Alison Bechdel’s beloved weekly comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, has been adapted into a series of audio plays on Audible with an all-star cast including Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia), Roberta Colindrez (A League of Their Own) and Roxane Gay (New York Times-bestselling author of Bad Feminist), with narration by Jane Lynch (Glee).
Set in the 1980s (the original strip ran from 1983-2008), DTWOF is a soap opera about the lives of a group of lesbians, Mo, Lois, Toni, Clarice, and friends who are trying to live ethically, defy the patriarchy, and get laid. The domestic dramas are heightened by the political climate, as they try to balance their heads and hearts (and other body parts) into a complete life.
This adaptation by playwright and television writer Madeleine George (Only Murders in the Building) sticks closely to the source material and has the charm of an old radio serial, with Lynch’s narration bridging the gaps and giving voice to the comic captions along the way. There’s a wonderful specificity to the period setting without it ever feeling forced and the self-described “dyke drama” makes for a lot of knowing laughs. This is first-rate queer observational comedy and commentary all in one.
Lead character Mo (Brownstein) is verbose and neurotic, trying her best to live up to the politically left ideals she believes in. Unemployed, she finds the only thing she is qualified to do is work in a queer bookstore, as her life of education and activism hasn’t left her many skills that appeal to mainstream recruiters. Her best friend Lois (Colindrez) is her polar opposite; a voracious flirt with a lust for life.
The comic strip nature of the vignettes keeps things tight. These are mini-episodes of the characters’ lives and make for very easy, delightful listening (I listened to all of them in one plane ride). It’s like overhearing a group of friends dining at the next table talking a bit too loudly about their lives, and you can’t help but listen in.
Audible has made some big steps into the queer world recently, with an adaptation of Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance and now DTWOF. It’s clear someone in the organization is championing LGBTQ+ stories, so Snap up Dykes to Watch Out For (and The Inheritance while you’re there), and help secure future volumes of queer stories for our aural pleasure.
By Chad Armstrong
Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For is available now, only on Audible.
Read our film review of No Straight Lines – The Rise of Queer Comics and our exclusive interview with its director Vivian Kleiman.