Why Did Applebee’s Destroy the Lesbian Love Story in Their New Take-Out Commercial?!

Last week Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar released a commercial to promote their new To Go Window, set to the tune of Melissa Etheridge’s 1993 super smash hit, “Come to My Window.” Did you know at the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar’s To Go Window you can order: pasta, wings, quesadillas, celery sticks, mozzarella sticks, nachos, salad, a steak, more pasta, and more wings? I learned that from the commercial. Did you also know that “Come to My Window” was the first single from Melissa Etheridge’s Yes I Am album (as in Yes I Am Gay) which she dropped right after she came out as a lesbian and that the very gay lyrics were written about her gay girlfriend Julie Cypher who crawled through her window for the explicitly gay purpose of scissoring? I did not learn that from the commercial; I already knew it in my brain and heart because “Come to My Window” is one of the most popular gay songs ever written.

Why then, Reader, did Applebees’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar straightwash the lesbian love story right out of the ad?!

Here is Samantha, let’s call her. Sam. She’s walking through the parking garage at the mall after an early evening of shopping and she’s hungry and the first thing she thinks of — okay, the first thing, even though there’s for sure a Sbarro and Chick-fil-A in that mall, and she could have either of those delicacies with an Orange Julius — is driving to an Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar.

In the rain. Driving there in the rain, in the dark. To an Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar.

Is it for the food? Reader, we both know it is not.

What’s it for then? Why go out of your way in treacherous weather to get a to-go steak? Oh, of course, Alex — let’s call her — is the one delivering the food.

I wonder what Alex means to Sam. I wonder if we can tell by the look on Sam’s face when she sees Alex coming to her window, by the light of the moon. I wonder if we can tell by the way she gasps when Alex reaches toward her. And Alex, with a smile on her face, in a torrential downpour, at her job where she probably makes minimum wage and gets tipped ten percent on a bill for a literal one-dollar margarita. The eye contact. The things they do not say.

Love. It’s love. And the whole time they’re beaming at each other in this thunderstorm, let me remind you, Melissa Etheridge is crooning a song that features the lyrics, “I don’t care what they think. I don’t care what they say. What do they know about this love, anyway?” and “I’ll be home, I’ll be home, I’M COMING HOOOOOME.”

It’s a beautiful lesbian love story. It’s basically the plot of Carol — and then Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar ruins it by sending Sam home to her husband.

Nice queerbaiting, Applebee’s. I hope you don’t choke on your stupid wings, Chad.


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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Heather has written 710 articles for us.

44 Comments

  1. I was so disappointed when I saw this ad! I heard Melissa’s iconic song, looked up at my TV, the expectation building with every gay lyric, and oh my little heart was so ready for the woman to go home to her wife and them BAM! A man. I never thought I would feel such huge annoyance with an ad, but I’m glad I wasn’t the only one.

  2. I never paid attention to the commercial because, Applebee’s. Even though I sing along. I have wonderful memories pertaining to this song that consists of me at a Melissa Etheridge concert at the Blockbuster Amphitheater in Charlotte NC and a whole lot more lesbians, circa 1994.

  3. MAYBE one day, Alex shows up at Sam’s door, it is raining again (still?). Sam looks at Alex, confused. She had just returned home with her order, ready to dive into some reruns of Law & Order: SVU, probably from season 3 because there’s something about Olivia’s hairstyle in season 3 that Sam just can’t get off her mind.

    Sam: …what are you doing here?
    Alex: Hi, I know you were probably just sitting down to enjoy your Fiesta Lime Chicken, but we forgot to give you the Mexi-ranch dressing that you requested on the side… I brought it for you.
    Sam: You didn’t have to do that.
    Alex: *shrugs and looks at her shoes. They’re not her standard Converse because her workplace requires non-slip footwear, but she found a pair of high tops on the Shoes For Crews site that allows her to express her personality while adhering to company policy*
    Sam: do you have to go back to work, or would you like to come in? I was going to make myself a margarita to go with my Fiesta Lime Chicken. *Sam doesn’t mention that she calls this tradition of marathoning SVU and indulging in a cocktail, “having a Mariska Harg-arita”*

    It dawns on Alex that Sam only purchased ONE order of Fiesta Lime Chicken today…

    Alex: what about Chad?
    Sam: Chad never brought me Mexi-ranch dressing in the rain…

    Sam steps aside, encouraging Alex to enter her home AND HER HEART.

    THE END.

    …maybe also a joke about “Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood”

  4. When I first saw the commercial, I was confused why it was so straight. Then thought I wonder if they even know how gay this song is. Then again, I met someone last year who like choose the songs that are played in trailers and she said whenever she could she would try to choose ones that were feminist or lgbtq. Maybe someone in the ad company is lgbtq and was like, “I have a great idea.” However, Applebees was like, “but it won’t work because we I cis-het exec can’t imagine myself in that commercial and nor can Applebee customer.” And she’s like, “what’s your point? I have to do for pretty much every other commercial.” So, because of that we now have this compromise where we get the gay song(and Melissa gets some money out of it) with a straight video.

  5. I hadn’t seen this but I have to somewhat disagree; if I am starving I am staring at that food coming my way with lust in my eyes too. I am a bit disappointed that Melissa Etheridge would sell out her song this way though.

  6. Queer females: Super senses-the ability to sense and over analyze the fuck out of any possible subtext in any possible situation

    Superpowers- the ability to create great stories out of any shred of subtext that is given to them

  7. Honestly, my first guess would be that this is her brother and they are watching old home-videos of Sam playing softball and joking about why they didn’t figure it out sooner. But they are so happy Sam found love at Applebee’s!

  8. You are realllllly overthinking this sweetie…Its a commercial…Its a song! After all…Its just food. Cant you do better than this? Appreciate her voice if nothing else. This song could mean a million different things to a million different people…Drop the lesbianism crap. #noonecares

  9. I figured that they did the ad as a quick little fantasy for the bored housewife, who yearns toward her female server to the tune of Melissa’s anthem, but then lands safely back home with her incredibly unimpressive-looking hubby. Would corporate America use repressed lesbian urges to sell take-out meals? I think they would.

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