Friday, May 28, 2021


Angela Robinson

I am not sure what set me on course to find and watch D.E.B.S. When it came out in theaters back in 2004 I didn’t pay it much mind and it appears most of the movie viewing public didn’t either. After that it was perennial shelf warmer at video stores but nothing about it really encouraged me to watch it. I figured it was just another spy spoof with a little titillation and the veneer of girl power but mostly an exercise in light entertainment.

Turns out I was only half-right.

Perhaps it was coming out as trans. Maybe my gaydar is now finally honed that I can pick up signals long thought lost to my own brain, but for reasons I could not explain  I went and hunted up a copy of D.E.B.S. only to discover that yes, not only is many of the things I thought it was, it also a silly lesbian romance. Still not a common occurrence in 2004 and seeing one so carefree to boot was a lovely revelation.

This looks like an FMV game on the Genesis Saturn

The set-up for D.E.B.S. is pretty rote. A secret worldwide spy agency employs young women to bring criminals to justice. They just happen to wear schoolgirl outfits with blue plaid skirts and carry huge guns. Amy (Sara Foster) is the perfect student of the D.E.B.S. (Discipline, Energy, Beauty, Strength) organization, she aced the test to get in and is a consummate team member. Things go awry when she and a former spy turned super criminal, Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster) fall in love and try to navigate their romance without the rest of the D.E.B.S. discovering the truth.

Let’s get a few things out of the way, D.E.B.S. looks terrible. Shot on HD video, it looks cheap. The green screen and CGI work has not aged well at all. The action scenes lack any kind of punch or excitement. If this film had any pretention to being a real spy film, it would fail on every level. As a comedy it rarely elicited more than a few chuckles. The acting is fine if unremarkable. The soundtrack of D.E.B.S. however excels not only by primarily using women's music, but it also breathes life into the movie by keeping the energy moving when the visuals often fail.

The most stressful foreplay.

The romance of D.E.B.S. is also pretty standard stuff with two opposites attracted to one another. Given the generally light tone of the film I did not worry too much about things turning out poorly for our characters. What makes things notable is that these characters not only have to bridge their differences, but they also take action to extract them selves from the oppressive systems they are a part of, Lucy steps away from her life of crime and attempts to make amends, and Amy bucks the unjust structures of the D.E.B.S. organization. If nothing else D.E.B.S. is interesting in that such a light comedy takes a few steps to address systemic issues around queer romance. 

D.E.B.S. is not a great movie but it does offer a few surprises that have nothing to do with the spy comedy parts of the film. Just enjoy the lesbian romance and fun soundtrack. The rest is disposable.

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