their jobs; they have a former nurse, insurance agent, lawyer, etc) and their relationships to each other, the way they inform each other’s decisions, the way they change the trajectory of each other’s lives. At one point in The Present, Poet and Hour are reunited with Drew, one of their training agents (who is played by Brooke Smith aka Erica Hahn) and she says that their class was the best class, and that those two specifically are the pride of her career, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the journey of finding out exactly why that is.