“This is not the Girl Scouts! This is espionage.”
D.E.B.S., written and directed by Angela Robinson, is a cult classic comedic action film about lesbian spies. Complete with a forbidden romance, a private spy school and a killer soundtrack, D.E.B.S. is a quintessential early 2000s movie.
The D.E.B.S., named for their core qualities of Discipline, Energy, Beauty, and Strength, are spies selected using a secret test embedded in the SAT. Those who score high enough are invited to attend an elite academy to be trained as top-notch spies. The film follows one team of D.E.B.S. made up of Amy (Sara Foster), Max (Meagan Good), Janet (Jill Ritchie), and Dominique (Devon Aoki). They live in a sorority-style house and spend time together at home, in class, and on the job.
The movie explores the shifting power dynamics of the group as they fight Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster), a notorious criminal who also happens to be a lesbian. The D.E.B.S. plan to capture Lucy on a mission, but when she’s cornered by Amy, something happens. There’s a spark between them, something unexplainable. Amy lets Lucy go, failing the mission because she felt something from Lucy.
The two embark on a whirlwind romance shortly after. Amy slips away from the D.E.B.S. and the two fall in love while the academy sends out search parties for her rescue. The situation is a bit strange, but Lucy and Amy’s relationship develops quickly and makes them both reconsider their roles in the spy community.
Their romance is especially notable because Lucy is out from the start, unlike many coming out narratives seen in other movies. She’s a lesbian and her identity isn’t questioned, it’s just a part of her. Amy does end up coming out, but she’s accepted fairly easily and the story is focused on the relationship rather than the struggle of coming out.
Angela Robinson’s D.E.B.S. replaces the typical heterosexual storyline with a lesbian one in an action-packed, campy movie that is wildly entertaining for any audience.
Jenni Holtz is a film critic and master’s student in Media and Cinema Studies. They are a staff writer at In Their Own League and Flip Screen and have contributed to FilmEra and Screen Queens. Their passions include transgender representation, genre cinema and cooking shows.