Is Oscar-Nominated “Revolting Rhymes” Secretly a Lesbian Love Story About Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood?

The Oscars are this weekend, and the Best Picture category is shockingly low on lesbian content, which is, of course, sarcasm because the Best Picture category is always low on lesbian content and no I will not stop talking about Carol’s Oscar snub! Dee Rees and Rachel Morrison are the only out lesbians nominated for awards, both for their work on Mudbound.

But I am here to tell you about a little lesbian love story that snuck its way into the nominations. Revolting Rhymes is an Oscar-nominated animated short based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name. It’s a dark and funny spin on interwoven fairy tales. It’s also secretly a dark rom com about young Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White falling in love.

so tender

The subtext is so discernible that I’d have a hard time believing it’s unintentional. Little Red and Snow White meet, as any great rom com couple does, under less-than-ideal circumstances. Snow White’s mother has just died, and Little Red is barely scraping by on the money she makes from selling flowers to village people. Little Red and Snow White form an intense friendship, leaning on each other to get by during some of the darkest days in their lives. They pick flowers together, hold hands, are gentle with one another. It’s a very lovely juxtaposition to all of the darkness in the story, and it’s clear right away that their bond is for life.

just a friendship hang in a field of flowers

Violence and misfortune separate the young women. Snow White moves to the city and starts wearing a striped Lesbian Mockneck, which is most definitely a thing. Little Red Riding Hood has to kill two wolves and revamp her wardrobe before she can be reunited with her long lost love. She eventually moves to the city to be with Snow White and they do that thing where they touch their heads together while closing eyes??? The chemistry and romance is baked into the animation, the physicality between the characters teetering just ever so tenderly into the More Than Friends zone.

did Little Red Riding Hood borrow that hat from Therese Belivet?

Now, I’m mostly joking when I say that Revolting Rhymes has the best lesbian rep of any Oscar-nominated movie, especially since the love story remains just below the surface of the short and never quite breaks through. Sadly, there’s no grand kiss during their reunion. But it really is a fun short with a warm relationship between two women at its center that’ll make your heart flutter even if they’re just supposed to be fairytale “friends.” Unfortunately—given that Thelma got shut out of the Foreign Film category, Battles Of The Sexes out of the Best Picture category, and BPM out of the documentary category—subtext is really all we’ve got in terms of seeing lesbians’ stories unfold on screen in Oscar-nominated movies.

So watch Revolting Rhymes on Netflix right now. And don’t forget to root for Carol (2015) at the 2018 Oscars on Sunday.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a Brooklyn-based writer, television critic, and comedian who spends most of her time over-analyzing queer subtext on television, singing "Take Me Or Leave Me" in public places, and assembling cheese platters. She has a cat named after Piper Halliwell from Charmed, and her go-to karaoke song is "Everywhere" by Michelle Branch. Her writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her screaming in all-caps about Kalinda Sharma, Jennifer Lopez, and oysters on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayla has written 154 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. I caught this on tv last Christmas and was so confused and happy. I mean technically it’s never refuted on screen that they are not queers. I have no idea who created this film but why they didn’t give it the overtly gay ending it was screaming out for I don’t know.

  2. I’ve loved Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes since approximately the age of 6, and managed to accidentally memorise the entirety of the Cinderella poem a while back (incidentally, I could talk for ages about how wonderfully subversive the end of that poem is, like, the “happy ending” isn’t about getting Prince Charming at all, but instead finding someone less-expected but who makes you smile? It’s not queer in the poem but damn if the general sentiment doesn’t warm my queer heart anyway), so it’s safe to say that I am HYPED for this.

    …and then I find out we don’t get it on UK Netflix. Curse you, regional differences!

    • An update: I found it on Amazon, watched the Snow/Red short, and it was everything I hoped for and more. Looking forward to watching the second one tonight, even if Jack/Cinderella promises less delightful gayness.

  3. What a coincidence! I work in my college’s theater, and just yesterday they were screening the Oscar-nominated animated films Negative Space, Garden Party, and Revolting Rhymes. After the screening there was a Q&A (I was running the mics so I was handing it to the people with questions! It was fun!) with all the creators/directors, and someone asked this question. One of the creators basically said it was up to interpretation. He mentioned a bit of cultural difference too and how audiences from different countries interpreted it differently (they’re German).
    I recommend these films to everyone! They’re really sweet and Revolting Rhymes was really funny too. Negative Space was also really interesting because one of the creators mentioned how, as a Japanese woman working in film, she was representing far more people than she ever thought she would.

  4. This was on in the UK a couple of Christmases ago and i didn’t shut up about how gay it was then. It’s a two part anthology within the framework of 2 children being told the stories and i think the ending implies that the kids are Snow and Cinderellas. It’s so cute and I’m glad it’s getting a larger recognition

  5. I’m not sure when Roald Dahl wrote this, but Phoebe Dahl (his granddaughter) is gay. Wikipedia tells me she was 2 when he died, but must be so nice to think your grandad that you never really even knew wrote such a great story reflecting (as much as a kids book could get away with at the time) a wlw relationship.

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