McCarthy Makes “Chick Flicks” About More Than Just Romance

Ahh the chick flick. Once ruled by the likes of Julia Roberts, Nora Ephron, and Nicholas Sparks, the genre typically consists of films centered on one woman finding romance, either through comedy or heartache, and sometimes both.

But that doesn’t cover the whole story. Over the years women have made it clear that we like more than just romance and abs in our chosen viewings (although abs are always a plus). Films like Mean Girls and The Devil Wears Prada illustrate that women also appreciate films that examine the relationships between women. Sex and the City had friend groups all over the country labeling each other as Miranda or Carrie while Orange is the New Black gave us an addicting, diverse all-female cast to binge watch.

Basically, female-driven comedies outside of romance are not a new, breakthrough genre. But nowadays that genre also includes the slapstick female-led comedy, pioneered by Bridesmaids and continued, most noticeably by Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy.

Five years post-Bridesmaids, Universal’s The Boss feels a bit rote. McCarthy is back as another over-the-top character, this time as an incredibly successful business mogul with cutthroat ambition. Decked out in perfectly coiffed wigs and ridiculous turtlenecks, it’s clear McCarthy likes to go all out when getting into a character.

Looking back, most of McCarthy’s recent films have focused on friendships and families – relationships just as important to women as sexual partners, but ones often less recognized in Hollywood. In Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig’s Annie feels like she is losing her best friend Lillian, not to her fiancée but to Lillian’s new friend Helen. The Heat has McCarthy’s Mullins teaching Sandra Bullock’s Ashburn that friendship and a support system are important resources for a police officer. 2015’s Spy has Susan Cooper learning to stop listening to her haters and listen to herself while The Boss shows Kristen Bell’s Claire and her daughter Rachel teach Michelle that having a family, whether adopted or biological, is an important part of leading a fulfilling life. Even though all of these comedies are full of ridiculous slapstick humor (and bear the R-rated badge with pride), the message behind them is genuine – friends outside of sexual relationships are important.

I can’t say whether McCarthy is intentionally bringing forth films and characters that focus outside the immediate arc of romantic love. (Though is should be noted that her husband wrote and directed this one, so I would like to think yes.) But as a woman who’s seen enough Nicholas Sparks films for a lifetime, it’s nice to see that someone out there is at least attempting to satiate the diverse audience that is women. Now, if only others would follow her lead.


About Katie Anaya

Katie Anaya

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