Romantic Comedies and the “women” who populate them…

29 Sep

This week’s New Yorker contains an awesome piece by Mindy Kaling called “Flick Chicks: a Guide to Women in the Movies.”

Because the romantic comedy remains the genre of choice for Kaling, she decided to produce a list of the prevailing archetypes:

1) The Klutz;

2) The Ethereal Weirdo;

3) The Woman Obsessed with her Career and No Fun;

4) The 42-year-old Mother of a 30-year-old Male Lead;

5) The Sassy Best Friend;

6) The Skinny Beautiful Woman who is Gluttonous and Disgusting;

7) The Woman who Works in an Art Gallery.

These types are pretty god-damned specific, but in my opinion they are extraordinarily spot-on. Her self-deprecation, sense of humour, and incisive critical abilities make me pine for a day when Mindy Kaling might write, star, and direct her own romantic comedy! And! Maybe it will be one where the female friends aren’t all super-skinny (except for the super fat one), they aren’t consumed with finding a man, and the final cut isn’t dependent on Judd Apatow.

Inspired, I decided to make my own list of archetypes; these types are not types per se, but actual Hollywood leading ladies, those who conform so much to type that citing their name and a brief description immediately evokes a back catalog of their films.

1) The Jennifer Aniston:

A rueful independent career woman loves her life–don’t get her wrong–but something is missing…a penis! Try as hard or as little as she can (she does run her own flower shop, design firm, catering company), the guys are all cads: they just don’t get her. But she keeps her chin up, her smile wan, and her hair fabulously layered…and she always gets her man!

2) The Jennifer Garner:

The girl that everybody loves…wait! she lives next door! Garner is appealing, and her slow-to-discover beauty emerges easily enough that the desperate loneliness that 30-something women face in romantic comedies (and real life!) almost feels funny! Given that she lives next door, sometimes it takes awhile for the man she loves to realize that his neighbor can be his lover, but it’s all in the journey, right?!

3) The Sarah Jessica Parker:

When SJP burst into fame with the ultimate serialized rom-com Sex and the City, her city-girl lonely artiste was sweet enough that its impossibilities remained irrelevant. Increasingly however, her roles appear smug, elitist and downright repellent. I Don’t Know How She Does It?!

She doesn’t.

4) The Leslie Mann:

Take a skinny body, a famous director-husband, and a willingness to play the shrewish girlfriend, wife, sidekick whenever asked, and you’ve got Leslie Mann! She’ll do anything: vomit all over Steve Carrell, ridicule the poor innocent Seth Rogan while emasculating Paul Rudd, and poop on a toilet!

5) The Cameron Diaz:

You’ll never hear much about her acting chops, but Diaz has the fortitude to possess many of Kaling’s archetypes in her film repertoire, she’s even played the klutz, the ethereal weirdo, and the skinny, beautiful woman who is gluttonous and disgusting all at the same time!

6) The Drew Barrymore:

The adorable, silly underdog that just happens to be so damned cute that you willfully forget her tendency to play the same character (the adorable, silly underdog) in every single movie since Poison Ivy.

7) The Reese Witherspoon:

Given her tendency to detour outside of the romantic-comedy–hence doing more than showing off that smiley blondeness of hers–it’s almost easy to forget her rom-com side. Reese is the girl that, outstanding perkiness aside, is actually smart, maternal, and that girl-next-door the main dude’s been wanting all along, only blonde. Not only that, but she’s super ambitious, loves chihuahuas, wears ugly Christmas sweaters, and sometimes comes back from the dead to repossess that swanky San Francisco apartment of hers.


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