Anyone who has already watched Netflix’s Elite knows that it absolutely lives up to the height.
Although the trailer made it seem like yet another cheesy, over-acted teen drama, Elite quickly proved to be much more than that. Not only was it *perfectly* cast, written, and acted, it also tackled a ton of issues like HIV, Islamophobia, abortion, and more.
But even more impressive? That Elite actually did a great job depicting each issue, no matter how complex. In case you missed it, here are a few things they handled with total class (pun intended).
7. The Sex is All About the Woman
Did you notice how nearly every time a hetero couple hooked up, the guy went down on the girl? Hell yes! Most sex scenes on TV are usually all about the guy. The guy initiates things, the guy gets a blow job, etc. Not on Elite. When Carla and Christian hooked up, Carla was totally in charge and loving it! Christian even goes down on her without any prompting. Same thing when Samuel and Marina have sex for the first time. Samu almosts immediately goes down on her. Dare I say we got a taste of the female gaze?
6. How Nadia Reacted to Marina’s Decision to Get an Abortion
Now THIS is how I would like all anti-abortion folks to react to their loved one’s choice to get an abortion.
When Marina confided in Nadia that she was pregnant and thinking about an abortion, Nadia, to Marina’s surprise, was very supportive. Although Nadia does not agree with Marina’s decision and even mentions that she thinks abortion is murder, she knows that she cannot convince Marina. So, instead, Nadia gives Marina the number to a safe clinic and offers to hold her hand through it all.
Truly amazing. This is a lesson that I wish anti-abortionists would learn: you cannot stop women from getting abortions. So the best you can do is make sure they have access to a safe clinic. Everyone, take note.
5. Guzman Choosing Not to Take Advantage of Nadia in the Pool
After Nadia actually drinks some punch with drugs in it, she convinces Guzman to take her back to his house. She hops in the pool and starts flirting with Guzman. Guzman is pretty much a douchebag on the outside with a secret sweetness on the inside. He easily could have taken advantage of Nadia. He could have said she was “asking for it,” that she “wanted it.” But he knew better. He knew she wasn’t in her right mind to consent. And he quickly got out of the pool and asked her to leave.
4. Omar and Ander’s Hookup Scene
The show did not hold back when it came to Omar and Ander’s sex scene and I. Was. Loving. It! Not only because it was hot but also because it’s so rare to see two men truly embracing like that.
On cable TV, we can barely get two men to peck — you can probably count the number of times Cam and Mitchell have briefly kissed on Modern Family in 10 seasons. On streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, they’ve certainly stepped things up with makeup sessions on Jessica Jones, OITNB, and more. But most of those scenes are between women and not particularly sensual.
But Ander and Omar’s scene together was romantic and loving. They gave the couple everything they deserved and it was unbelievably satisfying as a viewer.
3. Samuel’s Reaction to Losing His Virginity
When Samuel is getting ready to have sex with Marina for the first time, he admits to his brother that he is pretty nervous. Because, yes, boys can be nervous too!
So often TV and movies make it seem to all men are eager to lose their virginity as soon as possible. But that doesn’t mean they can’t feel nervous, conflicted, or a million different emotions too. They’re only human!
2. Marina’s Story as a Young Woman with HIV
Wow, I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a TV show where one of the main characters was HIV+, let alone a wealthy, hetero, light-skinned teen.
So often HIV is associated with the LGBTQ community and the lower class. But the truth is that anyone can get HIV. You don’t have to be gay or poor or a person of color. Yes, the majority of those with HIV are people of color and LGBTQ, but it would be a myth to think that that’s the only group affected.
It was also incredibly telling how, as a wealthy young woman, Marina really didn’t have to worry about her illness day-to-day. Yes, she was scared of telling people because of the stigma it would face. And she certainly had to come to terms with the illness, as did her family. But she had enough money to get the best care and treatment. Her HIV was barely detectable and she could go on having sex with whomever she liked. You can bet this is not the same for many lower class individuals. But as we all know, it pays to have privilege.
1. The Juxtaposition of Ander and Omar’s Coming Out Stories
By the end of the season, both Ander’s and Omar’s parents have discovered their sons are gay.
Ander’s mother catches the two kissing at her house. And although she is initially surprised, she is extremely supportive of Ander. She lovingly reminds him that she is there for him. It’s a very stereotypical coming out story for someone who comes from the middle class, white, liberal parents. Obviously, this is a sweeping generalizing, but for many people like Ander, coming out (even when it’s not your choice) isn’t nearly as catastrophic as it is for others.
And that brings us to Omar, who has the opposite story. Omar comes from conservative, Muslim parents, who are presumably of a lower class. His father feels ashamed of his son and tries to arrange a heterosexual marriage for him immediately. He becomes angry and violent at the mere suggestion that his son could be gay.
Although both experiences are extreme stereotypes, it really exemplifies how the intersection of race, socioeconomic status, and religion can affect your story as an LGBTQ youth. Well done, Elite.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.