The acclaimed Seattle filmmaker, Stranger Genius, and all-around beloved person Lynn Shelton died at 54 on Saturday, May 16, but her inspiring and often highly personal body of work lives on. Whether you're a longtime fan or you're new to her work, we've rounded up some of the films and TV shows she's written and/or directed with links to where to stream them online, along with some of the original reviews we ran when they came out (where possible), plus some reading material from The Stranger's archives and other resources worth your time.


Loosely based on the real-life TV show Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, which aired from 1986 to 1990, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch’s fictionalized Netflix series GLOW exhumes the dusty spandex, mile-high hairdos, and Bon Jovi anthems for campy and contemplative fun. Set in mid-1980s Los Angeles, GLOW tells the story of 12 struggling actors who are chosen to star in an all-female wrestling show. But first, they must learn how to wrestle! Marc Maron plays the series’ cynical writer/director Sam Sylvia, who reluctantly participates in the project between snorts of coke. His leading Gorgeous Ladies are the volcanic protagonist Debbie, aka “Liberty Bell” (Betty Gilpin), and Ruth, aka “Zoya the Destroyer” (Alison Brie), who once wronged Debbie outside of the ring and is now trying to accept her position as the league’s heel. Though GLOW often centers on this rivalry, it’s driven by the other wrestlers’ internal conflicts. In one key scene the show’s young producer, Bash (Chris Lowell)—who’s got the oily charm of Rob Lowe’s character in Wayne’s World—insists that “wrestling is about type. You’re a sexy party girl, you’re an Arab,” gesticulating at Arthie, aka “the Terrorist” (Sunita Mani). She immediately corrects him: “You mean stereotype.” CIARA DOLAN
Lynn Shelton directed five episodes throughout the series, including "The Liberal Chokehold" in season one and "Viking Funeral" in season two.
Available via Netflix

Humpday (2009)
Filmed in Seattle, Humpday follows a pair of thirtysomething, straight male friends who reunite after years of careening down opposite life trajectories (one is stuck in his party days, one is married and trying to have a baby). Fueled by their competitive spirits, they decide to challenge each other to have sex on camera (or to "outdo each other by doing each other," as Shelton put it) and submit the footage to The Stranger's own amateur-porn competition, HUMP! (which led to this fun little exchange). It's a hoot, and it won the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award.
Available via multiple platforms

Laggies (2014)
Shelton once said she would never put the Space Needle in one of her movies, and it has taken until 2014 for her to cave. The Space Needle is in this movie. So is I-90. So is Ballard. So is Dick’s. So is the Central District. So is Orcas Island. The city looks wet and rich and calm, and the whole thing was shot on location in Washington State, which is an accomplishment in itself, given the economics of shooting movies here as compared to, say, Vancouver, BC. Shelton is a master of the minor chord, the story that comes from some subtle place inside a character and ends not far from where it starts. In Laggies, the character at the center is just about the most minor-chord person Shelton has ever put on the screen, Megan (Keira Knightley), who feels like she’s floating through life, unable to connect with her own story, or family, or friends, or her lover, or anything. She has a job jumping up and down on a street corner holding a sign that says “Tax Advice.” She senses that there’s something not right about her friends, but she has no idea what it is. They’re just kind of… irritating. Or wrong. Or always mad at her. Or something. One of the friends is played by Ellie Kemper, who’s hilarious. The Kemper character, Allison, is getting married, and there’s a comic scene right up front where Megan and Allison and two other friends are having a bachelorette party, and there are so many things about that scene, and the uptightness of the friend group, and the enforced “fun” of bachelorette parties, that are so very funny and so very Seattle that I keep thinking about them and cracking up. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
Available via Netflix and other platforms

Little Fires Everywhere (2020)
Hulu's latest big, buzzy, original drama is this adaptation of Celeste Ng's best-selling book. Reviews have knocked the adaptation for essentially removing all nuance from Ng's novel, and it's hard to disagree that the story is a lot louder than it was on the page; Ng's novel is set in the mid-'90s, but never quite channeled it. This show doesn't feel like the book... but the sour, entitled, pretty-on-the-outside-but-mean-as-fuck-for-no-good-reason vibe it absolutely nails from its first 15 minutes on? That's some genuinely authentic '90s nastiness; the kind of sunshine-covered bitterness these characters would snidely razz as they watched their umpteenth hour of Ricki Lake from the comfort of their couch. The miniseries is now available in full for on-demand consumption, and the approach taken with the source material (an approach Ng herself applauded) makes a lot more sense when the reworked story is taken as a whole. BOBBY ROBERTS
Available via Hulu

My Effortless Brilliance (2008)
Mumblecore cries out in the wilderness in this personality-rich, bare-bones ultra-indie, which follows a flabby, narcissistic middle-tier young novelist (ex-Stranger scribe Sean Nelson) as he haplessly seeks to reconnect with a wary and embittered college friend (Basil Harris) in and around a cabin in the forests of Eastern Washington. Any pro-am awkwardness is wittily absorbed by the scenario, but while the performances are all savvy and convincing, Shelton (who splits screenplay credit with her improving cast) steers entirely clear of drama. Think of it as Old Joy without the seasoning. MICHAEL ATKINSON
Available via IFC Films and other platforms

Outside In (2018)
I was pleasantly surprised by Lynn Shelton’s latest, Outside In, filmed in suburban Granite Falls and Snohomish County, captured in all their rainy, tree-sheltered, moss-flecked glory. The subject matter is more urgent than Shelton’s usual fare: Outside In focuses on a subtext-heavy friendship between a high-school teacher, Carol (Edie Falco), and Chris (Jay Duplass), the 38-year-old former student she helped parole from the Walla Walla State Penitentiary after a 20-year sentence. As Chris, Duplass does some remarkable work with only his eyes and smile, under a beard so patchy, its mere existence triggers inscrutable sadness. Falco is great, per usual, as a conflicted, tightly wound woman in an Edith Wharton-grade bad marriage. And Outside In isn’t actually that far from a Wharton novel: It’s a completely believable web of conflicting desires among people who lack the language and wherewithal to ask for what they want. But stick with it, and Outside In’s relentless sadness gives way to something more gently hopeful than its numb beginning implies. MEGAN BURBANK
Available via Netflix and other platforms

Sword of Trust (2019)
Lynn Shelton is the first local filmmaker to open the Seattle International Film Festival twice. Her last film to kick off SIFF was Your Sister’s Sister, back in 2012. Her latest, Sword of Trust, starring Marc Maron (whom Shelton has directed on the Netflix show Glow), is her first set outside Washington State. She shot it in Birmingham, Alabama, in a mere two weeks. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
Available via multiple platforms

Touchy Feely (2013)
A frequent criticism of mumblecore films is that nothing really happens in them, which has always struck me as a weak line of reasoning. Life doesn't have a plot (spoiler!), and it's still pretty interesting most of the time. But Lynn Shelton's new film, Touchy Feely, tweaks the formula a bit: Nothing really happens, except for a few things that are really goddamn weird. Paul (Josh Pais) and his daughter Jenny (Ellen Page) are a morose family unit living in Seattle—just a quiet dentist and his quiet kid who quietly work together at Paul's dental practice. Wacky, free-spirited aunt Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a massage therapist who believes in elixirs and energy work. Her outlook stands in clear contrast to that of her science-minded brother, who spends his days diligently scrubbing the teeth of his elderly patients. Meanwhile, shy Jenny is in love with her aunt's boyfriend, a grubby bike-messenger type (Scoot McNairy, who's perfectly cast as the kind of guy who's irresistible to a young woman and slightly questionable to an older one). Director Shelton has a knack for coaxing natural, lived-in performances from her actors, so it's no surprise that the performances here are top-notch. The characters are great, and their interactions feel authentic and well-observed, but certain plot elements—a dentist with magic powers that heal TMJ?—are just so weird that it's hard to reconcile them with the natural, unfussy filmmaking that is Shelton's strength. ALISON HALLETT
Available via multiple platforms

We Go Way Back (2006)
Winner of best narrative feature and best cinematography at Slamdance, We Go Way Back is the tender story of a fringe-theater actress in Ballard who is knocked off her twentysomething rails by simple little letters she wrote to her older self at the age of 13. Amber Hubert is properly vague in the lead role, R. Hamilton Wright scores bountiful zingers as a capricious theater director, and Basil Harris is perfect in the small role of an empathetic friend. A must if you've ever attended Seattle theater, and a sweet, subtle choice for everyone else. ANNIE WAGNER
Shelton was scheduled to join the Northwest Film Forum for a virtual chat alongside a screening of the film on Northwest Film Forum's Facebook page this week. In her memory, you can still watch the film there on Thursday, May 21.
Available via Northwest Film Forum on May 21 and other platforms

Your Sister's Sister (2012)
Your Sister's Sister opens in a living room crowded with people gathered to remember a dead friend. Photos are passed, glasses are clinked, eyes glisten with tears. Since this is the work of Lynn Shelton, the Seattle filmmaker with a gift for capturing the telling minutiae of everyday life and assembling it into a story, this living room feels like somewhere you've been, or might go tomorrow. (You've sat on the floor next to just such a radiator, rested your back against just such a sofa.) The plot kicks in with a toast given by a memorial attendee played by writer/storyteller Mike Birbiglia, who stands to share a tale illustrating the uniquely good heart of the friend who was lost. This toast is promptly shot down by the dead friend's brother (Mark Duplass), who holds forth, with dickish insistence, on the self-serving motives of good-hearted people and the treachery of reminiscence. His buzz-killing transgression inspires a loving response from his dead brother's ex-girlfriend (Emily Blunt), who offers up her family's cabin in the San Juan Islands as a much-needed retreat for her stunted-by- sadness almost-brother-in-law. Duplass's character—Jack is his name—takes her up on the offer, and after a gorgeously gray ferry ride, he finds himself at a supposedly empty cabin that is not empty. Unbeknownst to Blunt's character—Iris is her name—the cabin is occupied by her half-sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who, after some explanation from the bumbling Jack, accepts this impromptu visitor into the cabin. Thus commences Your Sister's Sister's uniquely complicated love triangle, which is explored with great charm and clarity for the duration of the film. It's a small, beautifully acted film that touches on a number of deep issues (grief, family, forgiveness) without succumbing to cliché. Go see it. DAVID SCHMADER
Available via IFC Films and other platforms


WTF with Marc Maron: Remembering Lynn Shelton
Shelton spent the last year of her life in L.A. with the podcast host and comic Marc Maron, who, in this episode of WTF released on May 18, replays the 2015 interview in which they first met. They talk about her upbringing in Seattle, her path to filmmaking, and the existential truths behind dentistry.

Virtual Silent Reading Party
The May 20 edition of The Stranger's virtual Silent Reading Party will be dedicated to Shelton. Accompanist Paul Matthew Moore will be playing songs from the Your Sister's Sister soundtrack, as well as some of Shelton's favorite pop tunes.


Lynn Shelton, the Brightest Talent in the Seattle Filmmaking Universe, Has Died at 54
(Christopher Frizzelle, 2020)

Lynn Shelton's Seemingly Effortless Brilliance
(Christopher Frizzelle, 2020)

A Message to the City from Lynn Shelton

Lynn Shelton Talks About Conspiracy Theories, Marc Maron, and a Mind-Blowing Lyft Ride
(Christopher Frizzelle, 2019)

Seattle Director Lynn Shelton Talks About Her New Film, Outside In
(Jake Uitti, 2018)

The Sundance Kids
(Brendan Kiley, Charles Mudede, and Lindy West, 2009)

Film in Washington Is NOT a Lost Cause
(Lynn Shelton and Megan Griffiths, 2015)