Hulu’s ‘Prom Dates’ Tries to Be ‘Superbad’ for Queer Girls

I love teen comedies. Growing up in the 90s and 00s, movies made for teens were top tier entertainment, and you could find me sat and ready. So when I heard about the new Hulu movie Prom Dates I was intrigued — the plot reminded me of my favorite movies from this golden era.

In Prom Dates, best friends Jess and Hannah (played by Antonia Gentry and Julia Lester respectively) hope to fulfill the pact they made when they were 13 to have the best prom ever. But now, it’s the day before, and both girls find themselves without dates. Determined to get things back on track, Jess and Hannah set out to find new dates, and chaos ensues.

Prom Dates is not a bad movie, but it’s also not a good movie. It feels like they were trying to go for a female-led Superbad, but the end result falls flat. The characters aren’t interesting enough, and I don’t think I did much more than chuckle the whole time.

The movie opens with young Jess and Hannah making their “prom pact” by cutting their palms open in a blood oath. Hannah cuts too deep and blood comes spurting out, eventually smeared down the chest of a female prom goer. (This isn’t the only time bodily fluids are played for the joke. Blood comes up again, as well as vomit.) Fast forward to the present. Jess is going to prom with the hottest guy at school in an attempt to win prom queen — even though it’s clear that he’s not that into her — and Hannah’s boyfriend Greg does a big promposal for Hannah — even though it’s clear she’s not that into him.

That evening, Jess finds out her hot boyfriend is cheating on her and promptly breaks up with him. Meanwhile, Greg tells Hannah he’s decided to go to Penn State instead of Stanford to be with her causing her to freak out and leave. The girls meet up at Hannah’s to regroup, and Hannah tells Jess she’s a lesbian. One of the reasons she freaked out about Greg transferring is because she was excited to live her best gay life in college, and now she’s afraid she’ll have to keep up the lie.

What comes next was my favorite moment of the movie. Jess tells Hannah she’s known she was a lesbian for a while, and when Hannah asks why she never said anything, Jess replies, “It’s not my story to tell.” That’s when they make their plan: They’re going to find new prom dates and still have their best prom ever. Jess will find a hot guy, and Hannah will find the lesbian of her dreams. Except Hannah already has a dream lesbian — it’s classmate Angie (played by Terry Hu, who you may remember from Never Have I Ever) who Hannah was fantasizing about before Greg’s promposal. But she decides she can’t ask Angie, and the girls set off.

This was the point where the movie lost it for me. Each new situation the girls find themselves in feels like it’s checking off a box from an imaginary list of things that teen comedies are supposed to have. The girls end up at a party being thrown by their former classmate known as Vodka Heather (played by Zión Moreno) that is filled with your typical teen movie debauchery. They are greeted at the door with shots, and Hannah begins drinking random alcohol she finds. She then encounters Heather, who peer pressures her into doing a bump of cocaine to make it easier to talk to girls. Hannah then has her first make out session that ends with an unfortunate surprise I shall leave unspoiled.

While I had higher hopes overall for a screenwriter who says they “spend most of their time being gay,” Hannah’s coming out storyline is done well. She admits to Jess that the first time Greg went down on her, she had to picture Rachel Weisz in The Mummy to orgasm, which felt real. (I did however wonder if Gen Zers are still using The Mummy as a gay awakening.) Julia Lester is queer and she brings an authenticity to Hannah, as she did playing queer on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

All in all, Prom Dates could have been a lot worse. If you’re looking for a mindless movie to put on and zone out to, this would be perfect. It’s just that in 2024, I’m hoping for something a little better than fine. Yes, I know that as an adult I’m not the intended audience, but I think teens also have higher standard. In the end, it didn’t live up to its premise — or the teen movies of decades past.

Prom Dates begins streaming on Hulu May 3.

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Sa'iyda Shabazz

Sa'iyda is a writer and mom who lives in LA with her partner, son and 3 adorable, albeit very extra animals. She has yet to meet a chocolate chip cookie she doesn't like, spends her free time (lol) reading as many queer romances as she can, and has spent the better part of her life obsessed with late 90s pop culture.

Sa'iyda has written 122 articles for us.

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