If you’ve seen the posters for Blockers, the latest teen comedy about the age-old quest to lose one’s virginity, you’ve probably noticed a white outline of a rooster substituting the missing syllable in the film’s cheeky title (ICYMI, a riff on the slang term for one who thwarts sexual activity). But the film itself, which follows three parents’ mission to impede their daughters’ prom-night sex pact, is relatively cock-free. In fact, the film not only flips the script on the comedic virginity-loss trope (which, from Superbad to American Pie, has always centered on male desire), it also shuts down the stereotypically heteronormative image of virginity in general; one of the three female protagonists—Sam, portrayed by Gideon Adlon—hopes her first sexual experience is with a girl, not a boy.
Directed by 30 Rock and Pitch Perfect scribe Kay Cannon, the film is being touted as the first big-budget, female-driven comedy for the #MeToo era. But Adlon, 21, doesn’t jump to over-congratulate the film on its wokeness. “On set, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh there’s a woman director,’” she says. “It really didn’t feel like there was a difference, which is how it should be. It shouldn’t be 8% female directors in the industry.”
Adlon is certainly used to seeing funny women in charge. Her mom, Pamela Adlon, created and stars in the FX series Better Things, a comedy about a single mom and voice actress loosely based on he own life. And while she gives due credit to her mom, Adlon says she wanted her feature film debut to come from within. “Of course I asked her about some things,” she says. “But I really developed Sam on my own.”
Despite her comedic DNA, Adlon says she is naturally more drawn to drama, which served her in the sentimental aspects of Sam’s storyline. In addition to the coming-out process, Sam navigates a tricky relationship with her ne’er-do-well father (Ike Barinholtz), a thread Adlon says she pulled from her own experience. “Sam and I definitely have certain similarities, like the absentee father,” she says. “I was always naturally drawn to drama, so it’s funny that my character has the more dramatic storyline in the movie.”
Without having first-hand knowledge of the coming out experience, Adlon says she felt a particular duty to do justice to the LGBT community. “That was a really important part that I was nervous about,” she says. “But I feel like losing your virginity and finding your first love is just a crazy, scary, awkward, weird thing for everyone. Sam wants [what everyone wants]. She just doesn’t want it with a guy.”
True to this up-and-coming actress’s progressive values and Hollywood pedigree, Adlon hails from the liberal bastion of Los Angeles. Here is where you’ll find her IRL.
Cup of Joe: I love Aroma Café in the Valley. It’s so cute and cozy and there are plants everywhere. It’s just a nice place to go on a rainy day. And I don’t even drink coffee. I hate coffee. I like tea.
Cocktail Hour: There are bunch of really cool hidden bars that I really want to go to [Adlon turned 21 after this interview took place]. And all the places my mom has always wanted me to go to. Like the karaoke bars. I’m open to anything. I don’t really know the names because I’m still a baby [laughs]. 9 more days. I’m excited for the dive bars.
Retail Therapy: I love the crazy thrift stores deep in the valley. Like Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks area. Shout out the Valley Value Center. It’s really dirty but if you go you’ll find good stuff. And flea markets and Jet Rag and Paper Moon Vintage. American Rag. And the Rose Bowl Flea Market is my shit.
Hidden Gem: Descanso Gardens are really beautiful. In the fall they have deciduous trees. Thanks Ms. Orr in 1st Grade for teaching me about deciduous trees. All the Japanese gardens. If you want to have a good read and just disappear for a while. And Vista Hermosa Natural Park in Echo Park is a really beautiful park that looks over Downtown.
Main image: Gideon Adlon © Andrea Calvetti