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"The Skeleton Twins": The "Gay Brother" Trope Gets the SNL Treatment 

Tuesday, Sep 9 2014
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"Hanging a lampshade" is a trope in which a character points out that what's happening in the story is implausible and/or a cliché, and Craig Johnson's dramedy The Skeleton Twins wastes no time in lampshading the fact that the movie-opening suicide attempt of Milo (Bill Hader) is a gay cliché. It's far from the only gay cliché throughout The Skeleton Twins, though in fairness, the first American film to deal openly with homosexuality (1970's The Boys in the Band) also lampshaded its clichés, so it's a long-standing tradition. In The Skeleton Twins, title characters Milo and his sister Maggie (Kristen Wiig) were inseparable as kids — we get a few too many flashbacks to Maggie dressing Milo up as a girl, because gay! — and after a 10-year estrangement as adults, they're reunited by Milo's suicide attempt. Maggie herself is also suicidal, feeling trapped in her marriage to Lance (Luke Wilson), who's a nice guy but also deeply stupid. (In a refreshing twist, macho outdoorsman Lance is thoroughly unthreatened by Milo's homosexuality.) The Skeleton Twins' real strength is the chemistry between Wiig and Hader, longtime Saturday Night Live cast mates who can be very funny together, but also display the necessary chops for the occasionally heavy drama. They even make the obligatory lip-syncing scene seem fresh.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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