Time travel. Body swapping. A murder mystery. 90s kitsch. Coming of Age? Yes, The Seven Lives of Lea has it all, and I will say right up front I loved this show and recommend it. Now, if I’m writing about it here, you know it involves gender swaps, so let me get right to the swaps.
Lea, a sad and directionless teen in 2021, finds herself jumping back in time and occupying the bodies of her parents and their associates back in 1991. Several times, she jumps into male bodies, and the show does not avoid exploring this teen girl’s curiosity over the male sexual experience. As in many modern coming of age stories, Lea’s sexual explorations are part of her growth and an over-arching theme for her as she emerges from inhibited and risk-averse to a girl willing to take chances and hazard new experiences.
There are also some other nods to gender relations, as she tries to navigate male friendship in the 80s and at one point, in a guy’s body, is appalled by his friends and their toxic masculinity. One extremely appreciated choice all the male actors made when they were Lea was that none of them went camp and did the exaggerated overly feminine acts so often in these kinds of movies. Lea, herself, was not a super feminine girly girl, and they each convincingly portrayed her in their bodies, with the actress who played Lea sometimes providing commentary and occasional visual reminders that they were “actually” a girl.
Overall, this is a first-rate production with gorgeous, romantic settings, a killer soundtrack and moving and powerful performances by the young cast. I did watch it with English overdubs, which were good, but even without their own voices, I found myself struck by the passion in the actor’s eyes and facial expressions.
The script is a lot of fun, with plenty of “I can’t believe these are my parents” moments, a la Back to The Future (if a little more kinky) and, without giving it away, the ending is a tear-jerker with Lea facing one of the most dramatic conflicts I can remember seeing.