The red-band trailer for Bridesmaids
Mindy Kaling, who writes for and plays Kelly Kapoor on The Office, in this week’s New Yorker lays out her love of romantic comedies by way of “the female archetypes”:
I like watching people fall in love onscreen so much that I can suspend my disbelief in the contrived situations that occur only in the heightened world of romantic comedies. I have come to enjoy the moment when the male lead, say, slips and falls right on top of the expensive wedding cake. I actually feel robbed when the female lead’s dress doesn’t get torn open at a baseball game while the JumboTron camera is on her. I regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world operates according to different rules than my regular human world. For me, there is no difference between Ripley from “Alien” and any Katherine Heigl character. They are equally implausible. They’re all participating in a similar level of fakey razzle-dazzle, and I enjoy every second of it.
It makes sense, then, that in the romantic-comedy world there are many specimens of women who—like Vulcans or Mothra—do not exist in real life.
The types Kaling goes on to describe in detail are:
“The Klutz” (“The hundred-per-cent-perfect-looking female is perfect in every way except that she constantly bonks her head on things”)
“The Ethereal Weirdo” (also known as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl: “She is essential to the male fantasy that even if a guy is boring he deserves a woman who will find him fascinating and perk up his dreary life by forcing him to go skinny-dipping in a stranger’s pool.”).
“The Woman Who Is Obsessed with Her Career and Is No Fun at All” (“Often, a script calls for this uptight career woman to ‘relearn’ how to seduce a man, and she has to do all sorts of crazy degrading crap, like eat a hot dog in a sexy way or something.”).
“The Forty-two-Year-Old Mother of the Thirty-Year-Old Male Lead” (“If you think about the backstory of a typical mother character in a romantic comedy, you realize this: when “Mom” was an adolescent, the very week she started to menstruate she was impregnated with a baby who would grow up to be the movie’s likable brown-haired leading man.”).
“The Sassy Best Friend” (“You know that really hilarious and horny best friend who is always asking about your relationship and has nothing really going on in her own life? She always wants to meet you in coffee shops or wants to go to Bloomingdale’s to sample perfumes? She runs a chic dildo store in the West Village? Nope? O.K., that’s this person.”).
“The Skinny Woman Who Is Beautiful and Toned but Also Gluttonous and Disgusting” (“If you look closely, you can see this woman’s ribs through the dress she’s wearing—that’s how skinny she is, this cheesecake-loving cow.”).
“The Woman Who Works in an Art Gallery” (“The Gallery Worker character is the rare female movie archetype that has a male counterpart. Whenever you meet a handsome, charming, successful man in a romantic comedy, the heroine’s friend always says the same thing: ‘He’s really successful. He’s”—say it with me—“an architect!’”).
Read the entire thing here.