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Just how gay is new Star Wars series ‘The Acolyte’?

Under the guidance of Disney, the world of Star Wars just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

The latest chapter is the franchise is The Acolyte, a new series that’s set earlier in the story’s timeline than any of the previous instalments.

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Some fans have not taken to the new series, following comments from showrunner Leslye Headland that described in as the gayest take on Star Wars to date.

So, is it any good? Just how gay is it? And do we need yet another Star Wars series?

George Lucas introduced the world the Star Wars universe set a long time ago in a galaxy far away in 1977. An instant phenomenon he expanded it into a trilogy of films with The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983.

Lucas later added a prequel trilogy with The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005).

After selling his company to Disney they expanded the world further with three films set after the original trilogy The Force Awakens (2015), The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

Disney’s also made some films set in between the first and second trilogy with Rogue One (2016) showing the lead events leading up to Lucas’s original film, and Solo (2018) providing the backstory of one of the franchises most popular characters Han Solo.

Along the way a stack of animated series has introduced other storylines and characters set in between the live action films, and in 2019 Disney began making live action series too.

So far there’s been three series of The Mandalorian, and one series each of The Book of Boba Fett, Obi Wan Kenobi, Andor and Ahsoka. Each filling in a different part of the gaps in the existing epic story.

A distinct difference with the work as it progresses is improvements in its representation of race, gender and sexuality.

Back in the 1980’s MAD magazine spoofed a scene in Return of the Jedi where Luke Skywalker worked out that Princess Leia was actually his long-lost twin sister – the joke being that she was pretty much the only girl in the movies.

With each instalment there’s been more women, more people of colour, and finally people who are something other than heterosexual.

Following on from last year’s Ahsoka where the title character was played by Rosario Dawson, The Acolyte also has a female protagonist in Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg.

Spoilers Ahead

Amandla Stenberg as Osha Aniseya in The Acolyte

Set 100 years before any of the previous parts of the story, Stenberg plays Osha, a young woman who trained to be a Jedi Knight before moving on to a career as a technician on star ships.

When Jedi Knights begin being killed by a mysterious warrior who uses the power of the force, suspicion falls to Osha. It reunites her with her former master Sol, former colleague Yord Fandar and she meets new trainee Jecki Lon.

They soon discover the perpetrator of the crimes is Osha’s long lost twin sister Mae. Which begins an adventure to track down the long-presumed-dead sibling, the shadowy master she works for, and work out why she’s targeting Jedi she came into contact with in her childhood.

Ahead of the series making its debut showrunner Leslye Headland made a joke during a promotional interview suggesting this would be the ‘gayest’ instalment of Star Wars yet. Alongside Stenberg she also joked that R2D2 and C3PO, the iconic robots from Lucas’s original films, were probably gay too.

Charlie Barrett plays Yord Fandar in The Acolyte.

One thing that does set The Acolyte apart from other tales in the franchise is it has quite a few recognisable actors. Alongside Stenberg, Yord Fandar is played by Charlie Barnett from Russian Doll and Chicago Fire. Sol is portrayed by Lee Jung-jae who found fame in South Korean series Squid Game.

Carrie Ann moss appears as Indara.

Lesbian crush Carrie Ann Moss, famous for playing Trinity in The Matrix films is in the cast, as is Dean-Charles Chapman from Game of Thrones, and Manny Jacinto who played Jason in The Good Place is there too.

Manny Jacinto is Qimir in The Acolyte.

Many of the cast and creative team are members of the LGBTIQA+ communities including showrunner Headland, Stenberg and Barrett. Actor Rebecca Henderson, who is married to Headland, also appears in the series.

Early on in the show we learn that Osha was raised by two moms, and in flashback scenes we’re introduced to the community of witches that she was raised. Are they all lesbian witches? It’s open to interpretation.

There’s also been a scene where there’s some flirtation between Osha and trainee Jedi Jecki Lon, played by Dafne Keen.

Dafne Keen plays Jecki Lon a trainee Jedi

To date four episodes of the eight-episode series are available via Disney+, with a new episode being released each Wednesday.

One thing’s for sure. It’s returning some balance to the force in terms of representation.

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