First in my new She’s All That series is one of my dreamiest real-life friends. In fact, it would be true to say that Ms Lightle was my first real friend in Canada and one does not quickly forget that. United by our mutual love movies, amongst other things, Meghan and I used to work together then go and see as many films as we could get away with in one sitting. One Summer that’s all we did because we do what we want (and fuck the outdoors, apparently).
Meghan is a constant inspiration what with her strong writing, sharp mind and unlimited bravery. I want to be more like her when I grow up. For more from Meghan, go visit The Lightle Side of Life (for all sorts of life gems) and That’s Lightletainment! (for more entertainment based subject matter) and for now, enjoy this post. ❤
There’s something alluring about a mess, isn’t there? I mean, it’s overwhelming and sometimes you wish it would just go away, but isn’t there also some part of you that believes if you have enough time and the right tools, you’ll be able to square it all away and won’t that just be an amazing accomplishment? This is a metaphor for my life. I’m a mess. My house is a mess. My love life, such as it is, is a mess. I thought by the time I hit 30 I’d have it all sorted and be living in a clean and spacious apartment and hosting dinner parties on the weekends and curling up with my lover and our puppy at night.
So.. not quite.
But maybe that’s okay. And you know how I know? Because I’m not the only one still sorting herself out. And I know this because every once in a while someone creates a character, a grown woman, who doesn’t completely have her shit together and honestly if it’s good enough for them, what am I complaining about?
I’m speaking, of course, about the female anti-heroes.
Of course there’s already been a lot of inked spilled about your Cersei Lannisters, your Lisbeth Salanders (although I believe she’s pure hero) and your various Catwomen, but since I skew more comedy as a rule, I’ve decided to explore the female anti-hero through a different lens. One that makes me laugh.
In the beginning, there is the protagonist of Bad Teacher, Elizabeth Halsey, played with delightfully evil glee by Cameron Diaz. From the second she pulls the croutons out of her friend’s salad, uninvited, I was like YASS QUEEN this is my kind of woman. She picks the lettuce off her burgers and eats corn dogs for dinner. She smokes weed and drinks constantly. She couldn’t remember her fiance’s birthday. She’s selfish, cruel, manipulative, and conniving. Her only goal in life is to get a rich husband. To land one, she needs breast implants which she plans to pay for by stealing and cheating her way to the top. Does this sound like the kind of person you want to have over for Christmas dinner? No, of course not, but that doesn’t stop one of her student’s mothers from doing that exact same thing, which only leads to her making fun of said student’s sweatshirt. A gem, if ever there was one. Honestly, this movie made me a life-long fan of Ms. Diaz. I found her so enjoyable to watch and root for, I didn’t even care what a terrible person she was. That’s the kind of female anti-hero I’m after.
Still somewhat in the vicinity of “evil doer” we have Mavis Gary, played by Charlize Theron in Young Adult. Mavis eats about as well as Elizabeth and I have to admit I felt a kinship with her when in her first scene she’s seen drinking Diet Coke straight out of the bottle while standing in the fridge. Take out the diet part and that’s me.
Mavis’ plan is even more simple. She’s going to save her high school boyfriend from his wife and new baby by blowing back into town and seducing him away with all the trappings of her (somewhat exaggerated) success. She is missing deadlines at her job and pulling out her own hair but all she needs is another chance with the one that got away. Instead she spends a few days getting to know the biggest loser from her high school. She teases him, drinks his limited edition “Star Wars” whiskey, and uses him to validate herself, all while being blissfully unaware of how her actions might be affecting people. I love this film because even in the end, nothing has convinced Mavis she’s doing anything wrong. She just packs up and goes home. Just like in life.
Moving on to something even more depressing, we have Maggie Dean, one of the titular Skeleton Twins, played by Kristin Wiig. Wiig has a couple good anti-heros under her belt, if you include Bridesmaids (I do) but I especially want to talk about The Skeleton Twins because of how infidelity is portrayed in the film. Maggie has been cheating on her husband for a while when we meet her. She’s feeling lost and angry and instead of, idk, talking about her feelings, she’s pushing him away. It would have been really easy to make her husband an asshole (looking at you, This is Where I Leave You) so we would immediately sympathize with her actions, but no, Lance (Luke Wilson) is the sweetest, most laid-back, accommodating, and noblest husband that’s ever been cheated on. There’s no question that Maggie has some fucked up views on love and marriage left over from a traumatizing childhood and fraught relationship with her mother and brother. I really understood Maggie and I loved seeing the representation of an extremely broken woman up on screen.
Bridesmaids was great for a myriad of reasons, the least of which was introducing the world to the comedy of the great Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy is a comic genius, an amazing actor and performer, and a plus size, big boned, voluptuous, fat woman. I adore her. As far as I am concerned, she has never made a bad movie. Her characters are fully realized, distinct, and compelling. Naturally I feel that Spy is her best work to date, but if we’re talking anti-heros, there ain’t no one greater than Shannon Mullins from The Heat.
Mullins should have lost her badge YEARS ago. She is unprofessional, rude, insubordinate, and terrorizes both her fellow officers and the suspects she brings in for questioning. However, she’s also a damn good cop and just as her male counterparts have known for years, you can get away with anything if you have the skills to back it up. She eats the same cheese sandwich for three days and has turned her fridge into an armoury. Her family is mad at her for doing her job but she won’t admit how much that hurts her. She is prideful and stubborn. She has no time for a serious relationship and has to constantly turn down former lovers who desperately want to be with her. She’s fiercely independent, a true lone wolf, and until she met FBI Agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) she hadn’t a friend in the world. Not much changes by the end of the movie.
So if you’re a little crazy and jealous or boisterous and difficult, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Representation matters and there’s no shortage of flawed yet sympathetic women out there to relate to.