“Fire Island,” the new Hulu rom-com starring and written by Joel Kim Booster, takes the story of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and maps it onto a group of friends spending a week of vacation on Fire Island, New York’s exclusive gay destination. Booster said he was inspired to write the movie when he read the book during a vacation and realized Austen’s social dynamics mapped neatly onto the often confusing, overwhelming, and hilarious social scene he found himself in on Fire Island.
Booster plays Noah, our Elizabeth Bennet stand-in. Bowen Yang’s Howie is Jane, Matt Roger’s bubbly Luke is Lydia, Tomás Matos’s Keegan is Kitty, and Torian Miller’s bookworm Max is Mary. Margaret Cho’s Erin is both Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Conrad Ricamora’s Will is our sullen, slightly anti-social Darcy and James Scully as Charlie, the sweet but not so smart doctor, is Bingley. The villainous Wickham turns into Zen Phillips’s Dex, and Nick Adams’s Cooper represents Bingley’s rude sister, Caroline. The plot of “Fire Island” actually follows Austen’s story pretty closely.
There are some specific “Pride and Prejudice” and Austen moments that “Fire Island” smartly adapts. Let’s break down the connections:
Elizabeth and Darcy’s Dance
In “Fire Island,” Noah and Will can’t seem to connect until they end up dancing together at the Underwear Party. Noah finds himself enjoying dancing with Will way more than he expected to, and he starts to wonder if there is a romantic connection between them after all. But any chance for exploration is broken by the hijinks of his friends. In “Pride and Prejudice,” Elizabeth and Darcy share a similar moment and dance at the Netherfield ball, which is ultimately broken up by her family’s out of control behavior.
Elizabeth and Darcy’s Fight in the Rain
Noah’s friends flee the Underwear Party as things fall apart, and Noah and Will set out to try to find them. But they get caught in the rain and end up fighting — which almost leads to a kiss. It doesn’t quite play out the same way that Darcy and Elizabeth’s rain-soaked confrontation in “Pride and Prejudice” (2005) does, but the vibe is very similar.
Will writes Noah a letter apologizing for his behavior and explaining his dislike of Dex, a plot point taken right from the pages of “Pride and Prejudice.” One major difference, though, is that while Darcy goes into details about what Wickham did to his sister, Will doesn’t give a full account of Dex’s transgressions, saying it’s not his story to tell.
Wickham and Lydia
In “Pride and Prejudice,” after Elizabeth is warned of Wickham’s attempts to elope with Darcy’s younger sister, she keeps the story to herself. It comes back to haunt her when Wickham runs off with her own sister. Darcy ends up paying off Wickham so he’ll marry Lydia, saving the rest of the Bennets.
In “Fire Island,” Luke and Dex hook up, and Luka is thrilled. That is, until he finds out Dex secretly taped their encounter and posted it on OnlyFans. Noah and Will — who happens to be a lawyer — intimidate Dex until he deletes the video. It’s a clever, modern twist on Austen’s plot, with a much better ending for Luke.
The “Clueless” Reference
When the group is getting ready for the Underwear Party, Howie says, “Way harsh, Tai.” That’s a reference to “Clueless,” the iconic 1995 coming-of-age film. And “Clueless” itself is an adaptation of Austen’s “Emma.” We love the levels at work.