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Crip theory informs Samantha Lee’s queer rom-com series, Sleep With Me, on CBC Gem

Sleep With Me
DJ Harry (Janine Gutierrez) strikes up a romance with a writer named Luna (Lovi Poe) in Sleep With Me. Photo courtesy of CBC Gem.

An Asian TV miniseries involving two women in love is coming to Canada. Sleep With Me revolves around a wheelchair-using radio DJ and a writer with a sleep condition. CBC Gem will stream all episodes, which were made in the Philippines, starting on March 27.

The miniseries stars Janine Gutierrez as DJ Harry and Lovi Poe as the writer Luna. Manila filmmaker Samantha Lee wrote and directed the show, which won the Audience Award for Best Episodic at L.A. Outfest.

Lee has gained international acclaim for promoting better representation for the LGBTQ+ community in her three feature films: Baka Bukas, Billie & Emma, and Rookie. In a YouTube interview with NewFestNYC queer film fest programmer Mara Tatevosian, Lee revealed that Sleep With Me originated from a bad case of jet lag. It came after she had flown to Los Angeles to promote Billie & Emma during the pandemic. Poe’s character has trouble sleeping, which is related to a rare sleep condition.

Lee mentioned to Tatevosian that Sleep With Me is actually informed by “crip theory”. This term was popularized in Robert McRuer’s 2007 book, Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. According to the publisher, NYU Press, Crip Theory is the first book to thoroughly analyze how disability studies and queer theory inform one another.

Moreover, NYU Press noted that both disciplines are “centrally concerned with how bodies, pleasures, and identities are represented as ‘normal’ or as abject”.

Lee has thought a lot about intersectionality between the LGBTQ+ and the PWD [persons with disabilities] communities. And she realized that in the Philippines, both communities experience a lack of representation, rights, and accessible social structures.

“I was like, ‘How do I pack all of this into, like, a fun, lighthearted rom-com?’ ” Lee told Tatevosian.

Watch Samantha Lee’s interview at NewFestNYC.

Sleep With Me reflects Lee’s desire to mirror society

Lee won the Best Film Award and Audience Award at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival for her 2023 film, Rookie. It’s another LGBTQ+ romance, this time about an awkward teenage volleyball player falling in love with the team captain.

“Cinema acts as a mirror to society,” Lee told Cinegirl in 2020. “It has the power to say what is acceptable, what is right, how we should behave, who we are allowed to love. Seeing two women kiss on a forty-foot screen, without being punished or tortured for that fact, that’s something that I never had growing up, which is why I fight so hard to have those images up there.”

Watch a trailer for Samantha Lee’s miniseries Sleep With Me.

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Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.