Rebecca Breeds as Clarice Starling.
Source: CBS

Is Clarice Starling of 'Clarice' and 'The Silence of the Lambs' a Lesbian? Let's Investigate

By

Jun. 3 2021, Published 6:17 p.m. ET

Fans of the horror flick The Silence of the Lambs have loved the CBS television show Clarice, featuring Rebecca Breeds as a young Clarice Starling. The show follows Clarice making her way up through the FBI ranks a year after her experience with the terrifying Hannibal Lecter. So far, the show's fate has been up in the air, and viewers are curious about the protagonist's sexuality. Is Clarice a lesbian? Here's everything we know about the heroine's sexuality.

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Rebecca Breeds as Clarice Starling on 'Clarice.'
Source: CBS

Many assume that Clarice is a lesbian because of the first actress to play her, Jodie Foster.

There have been many opinion pieces, academic papers, and Reddit threads dedicated to unraveling Clarice Starling's sexuality. In The Silence of the Lambs, Clarice is the unwilling subject of male attention, with characters of the opposite sex often making unwanted passes at her.

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Rebecca Breeds as Clarice Starling on 'Clarice.'
Source: CBS

One Reddit user points out that they suspected Clarice wasn't straight because she seemed to prefer the company of the other female character. Their interactions are filmed the same way as the men who hit on Clarice, but instead of being uncomfortable, she's able to complete her mission. 

Jodie Foster, who played the character in the original The Silence of the Lambs film, is a lesbian, which the user suggests factored into Clarice's portrayal even if she wasn't publicly out at the time.

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Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling in 'The Silence of the Lambs.'
Source: Orion Pictures

In the CBS spinoff show Clarice, the titular character deals with severe trauma following her experience with Dr. Hannibal Lecter the year prior and has been trying to track down serial killer Buffalo Bill. The network's description of Clarice insisted they wanted the show to take a deep dive not only into her trauma but into the character's "personal story," so the opportunity to explore more of Clarice's personal life is still on the table.

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Until then, Clarice hasn't given many hints as to Clarice Starling's sexuality. In the spinoff novel Hannibal, Clarice and Hannibal are living together in a mansion by the end of the story, with him successfully brainwashing her into being with him. However, CBS does not have the right to portray Hannibal onscreen, shutting down the potential of that happening.

Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling in 'The Silence of the Lambs.'
Source: Orion Pictures
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'Clarice' cast a transgender activist to right missteps of the original film.

LGBTQ groups have criticized the original The Silence of the Lambs film for their mishandling of serial killer Buffalo Bill's identity, which puts transgender people in a negative light. NBC News reported that actress Jen Richards was cast as a trans character who, as Jen said, "was part of the story but didn’t reduce [her role] to a stereotype."

Rebecca Breeds as Clarice Starling on 'Clarice.'
Source: CBS
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Jen explained that Buffalo Bill's portrayal in the original film is harmful because he was "[an] incredibly monstrous person who literally steals the female form and tries to embody it. It was really complicated to try and overcome that first perception of other people."

Thankfully, co-creator and executive producer Alex Kurtzman was determined that "the idea to explore the damage done by Buffalo Bill was not just on his direct victims, but also the trans people in that world, as the media told his story through the narrow lens of the time," as NBC wrote.

Actress Jen Richards on 'Clarice.'
Source: CBS

While Clarice might not have revealed her sexuality just yet, it's great to know that Clarice's co-creator is looking to correct missteps that have been harmful to the LGBTQ community with new characters and updated storylines.

Clarice airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. E.T. on CBS.

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