Tegan and Sara’s “Boyfriend” Video Was So Much Gayer In My Imagination

feature image via YouTube

Tegan and Sara’s single “Boyfriend,” off their forthcoming album Love You To Death is arguably one of the gayest songs they’ve ever written. It details the agonizingly relatable experience of falling for a girl who will be emotionally intimate with you, but is either actually straight or too tied up in internalized homophobia to reciprocate the feelings. (That’s my takeaway at least; am I just projecting?)

If you were hoping for some sort of visual depiction of that classically gay narrative in their eagerly anticipated video for “Boyfriend,” released this morning on Pitchfork, that’s not what you’ll find.

Directed by Clea DuVall, with cameo appearances from Mae Whitman (Arrested Development, Parenthood) and Sarah Ramos (her character was queer on Parenthood), this video is a bit mystifying. A frazzled video director played by Rachel Antonoff tries and rejects various backdrops and props including balloons; a green screen featuring a running herd of zebras; and weird paper doll outfits. The director finally has a meltdown and Sara comforts her and they hold hands, staring into each other’s eyes. Is that a queer moment?

It’s pretty weird, you guys!

Not that Tegan and Sara are in any way obligated to make a super gay video for their SUPER GAY song. They’re not obligated to, and their lyrics and videos are pretty consistently not so much queer as they are somewhere on the spectrum between gender-nonspecific and gender-inclusive. The video for “Closer” did that really well, and I think I expected the video for “Boyfriend” to be some kind of follow-up to that — like showing the way you would feel the morning after that party, when the friend you’re crushing on insists that cuddle sesh on the trampoline at 3 a.m. was PURELY platonic.

Watch “Boyfriend” below and please share all of your feelings and/or fan fic based on this video immediately.

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Maddie has written 100 articles for us.


  1. I like it. Part of me wonders if that’s because I’m so used to subtext that even though the song is caps lock 400 pt bold impact main text, I didn’t expect the video to be all that gay. Like does it need to be if the lyrics are? Hell I’d love to see more ladies smoochin’ and I think the world needs to see more ladies smoochin’. T&S videos are generally pretty weird – Call it off anyone? – I also like their comical facial expressions of the when the director melts down…and the puppies. So I guess I’d like to see more of the gay, but oddly I’m not that bothered that I didn’t.

  2. I saw someone describe this video as “wan,” which feels accurate. Wan with weird execution on that concept.

  3. As a person who’s edging into agender territory, it tickles me pick when they’re about to say “girlfriend” and substitute for “very best friend” even if it’s just because they don’t want to say Girlfriend when the girl doesn’t mean Girlfriend.

  4. I feel like someone was trying to get them to keep the weird faces and mouth twitching in check, but that it didn’t quite happen. Very glad the face wonkiness shined through!

    • The wind machine section… Omg. It’s almost like the whole thing is taking a shot at the weird videos they’ve done in the past.

  5. Hi yes I am here to talk about this video. I actually loved it? It’s kind of bizarre in typical Tegan and Sara video fashion, but with an additional knowing layer. And it’s funny too–Tegan trying not too laugh when the dogs run away? Oh gosh.

    Also I may want to grow out my hair now.

    Who is seeing them at the Fillmore, is the important question.

  6. I also wanted a gayer video, but they were cute as hell in this anyway. It still seemed very on brand for them.

  7. I suppose if they were satisfied with the gayness level, there would be no song. They want us to watch this nongay video and feel gay pain for lack of gayness.

  8. It seems like they still do a lot of winking and nodding and secret handshaking about being gay like they only want us to know if we Know.

    The song bangs though.

    • My very straight male friend became a fan of them without knowing they were gay, so you may be right.

  9. Feeling pretty meh about this video. Not only is it not gay, or related to the song at all, but I feel it’s really boring. Maybe they were like, ‘how can we ungay this song for the general public?’ and Clea DuVall was like ‘um pals…i dunno how to UNgay anything’ and then they came up with a billion random ideas and props then just made the actual video.

    • Yes. I feel this too. :(

      I also feel like the song has like one concept/idea and I kind of miss Sara’s old, quirky lyric writing style.

      • they have just been talking a lot about how they’re letting their guard down about the gay stuff and that they want to be The Queer Women Pop Stars, so I feel like this isn’t INTENTIONALLY de-gayed; it’s just like… not much of anything?

        fewer zebras; more mae whitman.

  10. T & S could make a video of them brushing their teeth or washing dishes for 3 minutes and I would find it crazy sexy.
    Lesbians with dark eye makeup and leather jackets are my biggest turn on of all time ((sigh)). If only I knew one IRL?

  11. And if anyone wants to see them in September in Houston hit me up so I don’t have to go alone?

  12. Which one is the one with the hilarious goofy dancing, especially in Closer, but also a little bit in this one as well? That part is my favorite. Whenever I watch their videos I get this impression of them as somewhat removed/socially awkward but enigmatic regardless. Or is that just like, musicians?

  13. My re-queering: this song has some very intense eye contact going on, which means that T&S are trying to woo *me* through the screen and asked their good friend Clea Buvall to help them. Mixed results, but I’ll take them anyway :)

  14. Look. If you’re going to have a publicly closeted gay person (Clea DuVall) direct your video about not wanting to be with a publicly closeted person then this is what you get. A bunch of weirdness with some maybe gay stuff? It’s weird for sure, but maybe next time get a not closeted person to do it? I mean, this is a person who refused to pick a fantasy sexytime partner in Janet Varney’s podcast’s M.A.S.H. game (to date, Clea Duvall is the only person out of 200 podcast guests that wasn’t asked “who would you fantasy bang” on this podcast and that omission speaks volumes). Literally the most innocuous thing ever and she wouldn’t even go there.

    I’m all for people doing things in their own time, but people who haven’t decided to publicly figure shit out perhaps make bad directors for ostensibly gay videos about closeted people.

    Rant with reference to random podcast that no one but me listens to (the JV club is really good!) over.

  15. I’m sorry about the stream of consciousness rant. I’ve had some whiskey and this made me angry.

  16. This video makes sense to me in the context of my experiences as an amorphous weirdo who is only “incidentally heterosexual” and being geographically stuck in a straight space but not meshing with space or the people AT ALL.

    Also the experience of someone trying to help me dress better by gifting me with a feminine cut shirt that expects a standard bolder holder, not a sports bra and poor little baby queer me trying to wear it with said sports and that being awkward for everybody.

    The pieces don’t mesh, which is frustrating.
    I feel like the video expresses the lack of mesh and the resulting frustration/disappointment from both sides.

  17. I have to admit that although I had heard about Tegan and Sara from every queer person I know, I just never really acknowledged it or listened to them since I already had music I loved. I am ashamed of this mistake now that I have been listening to all their songs on repeat for the past day.

  18. Listen, this song has destroyed my life, brought up memories of every straight girl I ever crushed on in high school, made me cry for 80 years….honestly, the video could have just been a static image of Sara Quin staring into the camera for 2 minutes and 59 seconds and I wouldn’t have cared.

      • Well, Maddie, Taylor is gay. And she beards. Everybody knows that. And she has her “gal pals”…

        Clues? Clues: kid with hula hoop= TS in Shake it Off; 2 dogs= 2 cats; zebras= Wildest Dreams video, which is all about her, Karlie (giraffe) and Calvin (lion)…

        There are some more but I´ve got to run now ;)

  19. Jawline and puppies.

    Okay, maybe the video was not that “gay” for the song content but maybe that’s the point? I don’t know.

    End result, I enjoyed it. Pretty much every lesbian on earth can relate to the song. “Never have I ever fallen in love with a straight girl” – All lesbians, drink.

    • Ahem! I’ll take the bottle, thankyouverymuch! <3 *Takes a swig* x.x Let's all have one big Autostraddle sleepover!

  20. I am in love with their haircuts, leather jackets, eyeliner and ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh my Goddess, that lipstick, amirite?!?!

    I……have yet to actually watch the video and pay attention the song itself. I’ll get there, I’ll get there! :P

  21. I watched this for video for the 10th time today (ahem! Okay…now 12th!) and I just can’t stop staring at them?

    When they stare at the camera, I feel like they’re staring at me and I start blushing. Is this normal?!?!?!?

    Their make-up is just…..so hawt! :3 lol

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