On April 22, we returned to the offices of The Oppenheim Group when Netflix dropped season five of Selling Sunset. In the show’s tenure, the drama has always felt manufactured, but between the 20-million dollar real estate and the Hunger Games-esque wardrobes, manufactured is the show’s very essence. And while this season brought the property porn and over-the-top outfits we’ve come to expect, it failed to deliver compelling story arcs. Because even though the cast of realtors continues to grow, the entire show is carried on the teetering shoulders of one Christine Quinn.
Since season one, Christine went full method as the baddie. Unlike the rest of the cast, she had no qualms about her role as villain—and between her antics and outfits, she often put Cruella de Vil to shame. But the fundamental flaw of Selling Sunset is the majority of the cast is blind to their own bland personalities.
This season, Chrishell literally started secretly dating the boss and seemingly hard launched her relationship on-camera. But the milquetoast repartee of the cast made this top-tier reality TV setup fall flat. How easy would it be for Mary to have misgivings about her ex-boyfriend dating her best friend? Or for the office to question if it’s ethical for one of their own to date the boss? The drama-making opportunities were ripe for the taking! But the women of the cast apparently made a pledge of sisterhood, supporting everything the others did—everyone except Christine. But undying sisterhood does not make good television. Even Troop Beverly Hills and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants had some in-fighting. Mary-Kate and Ashley didn’t travel the world without some inter-twin conflict.
Season five of Selling Sunset could be summed up as The People vs. Christine Quinn. In seasons past, Christine’s role as the singular villain worked because she always had people in her corner. As a storied member of The Oppenheim Group, her history with Mary gave us something to watch as Mary waffled allegiances, but now they’ve fully severed ties. Last season, Christine fell out with her longtime allies Heather and Maya. And now, even her sidekick Davina switched teams in an effort to get a storyline that wasn’t about failing to sell a $75 million dollar house. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out for her.
The cast never missed an opportunity to discuss Christine. She was quite literally their only topic of conversation. And while producers attempted to get ahead of the one dimensionality of the drama by adding Chelsea Lazkani to the mix, bulking up team Christine, the rest of the cast missed their cue to spice things up.
Even when the producers created opportunities for the women to repair their relationships with Christine—setting up one-on-ones with Amanza, Heather, and even Mary—none of the women took the bait and instead chose to continue feuding with her. It seems the women want Christine out of their office and off the show, but they don’t realize this will be their downfall.
Before the season premiered, Christine tweeted: “30 minutes till the launch of #SellingSunset enjoy the new season and all of its 5,000 fake storylines!” The figure in her tweet likely in reference to the $5,000 Emma claimed Christine was offering to pay her clients to switch agents. Whether that storyline is fake or not, Emma missed the point. Christine didn’t need more drama centered around her, the rest of the cast needed to create conflict of their own.
This is the first time Selling Sunset filmed a reunion, dropping May 7 on Netflix. Reunions cap off a reality TV season, closing the door on feuds and resetting allegiances to shake things up for the coming year. Queer Eye’s Tan France will host. As a gray-haired gay man he is Netflix’s answer to Andy Cohen, but can he take the mantle to drive the drama and resolutions necessary for a successful reunion? To top it off, Christine did not attend the reunion because she said she tested positive for Covid—nor did she attend virtually because she wasn’t feeling up to it. Chrishell and Mary implied Christine lied to skip the reunion and photos show Christine on-set filming a commercial three days after the reunion taped, so that may be true. But either way, what Mary and Chrishell don’t see is it’s truly their loss. A reunion without the villain will likely give us nothing.
Last week, Christine announced she left The Oppenheim Group to launch her own venture with her husband: RealOpen, a platform to buy and sell real estate using crypto. (Villians love crypto.) It’s unclear if her new job will impact her return to season six of Selling Sunset, but the rest of the cast better hope it doesn’t—because without Christine there is no show. The reality is, the women need to step up their game and learn to make their own drama rather than living off the work of Christine Quinn, or the future does not bode well for their reality TV careers.
Image: Courtesy of Netflix
Bridgerton boys are back, alright, and, obviously, prepare for spoilers. Season 1 came at exactly the right moment, when we were in the throes of our first pandemic winter, desperate for love and attention. Season 2 arrived in the springtime of our discontent, and we ate it up without pausing to savor or question its quality. Even though we enjoyed some of the same familiar gimmicks this season, we were promised a whole new spin on both the Regency genre and Bridgerton itself and, while it started strong, the storytelling got lazy midway.
Bridgerton season 1 took the ton by storm because of the central toxic Regency couple that we couldn’t help but root for. We couldn’t wait for season 2 and then had to wait and wait and wait for the core couple to consummate. While the new season has been much maligned and also praised for its slow burn, season 2, while popular, is lacking not because of the dearth of sex scenes, but in the exact ways season 1 succeeded. Simply put, season 2 reuses old tricks but with less success.
If you were to ask Netflix, season 2 worked quite well, breaking viewing records. Viewers liked it too, of course. Plot-wise, it played off the classic romance trope of “enemies to lovers,” and included the always fun illicit love mixed with stubborn rich people. It ends happily. There are some butts.
The main storyline nodded to Hamilton’s Schyler sisters who will never be satisfied and very much played into our nostalgia for Regency cranky boys by dunking the white-shirted viscount in a lake à la Colin Firth in the Pride and Prejudice mini-series.
The plot most closely follows Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew—or 10 Things I Hate About You, if you prefer—in that there is a mean older sister as the smart but headstrong lead (named Kate in all iterations) who is softened by love, and a pure younger sister, gate kept by the elder, who is the object of mens’ desires. There is much fire imagery and wild, long hair blowing in the breeze from atop a horse. Good stuff, if a little on the nose for fans of Regency romance.
Jonathan Bailey as Anthony carried the team well and Simone Ashley as Kate was as worthy a sparring partner as her shrewish Shakespearean namesake. People watched it immediately, quickly, and repeatedly. So why wasn’t season 2 as well done?
My opinion? The good people at Bridgerton manipulated us gentle viewers and our need for anticipation and payoff and went too far into the land of cringe. The couple in season 1 married and therefore had significant amounts of sex by midseason, breaking the tension and allowing for a third act conflict and resolution. This season, all we had was anticipation. Season 2 took advantage of season 1’s success and reused tricks both from original Recency plots where marriage is the goal and, more egregiously, from season 1’s uniqueness.
Here’s the moment they used us: in season 2 episode 5, after assuring us over and over and over and over that he is a gentleman and therefore would never act on his longings, Anthony says to Kate, “Do you even know all the ways a lady can be seduced? The things I could teach you.” She says, breathily, “I did not ask for this.” Executed differently, this scene could be played as much more predatory. And here’s the rub.
Season 1, episode 5 is the wedding and episode 6 begins sexapalooza. Season 2 draws out the foreplay another two whole episodes. But that’s not the actual problem. The problem is that the conflict and resolution of season 1 banks on Daphne being innocent to the ways of sexytimes. Her character transformation goes from too pure to too powerful (let’s not let her off the hook for that rape scene) and then onto an equal footing with her husband. It is satisfying as sex with the duke.
Conversely, Anthony and Kate’s love is based on the fact that Anthony, to his dismay and later delight, sees Kate as an equal. They are well-matched in competitiveness, sense of duty, and hotness. When he informs her of all the ways he can make her give it up, he shifts the power dynamic right back into that of season 1, which does a disservice to our “they’re a love match because they’re alike” plot.
The next two episodes are a tortuous display of lust, not love. There’s sniffing, stares, and it’s implied the viscount walks around in the company of his mother and seven younger siblings with a constant semi. It’s not sexy to have a secret desire that your mom knows about.
The season redeems itself a bit at the end with some high quality “acty shit,” as my college acting professor calls it, from Bailey as he ushers his Anthony into a man capable of love. When the couple finally get fully naked in the penultimate scene, Kate bones her husband repeatedly, telling him with tongue and butt cheek that she’s doing it because she’s “dutiful.”
Taming of the Shrew is considered a “problem play” by modern standards because of the ending: once headstrong Kate gives a speech about why women should always obey their husbands. This doesn’t play for comedy nowadays. 10 Things improved upon the ending, but still, the shrew is tamed and the woman becomes a dutiful partner. Season 2 wants to play with this idea and whiffs it midway only to pretend in the end they had a strong female protagonist all along.
Bridgerton has wonderful moments of love and lust and has our number in a way no other show ever has. We will, in fact, keep coming back for more. Next time, however, when Benedict takes the spotlight and we’re hopefully (please oh please) not still in a pandemic panic, we may not be as forgiving if the show toys with us. Dear reader, I, for one, hope the team at Netflix heeds this warning and are up for the challenge.
Image: Courtesy of Netflix
When Bridgerton premiered back in December 2020, most of us were expecting another failed Pride and Prejudice replica. I mean come on, it was a Regency-era show about a (probably too young) girl looking for love and finding it in all the wrong places. Still, at that point (over 10 months into the pandemic), we were so tired of being stuck in our GD homes we would have watched sourdough rise for fun (oh wait, we did lol). Luckily for us, however, Bridgerton proved to be anything but a revamped Jane Austen. Sure, the show had romance and accents and corseted dresses that make the waist trainers of today look amateur. But more than that, it had sex. So. Much. Sex.
And it wasn’t just like, the couple kissed and fell on the bed and a shirt came off and then it cut to the next scene. We’re talking kiss, shirt off, nipples out. Oral sex! Vaginal sex! Sex on stairs and sex in chairs! Bridgerton season 1 was basically one giant romp-fest, which was great. After a year of isolation and a history of sex scenes that weren’t exactly written for the female gaze, Bridgerton gave us horny bitches the #content we deserved.
Then, of course, Netflix dropped Bridgerton season 2. And it’s not that season 2 of Bridgerton was bad or anything. It still had costumes and accents and torrid love stories. But the one thing it was clearly missing was the graphic sex we came to associate with the series. Sure, some people said they watched the show for the plot, but the thing is, they’re liars. We watch Bridgerton for the sex, dammit, and season 2 was like one very long, very cold shower.
But don’t worry. If you were burning for an erotic season 2, you’re not alone. And the good news is there are still ways you can get off to the much more watered-down season. No, it’s not as good as watching Simon (Regé-Jean Page) eat Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) out on a ladder, but if you’re trying to get off to the next installment, these eight options will keep you from having a fully orgasm-less season.
1. Watch All the Lingering Gazes on a Loop
Since most of Bridgerton season 2 is fingertip grazes and lingering glances, you might as well use the sexual tension to your advantage. In episodes 3, 4, and 5, it’s all “I hate you, but I clearly have the hots for you” spars between Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley), and in episode 6 they finally (FINALLY) have a fiery kiss.
Granted, it’s just basically seven whole episodes of will-they-won’t-they-but-we-know-they-will-so-just-f*cking-do-it-already scenes, but maybe think of it as foreplay? It’s a recipe for a pretty much full blue ball (or blue clitoris if you will) watch, but as long as you drown all the repetitive dialogue and“we can’ts” out with your loudest vibrator, it’ll get the job done.
2. Watch Episode 7, Then Watch it Again
After an entire season of *almost* sex, Anthony and Kate finally do it in the only real sex scene of season 2 during the second to last episode. Unlike the first season of Bridgerton where pretty much every other scene included a graphic hookup set to quartet renditions of Taylor Swift, season 2 is more like every other show where you sit around for a while before you get to the real masturbatory material. Episode 7 is that material.
The ego-crossed lovers finally get their freak on in a gazebo-type structure. Even though it’s totally unrealistic (who gets completely naked when having sex outside? At your family’s house? And then FALLS ASLEEP?! This isn’t camping, folks!), it’s still hot in a “this would never happen” kind of way. There’s undressing and moaning and some clear cunnilingus for the only time in the season, so grab your toys and get at it. Repeated viewing suggested.
3. Search Thirst Traps of the Cast Instead of Paying Attention to Episodes 1-6
Since this season lacks the sexual allure of the past, you’re already on your phone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still lean into the Bridgerton vibe. Since pretty much everyone in the show is a millennial, that means the Bridgerton cast posts thirst traps for validation just like the rest of us. Reap the benefits of their shirtless pics, beach photos, and overtly sexual selfies.
No, it’s not the same as like, seeing their characters strip down and bang it out in a canopy bed, but the writers of the show didn’t confer with me when creating the script, so we gotta do what we gotta do. And what we gotta do is follow the cast and add all of their vacation pictures to the “💦” folder on our phones.
4. Write/Read Some Fan Fiction
Nope, fanfic isn’t just reserved for vampires and Harry Styles! There’s fanfiction of literally everything out there, including Bridgerton. Since the characters’ very slow burn isn’t exactly cutting it for you or your libido, take matters into your own hands—or er, keyboard. Maybe Kate, Anthony, and Siena (Anthony’s ex from season 1) have an epic threesome full of untied corsets and verbal jabs. Or perhaps the Viscount and Ms. Sharma turn up their obviously flirty attacks by indulging in a little BDSM. Come on—Kate as a dominatrix is content you’d be viscerally obligated to watch.
So go on, write your own sex scenes since Netflix decided to hang us out to dry. And if your creative juices—much like your vaginal ones—aren’t quite flowing, there’s plenty of Bridgerton fanfic already written out there that you can read instead. Why do the work when someone else already did it for you, ya feel?
5. Listen To The Season 2 Soundtrack While Watching Season 1 On Mute
Watching season 2 of Bridgerton was good for two things: Fans of the book who were eager for a sexless, slow season, and string renditions of throwback hits and modern jams. While season 2 clearly lacks that in-your-face-sex almost all of us tuned in to see, what it does have is a solid soundtrack. We’re talking Nirvana, Madonna, Rihanna, and Miley—just to name a few. Since season 2’s music was better than season 1’s offerings (just barely though), why not combine the two for a viewing worthy of your attention?
So, go on. Blast the season 2 soundtrack while watching the entire first season on mute. You already know the premise of the story, and seeing Simon and Daphne hook up on their honeymoon to “Wrecking Ball” is better than anything you’ll see in the newest installment of the show. Bible.
6. Name Your Vibrator After Your Fave Character
If you’re bummed that your favorite character didn’t get laid enough in Season 2, whip out your favorite sex toy and give it a rebrand. Try taping a picture of your Bridgerton crush (*cough* Siena *cough*) on the buzzy part of your vibrator and imagine them as season 2 plays in the background. If you squint at the screen, you’ll still get the costumes and the wigs, but this way you can sort of pretend something exciting is happening, it’s just simply too fuzzy to make out.
If you find yourself wanting to scream in either ecstasy over the vibrations or in anger over the fact that there’s only one sex scene to enjoy, simply shove a spoon in your mouth! It’s hot, it’s a fun season 1 throwback, and it’ll keep your roommates/partner/parents from hearing you and encouraging you to up your therapy frequency for taking your Bridgerton season 2 disappointment a little too far.
7. Shoot Your Shot Via DM
Hear me out: Stranger things have happened! Celebs get together with common folk all the time because hi, we’re cool and chill and aren’t going to hook up with our movie co-stars when we jet off to a tropical location for work. Since season 2 didn’t provide you with the sexual material you deserve, make it happen for yourself IRL.
While the chances of any Bridgerton stars responding to (or reading) your thirsty DMs are pretty much zero, you might as well try. At worst, you’ll end up with a restraining order. But this way you’ll probably get their autograph (people sign restraining orders, right?), and they’ll know how pissed you were about the lack of sexy season 2 content. And at best, you’ll get laid by a Bridgerton cast member who didn’t take their shirt off nearly enough. Honestly, there are no downsides.
8. Write a Strongly Worded Letter to Netflix
Ah, complaining. Few things give us as much of a rush as chewing someone TF out for something minor, like having a different creative vision for a show. But since the writers of Bridgerton decided to take the vibe of season 2 in a totally different direction, why not write them a little something of your own? Round up all the receipts of the cast members saying there’d be plenty of sex in season 2, get 200 of your closest Facebook friends—including your eclectic aunt Shirley—to sign it, and demand Shondaland reinstate the old Bridgerton vibe for season 3.
Yes, it’s pervy and pointless. But that pretty much describes all of our hobbies anyway. It might not change the fact that you wasted eight hours of your life for a few minutes of season 2 sex, but one voice can make a difference. One voice can ensure season 3 involves a little more butt action and a little less back-and-forth banter. A hero? No, you’re just out here being the Lady Whistledown of our generation and for that, we thank you.
Images: Liam Daniel / Netflix
Well, well, well, look who it is. It’s me. And Vanessa Hudgens. Playing 3 different versions of Vanessa Hudgens. Yes, people, that’s right. I am back with the recap nobody (except literally my one friend) asked for. At this point, I consider my annual (or however often these movies come out) Princess Switch recap a rite of passage. I will warn you in advance, buckle up for this one. This movie was an aggressive hour and 45 minutes. And also, it’s been so long since Princess Switch 2 that I *may* have forgotten some of the details. We don’t know what we’re in for with this one, but it will be over-the-top and Vanessa’s accents will be bad. I will say, if they add a fourth Vanessa Hudgens to this movie, I swear. I can only suspend my disbelief so much, ya know?
We open with a quick recap (thank god) and a note that Fiona, after impersonating the Duchess and trying to throw the whole country of Montenaro into disarray, only got sentenced to community service, not prison. I’m sure that’s something that won’t come back to haunt the country, right? (Things we say about January 6th.)
This year, Stacey is co-chairing an International Christmas Festival with Margaret. I gotta say, there’s no way that would fly in 2021. A holiday festival, at least?? In any case, the Vatican has loaned them the “Star of Peace”, “a priceless relic that once belonged to St. Nicholas himself,” which is going on top of the big Christmas tree. Surely, there’s no way this star is valuable, and also no way Fiona would find herself at this festival and try to steal the star, right? RIGHT??
Kevin and Margaret are a happy couple once again, although noticeably absent? Kevin’s daughter. They FaceTime her, and is it just me or did this girl age 10 years between movies? I could have sworn she was like, in middle school.
What’s funny to me is that while Stacey and Margaret are planning the acts for the International Christmas Festival (we have to have a yodeler because they “don’t want to offend the Swiss ambassador”), Margaret remarks, “we don’t want to offend anyone.” Oh, is that why you’re having an INTERNATIONAL CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL in the year 2021? Good luck with that!
But the planning is interrupted when we learn there’s “a bit of a situation” involving the police.
That “situation”? You guessed it. The Star of Peace is gone — the guards were drugged and the Star stolen.
Margaret: Just please promise us you’ll get it back in time for the ceremony.
Chief of Police: I’m afraid that would be a pie crust promise — easily made, easily broken.
Oh, god. So this is the type of dialogue we’re working with. Who on EARTH has ever called something a “pie crust promise”? Also aren’t pie crusts kind of hard to make by hand? All I know is you have to smash a lot of graham crackers and mix it with a looot of butter, or literally make a dough from scratch. This isn’t Great British Bake-Off. Easily made for whomst??
Stacey’s boyf (I am really sorry, I forgot his name. Prince Phillip? That feels right) is like, “no pressure, but when the crown jewels of Belgravia were stolen, my father was nearly deposed. Don’t stress Margaret out! She’s already dealing with enough, thinking police are effective, even when they have clues or leads (of which they currently have none). The thieves apparently managed to smash a whole glass case and not leave ANY forensics, which seems…. literally impossible.
Stacey is like, “you know what this means, right? If the police have no leads, that means it’s up to us to come up with some.”
Stacey: What we need is someone with information the police don’t have
…Right. You should go right to Quantico with those amazing detective skills of yours.
So they’re going to enlist Fiona’s help them solve this crime. They’re going to bust her out of the convent at which she’s currently serving community service. Man, the Montenaro justice department is weird.
Lol this bitch is working in a convent with a full sequined hat on, red lipstick, and sky-high heels. Why would you want to mop floors in that? Just who, exactly, is she trying to impress??? Gotta stunt on those nuns, I guess.
Fiona arrives to the palace with her squad in what I can only describe as one of those headbands with antennae attached to it that you’d use for your 2nd grade Bug’s Life costume. What was the style direction on this girl? All sequined everything, and the more deranged the headpiece, the better.
I have to believe that Vanessa’s stylist is still trolling her for those early comments she made about covid. Ugh, Fiona’s still calling her cousins “cuzzy”. Here’s how this should be handled:
The next morning as Fiona updates the Good Guys on her progress, she’s in this like, brocade minidress. She’s really busting out the Fashion Pass first thing in the a.m. Honestly, respect. There’s a brief, bad joke where Prince Philip misunderstands what “the GOAT” means (he thinks they’re talking about a literal animal), that could have really been left behind in 2019. I’m starting to see why this movie is just shy of two hours. We’re 12 minutes in, and I’m on my second page of notes.
So Princess Fiona gets driven to this castle, where she meets some guy who’s like a cross between a mad scientist and Troy Bolton (because he has a basketball court inside his castle, obviously). His name, which I will forget imminently, is Peter Maxwell. He’s managed to dig up the Interpol case file and finds that the drug used to knock out the guards was purchased at some crack pharmacist’s in Geneva. Our wannabe Penelope Garcia over here manages to track down the pharmacy’s CCTV footage to locate an image of our suspect, who just so happens to work for a billionaire hotel tycoon. Why did a billionaire steal the Star of Christmas? Because he likes collecting shit.
I’m just spitballing here, but wouldn’t it not be in your best interest as a hotel tycoon to steal shit for a hobby? Cause, ya know, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of the perks of being a hotel tycoon from behind bars?
They can’t go to the police because “Hunter has friends everywhere”. The only thing they can do? You guessed it, obviously: steal it back by infiltrating his big party. What kind of Ocean’s Eleven knock-off is this? Everyone notices the chemistry between Peter and Fiona, because they are about as subtle as a whack on the head.
Stacey: That bad boy had a thing for you, huh?
Fiona: We had a bit of a steamy. But he’s not my type.
A. Bit. Of. A. Steamy???? Please somebody find me the screenwriter for this movie. I just want to talk.
Anyway, some important context about Peter: he was accused of diamond theft when working at Interpol, but those charges were dismissed. He’s doing this consulting work for free.
Peter: Let’s just say, I have my reasons
*30 second back-and-forth of Peter and Fiona looking at each other*
Good god, could these filmmakers be any LESS subtle?? Me and my intelligence are insulted.
Anyway, Fiona’s trying to set a honeytrap by running into Hunter while he’s walking his dog, dressed up like a bootleg Cruella DeVille. Unfortunately, the dog chases after a squirrel, pulling Fiona into a bush. Well, that didn’t work. Time for Plan B, which I guess is just showing up at some party he’s at.
I will say, this party looks lit. I will also say, the cronies sitting on couches reading newspapers and wearing Bluetooth earpieces DURING A PARTY is not at all subtle. I mean. THAT’s your cover? Being the guy reading at a party?
Hunter spots Fiona and she’s like, “what are you doing here?” Uh, aren’t you at his house? Hunter is smarter than he looks, because he’s like “ok, what’s the real reason you’re here?” Fiona makes up some lie—is it a lie?—about having spent almost all of her inheritance and wanting to turn the Pembroke estate into a hotel. She secures an invite for the party.
I also have to say that I have like an hour left of this movie and I’m already sick of Vanessa Hudgens’ approximation of a classy British accent. It sounds like how the Watch What Crappens guys do impressions of Karen Huger. Real ones know. I actually might put a candy cane through my eyeballs before this is over. It’s only funny when Ronnie and Ben do it.
Oh so now we’re flashing back to Fiona’s childhood, where her mom can’t be bothered to spend the holidays with her? I’m sorry, is this a villain origin story movie or the fucking Princess Switch?? I don’t want my impeccably dressed yet supremely annoying villain to have any depth, what do you think this is??
Also, idk, “I tried to take over a country because Mummy didn’t pay me enough attention as a kid” is not really the justification Fiona thinks it is.
So back to Baby Fiona, who is like, moping to Baby Peter about how her mom doesn’t love her because she didn’t want to spend Christmas together. Peter is like, “look outside, that’s the North Star. No matter what happens just look up there and I’ll be looking there too.” Does my memory deceive me or did they just rip this out of Love Actually or something? I also definitely got the will-they-won’t-they-they-definitely-will plotline without this extended walk down memory lane. See: the 30-second back-and-forth of them staring into each other’s eyes.
And now we have a scene where these idiots are practicing for their Ocean’s Eleven heist with some fake lasers that they have to limbo through. Fiona is like “watch and learn” and then just proceeds to do a sexy yoga flow through the lasers? Lmao, going to try that at my next heist. Who knew the secret was Downward Dog into Pigeon pose?
Peter is fully turned on, though. This man would not be able to handle a Y7 class.
That night, Peter and Fiona set off into a helicopter while Margaret watches from a window like, “Wow they really are just adorable, aren’t they” Margaret, need I remind you that this girl tried to kidnap you and STEAL your COUNTRY??? And you’re just happy for her that she’s finding love??
Fiona and Peter go to some Christmas market, where Fiona has this zinger that she definitely didn’t plan for hours: “Looks like Santa’s elves smoked a little too much mistletoe.” If someone said that to me IRL I would immediately cut them out of my life. Peter asks Fiona for a dance and her response is, “You’re just determined to smother us in holiday cheese, aren’t you?” Ma’am, the only abundance of cheese is spewing straight out of YOUR mouth. Good god, who wrote this dialogue?
In another montage that could have been left on the cutting room floor because I don’t have all day, Fiona and Peter dance in the middle of this Christmas market’s ice skating rink to a country song. And they’re about to kiss when she wipes out out of nowhere, and instead of being like, “ouch!” they both laugh hysterically, splayed out on the ice. Sure.
Meanwhile, I don’t like this foreshadowing I feel is happening with Kevin, where he kisses Margaret goodbye before he drives off, promising he’ll be back soon. He will be back soon, though? Right?? Nothing bad is going to happen to Zaddy Kevin, on Christmas no less, RIGHT???
Okay, now HERE is how the switch will happen: Reggie was supposed to be in Ocean’s Eleven but got hurt while trying to repel down a building. Classic Reggie. The only person skilled enough to replace him is (remember the yoga moves)? Fiona. Only problem? She’s supposed to be distracting Hunter at his party. So Margaret will pretend to be Fiona and take the role of distracting Hunter at the party.
Prince Philip (I still haven’t learned his name and at this point, I don’t think I will) is vehemently against the plan and Stacy and Margaret are for it. What ensues next is a bootleg Princess Diaries montage where Fiona tries to teach Margaret how to walk and act like her.
Fiona and Margaret practice tango-ing and Peter walks in and is like, “hold on, the frame is all wrong,” so he cuts in and starts dancing with Fiona. My dude, she is not the one who needs the frame reference. Margaret does. Stop seducing and start helping!
Well, Fiona and Peter get into a fight because, as Peter puts it: “Whenever you start to feel something for someone, you pull away.” Oh blah blah, poor little evil rich girl is too scared to form genuine connections because her mom bailed on Christmas. Play me a sad song on the world’s smallest violin. I’m sorry, if Fiona is the future of this Princess Switch franchise, I will simply not abide! Absent parents or not, are we supposed to care about someone who just so thoroughly sucks? I’m really not even talking about the greed and identity theft, it’s literally everything else about her (except her fashion sense, which is pretty dope).
Andddd we have a problem: Princess Fiona’s disciplinary review at the monastery (things that totally happen) is randomly pushed up to tonight. Fiona HAS to be there. But she also has to be with Hunter. And navigating the laser field. Good thing we have another spare Fiona!
Okay so looks like I was wrong and his name is Edward. Whoops! No, I will not be using find + replace to fix any of this.
In any case, our shitty Charlie’s Angels over here have managed to break into the control room and have located the Star of Peace. (I do realize I called it the Star of Christmas elsewhere… again, go with it.) I wonder why they don’t just turn off the lasers if they’re already in this room that has all these servers? Too much logic for this movie, I guess.
Once inside the library, we run into a snafu: the keypad that was supposed to be there isn’t there, and Hunter is about to come into the library! But he’s too busy berating some champagne girl dressed as a slutty Marie Antoinette to notice. What is the theme of this party?
They find the keypad, because otherwise the movie would end right here. Which it honestly could, this thing is an hour and 45 minutes. But anyway, over in the monastery, Stacy is not killing it as Fiona. Her accent is just… not good. Prince Edward decides to act as her character witness.
He’s like, “she did kidnap my wife but she has a really good heart” — spoken like every defense for a rich white defendant.
Back at the heist, what do you know, the code to the keypad is Fiona’s birthday.
Time for the laser minefield! The moment we’ve been training for, and the Christmas Star or whatever tf we’re calling it is smack dab in the middle of all the lasers.
Back at the party, Margaret is trying to hide her revulsion for Hunter with a duck face (it’s not not working) and as a diversion from having to go upstairs with him, she suggests they tango. While this happens, our two criminal lovebirds are doing a tango of their own between the lasers. And Fiona’s sentence in the monastery gets commuted. Mother Superior cannot hide her excitement. Tbh, I don’t blame her.
Real Fiona and Peter turn off the lasers and Fiona picks up the star. Just then, the alarm starts blaring. It’s all very:
After like five minutes of fucking around and eating, the security guys finally do their jobs and decide to address whatever is setting off the alarm. Hunter realizes something is amiss, and Margaret tries to distract him — with a kiss! Ooooh, you’d better hope Kev isn’t the jealous type.
In the mad dash to get out, the thieves go all “every Fiona for herself” and leave Margaret behind. No honor among thieves, amiright?
Oh, and Peter LITERALLY left his calling card at the scene of the crime. Which I guess he stayed to create a diversion? But if you’re physically there, why leave your business card? Was he using the heist as a branding opp?
They all make it back to the palace, but Fiona doesn’t have the star! Peter switched it out with a basketball at some point. Ok but how did you not notice him carrying a basketball through a heist? Was he just walking around with it under his shirt and you were like, “well, the guy does love Christmas cookies…”
Well it looks like Peter has something up his sleeve that Fiona refuses to tell the others about? She goes to meet him at her old school the next morning before fleeing to Capri with her cronies. She meets him upstairs, and how is the school chill with letting this grown-ass man just hang out there and set up a meeting? Peter’s like, “I just wanted to get your attention. I’ll give you the star, I just need you to pop over to the dining hall.”
He says, “she wants to talk to you,” so I’m guessing her mother is waiting there. And again, I wonder how the school is like, sure, go ahead use our boarding school for this forced family reunion. I guess they are rich, so that pretty much explains it.
Damn, Peter tells Fiona that this is the end of the line for them. Nah, this has to be the part in the rom-com where a simple misunderstanding almost causes the two main characters to break up forever.
Haha, I was right! It is her mom! Am I smart or is this movie extremely predictable? Don’t answer that.
Ok I am Team Fiona on this because the mom is like, “I’ve spent the last decade traveling the world but it wasn’t until I was on a retreat in an Ashram that I realized my life was empty.” This just might be the most realistic rich-people depiction we’ve gotten in this movie so far.
Oh and it’s all supposed to be ok that this lady abandoned her daughter because Fiona’s father was cruel to her? And because she kept a Christmas card Fiona drew for her as a kid, we’re supposed to forget all this abandonment? Okay, maybe that backstory did work on me, because now I’m soft. Or perhaps these filmmakers do know what they are doing? Much to think about.
Honestly, respect to Fiona for not letting her mom pull this “Oh it’s Christmas, I was a terrible mom but can’t you forgive me after I put in no work to show I’ve changed and just apologized one time?” The Ramona Singer of it all…
Oh what the hell?? Fiona walks outside but then immediately turns around and sobs into her mom’s arms. BOOOOO.
So Fiona and her mom are staying at the palace for Christmas. Fiona’s like, “is that all right?” And Margaret’s like, “All right? You’re family.” And again I say, are you part where she kidnapped you and tried to steal your royal title??? Over on r/AmITheAsshole people cut off family members for way less. I am just saying.
The Christmas Festival looks great. Hunter is arrested. Everybody’s happy, blah blah blah. And who should show up, but Peter? Of course. He and Fiona both apologize to each other. IDK why this has to take such a morbid turn: “we don’t know how much time we have left with the people we care about” seems to be the throughline. Like, is somebody gonna die?
Lol for the third time they get cock-blocked on the kiss, because as they start leaning in, the trumpets start sounding for an announcement from Margaret. I never get why people in movies can’t just kiss anyway. Like, people in New York City streets will kiss despite people screaming about the apocalypse, an ambulance driving through them, you name it.
The lights on the tree turn on, the star is a hit. Hooray! We did it!
Ok finally Fiona and Peter get to kiss. Good for them. And that’s the end. Overall, turning a Christmas movie into a bit of a heist movie was an interesting choice. Did I hate it? Jury’s still out. Will I watch another one of these? Only if Fiona isn’t set up to be the protagonist. See you next year, cuzzies!
Mark Mainz/NETFLIX © 2021 (4); Netflix; Giphy (4)
Netflix just released the third season of You, and it is raking in views with an audience of around 111 million people. Dethroning Squid Game’s long reign as number one on Netflix, You is one of the most popular shows on the app, bringing in over 40 million people since its debut in 2018. People can’t wait to tune in to Joe Goldberg’s (Penn Badgley) chaotic antics, stalking women he once met across metropolitan areas, killing anyone who gets in his way. For a long time, Joe operated alone, flying under the radar by moving from New York to L.A after killing his first girlfriend Beck. For a while, everything seemed to be working out for Joe and his new California life.
Then he met Love.
At the end of season two, audiences thought Joe had finally met his match. Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), daughter of extremely wealthy parents Dottie and Ray Quinn, is an aspiring chef working in the high-end grocery store Anavrin when she meets Joe and subsequently falls in love with him over the course of season two. Upon season three’s opening, Joe and Love are trying to make it work as newlyweds in a soulless wealthy suburb outside San Francisco. The season follows all its usual twists and turns (sex, lies and murder) in a new setting. But the plot takes on an unsettling age-old trope and centers this season on Love as a predator sexually exploiting a young man. And unfortunately, this trope is hardly rare in film and television.
I’m talking about the Mrs. Robinson stereotype.
Coined after the 1967 movie The Graduate, Mrs. Robinson has become synonymous with older women seducing younger men. Set in the late 1960s, The Graduate follows recent college alumn Benjamin Braddock sifting through the trials and tribulations of young adulthood. He is feeling aimless and scared about his future, and falls into an affair with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), an older woman stuck in a loveless marriage. Seeing as the 60s was considered to be a sexual revolution, a bored housewife gaining autonomy to pursue a younger gentleman was viewed as empowering and liberating, despite the moral ambiguity of the situation. Evolving with time, this harmful depiction of romance still has an impact today.
You’s Love is our latest example of this toxic characterization. Striking up an affair with her next-door neighbor Theo (Dylan Arnold), Love carries on a romance behind Joe’s back. After having sex with Theo, Love pulls away saying she shouldn’t see him, later going back on her word to continue the affair regardless. Love acknowledges her position of power, pointing out in one episode that she is wrong for having sex with a 19-year-old, yet she continues to abuse her power anyway, indicating to Theo that his feelings are valid only when she is manipulating them.
Knowing the relationship is wrong, Love continues to toy with Theo anyway, playing hot and cold games with a young man desperate for love. Here, the Mrs. Robinson stereotype is in play. Love provides emotional dependence for a teenager, who by the way, has just lost his stepmother, which is a dynamic she later weaponizes to fulfill her own sexual desire. What is more, Love is motivated by the suspicion that Theo’s father has video footage proving that she and Joe are complicit in the murder of said stepmother. Love is using Theo for her own self-preservation, fully aware that he is in his most vulnerable state. Unlike Theo, Love is not in the relationship for human connection at all—she’s in it to keep herself and her husband out of prison.
(No spoilers but I’ll just say the relationship doesn’t end great for Theo.)
Age is an arbitrary number and often, that is used as an excuse to take advantage of young people. Though Theo is 19, above the legal age of consent, scientifically the teenage brain does not stop maturing until age 25. Neuroscientists and psychological evidence confirms that teens can make cognitively rational choices when facing minimal pressure, but in situations like sexual encounters, teenagers cannot make decisions the same way adults can, leaving them vulnerable to dangerous situations.
The Mrs. Robinson trope has been resurfacing in television lately. Before You, there was A Teacher, the Hulu show no one could stop talking about last fall. Premiering November 2020, the show followed a predatory relationship between English teacher Claire Wilson (Kate Mara) and her 18-year-old student Eric Walker (Nick Robinson). Despite not being picked up for another season, the miniseries quickly became FX’s most watched show on Hulu. Despite the fact that the relationship is predatory (not to mention, very illegal), users on Tiktok sensationalized the affair for how “hot” it was, going as far as saying they should “change career paths” to better model Claire’s lifestyle. Of course, the show’s intention was to highlight how an event like this can take over someone’s life, but the fact some people hoped Nick and Claire end up together sheds light on how portraying toxic relationships can sometimes backfire, despite best intentions.
Nobody should be looking to You for relationship goals, but when accounts of older women abusing their power pop up consistently over time, in real life and in Hollywood, it is important to highlight why harmful relationships between older women and younger men should not be sensationalized. As a new generation grows alongside television, subjecting themselves to popular media featuring romance centered around imbalances of power, it’s important to avoid romanticizing these kinds of relationships and overlooking the toxicity and danger they pose.
Image: John P. Fleenor / Netflix
From the moment Sex/Life dropped to Netflix on June 25, horny people everywhere have been blind to the fact that it’s problematic because, you know, there’s a lot of sex in it. Pool sex! Car sex! Elevator (almost) sex! Even though you can see nipples and giant penises in every porn on the internet (seriously, what was going on with Brad’s huge d*ck in episode 3?), seeing it on Netflix is shocking, I guess?
Quick recap, in case you were too busy clicking through speeds on your vibrator to follow the “storyline”: Billie (Sarah Shahi) is married to Cooper (Mike Vogel), and the couple has two children (one of whom is a very annoying little kid who honestly needs to learn boundaries). Since having children, Cooper seems uninterested in sex, so Billie starts writing in her journal (which is just a Word doc on her unlocked computer) about her past relationship with bad boy Brad (Adam Demos).
While the plot itself is not great (so not great, in fact, that it’s actually kinda f*cked-up), there are a lot of other really strange things going on that make absolutely no sense. You might not have caught them because you were too busy orgasming on your couch, but luckily, I’m a fantastic multi-tasker. Cartoonishly big schlongs aside, here are a few Sex/Life elements I quite literally cannot wrap my head around.
1. Billie Doesn’t Use Lube
Now I’m not lube-free-sex-shaming, but the sheer lack of lube in the show is sus. I’m not even 30, and I’ve never had kids, but I basically use a whole bottle before even thinking about penetration. Blame it on hormone-zapping birth control or just plain getting older, but I’ve been on the lube train for quite a while. Maybe Billie is the wettest b*tch there ever was (which like, respect). But come on… for someone so apparently sex-positive, it just seems kinda ridic that she’s having amazing penetration after about five seconds of foreplay without a little help.
2. Billie Gets Turned On By A Random FaceTime Of Brad’s D*ck
Personally, I find few things to be less arousing than opening my phone and randomly being greeted by a surprise penis. I’d quite literally rather have a yeast infection than have to unexpectedly see a picture or video of a peen and then have to respond to whichever insecure guy thought this was a good idea. It’s exhausting to even think about. First of all, just to be the party police, unsolicited d*ck pics are considered harassment (and illegal, in some states), not to mention they’re just awkward. I’ve never seen an image of a d*ck and thought, “Wow, I really want to get me some of that.” Ever. Ever! Not even on a good day, and not even with a good d*ck.
Granted, in Billie’s situation, she accepted Brad’s FaceTime, but when he started revealing his junk, she wasn’t like, “Woah man, I’m married” or even like, “Oh my God, are we gonna get flirty?” Instead, she literally GOT TURNED ON by unexpectedly seeing her ex’s pubes on her iPhone. He’s just sitting there flashing his penis and expecting you to fawn over it? No, girl. I’m calling bullsh*t.
3. And She Watched Her Friend F*ck Brad via FaceTime
Speaking of nonconsensual sexting, how about that time Brad FaceTimed Billie and propped up the phone so she could secretly watch him and her best friend, Sasha (Margaret Odette), have sex against a doorframe? And after Billie watched and masturbated, she told Sasha, who acted like it was NBD that, not only did the guy she was hooking up with film her having sex without her knowledge, but her best friend watched it live — and jerked it — again, without her knowledge. Who are these people? Does no one have boundaries or sh*tty wifi? If I told my bestie I watched her f*ck my ex without her knowledge, I’m sure I would be the proud new recipient of a restraining order and a lawsuit, friendship aside.
4. Billie Consistently Gets Off In Missionary
The last I checked, it’s hard for most women to get off by penetration alone. In fact, only 18% find it sufficient to warrant an orgasm. It seems, however, Billie is part of that lucky group. Sure, in her defense, she credits this to Brad’s proficiency in the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT). “There are whole books written on the subject, which either Brad read or never needed to,” Billie says. “But when done right, it provides the ultimate connection, both physical and emotional. I felt closer to him than I had to anyone.”
In reality, the CAT is just a modified version of missionary where the guy is positioned higher up so the base of his penis rubs against her clitoris. But that’s not the only type of missionary sex they’re having. So, even when Brad’s not practicing the (very hard to master) technique, Billie still gets off in mere seconds from penetration? Checks out.
5. Billie’s Husband Goes On A Double Date With Brad
Going on a double date with most people is torture (the small talk, the discussion of splitting the check, the awkward seating arrangements), but going on one with your wife’s ex who she keeps fantasizing about, and her best friend who’s now f*cking said ex? In what world? It’s honestly sadistic. Out of four adults, one person would have to be like, “Yeah, this isn’t going to go well, let’s not do this” and put their foot down. But no! Everyone goes, and surprise! Things don’t go well. Honestly, I’d love to fake invite my husband to that dinner, just to see his reaction. Or maybe I wouldn’t, because that’s grounds for divorce IMO.
6. The Subway Track Scene
I don’t care how hot someone is, if they pulled me down onto a train track, as a train is coming toward me, I would 1000% be seeing their ass in court. I don’t know what for, but I would sue that MFer. What if a piece of metal was jutting out of the side? What if Billie didn’t get to the little nook in time? What if they stumbled while making out as the speeding train whizzed by? While I get there’s a level of hotness to danger, that’s reserved for like, riding a Vespa or wearing white on your period, not for nearly getting squashed by a train to make out with a guy who will literally have sex with you anytime, anywhere.
7. Billie And Cooper Didn’t Discuss Rules Before Going To The Sex Club
At first, it seemed like their friends sprung the whole sex party thing on Billie and Cooper, but during a later fight, it’s brought up that they both agreed to go. What it doesn’t sound like, however, is that they had any sort of conversation before stepping into the new situation. 101 for that kind of thing is talking before attending. It’s obvious they didn’t have any rules laid out and then just didn’t communicate while they were there. I’m sorry, having sex in front of people in that situation is pretty standard, but not wanting to do that is cool. Getting sucked off by your wife’s friend while she watches and cries isn’t as standard.
Also! The show making it seem like that’s what happens at sex clubs is low-key f*cked-up. For 99% of people, it’s something they choose to do together, but go on, Netflix! Let’s add another layer of insecurities for people who are having normal and consensual non-monogamous sex. Le sigh.
8. Cooper Just Keeps Reading Billie’s Journal
Sure, fool me twice, shame on me. But like, not really, because Brad is literally violating his wife’s privacy. Regardless, after reading Billie’s
Word doc journal, he freaks TF and plays the victim, even though uh, you snooped, sir. Yes, it’s unsettling to see your wife is writing about her old relationship, but she actually didn’t do anything wrong in that regard.
That aside, whatever. People snoop, that’s not so far-fetched. What is unrealistic, however, is the fact that Cooper not only reads Billie’s journal, but she knows he’s reading it, and he knows she knows he’s reading it, and he just keeps reading it, and she just keeps writing in it. This is just straight-up masochistic. Yes, he should be cut loose for snooping, but I’d also maybe stop writing scandy things (at least in the same place) if I knew my S.O. was being a little lurking b*tch, but that’s just me.
9. Billie Doesn’t Have A F*cking Lock On Her Computer
Cooper’s snooping brings me to the most unrealistic, absurd element of the entire show: Billie’s “journal.” This smart woman is writing her feelings down in a simple word document she leaves up on her computer. Her computer that doesn’t have a lock screen. And the same computer she just leaves lying on the counter for anyone to open and use.
Billie’s a professional. What professional doesn’t have a lock on their computer? What non-professional doesn’t? You have sensitive emails and bank statements and in her case, musings about your ex on there! And after her hubs snooped, you’d think she’d spend one second to go into settings and whip up a password based on her childhood pet, but nope! Billie just keeps writing in her little doc on her computer that she leaves out and expects her insecure husband not to snoop. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE AND HOW IS SHE GIVING LECTURES?
What it all comes down to is this: Sex/Life is no Bridgerton, and if these people lived in the world of Lady Whistledown, it wouldn’t have taken an entire season for their relationship to crumble. And honestly? They’d probably be having a hell of a lot better sex, too.
Images: COURTESY OF NETFLIX (2)
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At this point, it’s not a hot take to complain that there are too many streaming services, but I’ll just say it anyway: there are TOO MANY streaming services. Every time I feel like I’m caught up on whichever shows we’re all watching at any given time, I get hit with DMs asking why I haven’t posted about on . It’s too much!
Honestly, I kind of miss the days when all we had was Netflix. Remember that? Netflix and chill was a cultural reset, and they only had like, two original shows that you actually cared about watching. Simpler times. While I love having options, sometimes I just want to open up Netflix and watch whatever is presented to me first. So, in the spirit of simplicity, here’s a breakdown of the best sh*t coming to Netflix this month.
‘Downton Abbey’ – 6/1
If you’re looking for an emotional show to sink your teeth into, it is my pleasure to report that all six seasons of Downton Abbey are now on Netflix. If you’ve never watched, the show follows the family and the servants at an English manor house in the early 1900s. You might be unsure about a show where people wear ball gowns to dinner, but don’t worry, there’s no shortage of messy drama here. Also, you’ll cry… a lot.
‘Happy Endings’ – 6/1
Ever since it ended in 2013, I’ve constantly heard people talk about how Happy Endings is underrated, which makes me wonder if it’s actually underrated, but whatever. This sitcom about a group of twenty- and thirty-something friends living in Chicago is hilarious, and you should watch it whether it’s appropriately rated or not. The only downside is that there are only three seasons, so you’ll be miserable when you finish all the episodes in a week and a half.
‘The Big Lebowski’ – 6/1
Father’s Day is right around the corner, and Netflix really came through this year by adding The Big Lebowski. If this isn’t one of your dad’s favorite movies, it probably actually is, and he just doesn’t remember what it’s called. This one isn’t exactly my cup of tea (don’t @ me), but it’s a cult classic, and everyone should see Jeff Bridges as The Dude at least once.
‘Dirty John’ Season 2 – 6/1
True crime fans, listen up. The second season of Dirty John is finally on Netflix, but it’s a completely new story from season one. Season two tells the true story of Betty Broderick, a New York woman who was convicted of murdering her ex-husband in San Diego in 1989. The case got a ton of media attention at the time, so this is the kind of show you can watch in one sitting, then go on a Reddit deep dive about all the details they inevitably left out or fictionalized.
‘Awake’ – 6/9
Netflix drops original movies these days faster than I dropped my dating standards post-quarantine, but this one looks like it could be worth watching. In Awake, a ~mysterious global event~ wipes out all electronic devices, and makes it so that humans are unable to sleep. As the entire world spirals out of control, one woman (played by Gina Rodriguez) realizes that her daughter may be the answer to whatever the f*ck is going on. Looks creepy, I’m in.
‘Lupin’ Part 2 – 6/11
Lupin, the French show about a professional thief, was one of Netflix’s biggest international hits when it first dropped in January, but they did that obnoxious thing where they split the season in half and only gave us five episodes. Well, now we’re finally getting part two, which is sadly still only five more episodes. Whatever, we’ll take it.
‘Silver Linings Playbook’ – 6/17
I loved Silver Linings Playbook when it came out (I saw it twice in theaters). Now it feels like a time capsule to a moment when Jennifer Lawrence was the most beloved person on the planet, and we were just finding out that Bradley Cooper can like, kind of act? This one still holds a special place in my heart, and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend stocking up on SkinnyPop for a movie night with friends.
‘Elite’ Season 4 – 6/18
The hot American teens of Euphoria are taking FOREVER to come back with another season, but luckily the hot Spanish teens of Elite are here to hold us over. If you’ve never watched, it’s kind of like a Gossip Girl vibe, but way edgier than the CW would have ever allowed. Also, Netflix already renewed it for a fifth season that will be coming in 2022, so you don’t have to worry about it getting canceled.
Images: NIETE/NETFLIX; Giphy (5); Rotten Tomatoes (2), Netflix / YouTube
What’s the biggest scam you’ve fallen for lately, and why was it watching The Woman In The Window? The trailer for Netflix’s latest thriller starring Amy Adams makes it seem like a twisty thriller along the likes of The Girl on the Train (you thought I’d compare it to Gone Girl, didn’t you, but let me be clear that my expectations were not quite so high). Although the reviews were not good, I tuned in anyway, the nearly two-hour version of your S.O. handing the milk carton to you and saying, “smell this, I think it’s bad.” In any case, I hadn’t read the book, so I figured I’d at least be surprised by the ending.
While, like I said, I wasn’t expecting The Woman In The Window to be the next Gone Girl, I certainly wasn’t expecting… whatever it was. Truthfully, I started writing a listicle entitled “17 Things More Suspenseful Than ‘The Woman In The Window’” but felt that in order to do the ridiculousness of this movie justice, I needed to recap it. Yes, that means I watched this ill-conceived movie not once, but twice. They say all great artists suffer for their art, but even I found this (completely self-inflicted) punishment a bit extreme.
But, this will be good for me since I mostly texted through my first viewing (although I feel confident in stating that I didn’t miss much).
In any case, we open with Amy Adams, aka Dr. Anna Fox, waking up on the floor of what’s supposed to be a brownstone on West 121st St. in Manhattan, but, as anyone who’s ever stepped foot in a Manhattan apartment can tell you, is actually just a mansion the filmmakers have plunked into Harlem. I mean, even the main floor has multiple palatial rooms in it, and this brownstone has three floors and a basement apartment. Plus, the bedrooms can fit way more than a full-sized bed. I rest my case.
Realty deception aside, the film opens with Anna watching a family move in across the street—the Russells. She’s having a conversation with her husband and daughter, but even my first time watching this, I immediately knew they were both dead. Know how I know that? Because this woman repeatedly throughout the movie has conversations with disembodied voices. Come on. Twist one, ya blew it.
Already, we’re supposed to know that something is up with this family: Anna remarks, “who moves in after a one-day paint job?” And it’s like, um, every single renter in NYC. Most of us don’t have the luxury of waiting for the paint to dry before we can move in because we have to GTFO of our previous rentals.
Anna sees a patient, but it really seems like the patient is seeing her, since she’s updating him on her life and the neighborhood. This is giving me big Grace in The Undoing vibes, because both of them were terrible psychologists. This patient of Anna’s is very interested in the neighbors who just moved in across the street, and Anna knows from speaking to the broker that the husband is a banker and the family just moved from Boston. And again, another unrealistic plot point. I’ve lived in my apartment building for three years and couldn’t pick any of my neighbors out of a lineup. I literally just had someone move into the unit below me and the broker wouldn’t tell me sh*t about them. Anyway.
Just kidding, turns out the patient was actually Anna’s doctor making a house call. Apparently she’s not doing too great, which, yea, I could have guessed by how she’s having full conversations with dead people. Also, she’s taking a medication that you’re not supposed to drink on. But Anna treats that suggestion much like I treat any warning not to mix a medication with alcohol:
At night, the boy who just moved in across the street rings Anna’s bell to drop off a gift. She tells him she’s not letting in visitors and he says, “I’m not really a visitor, I’m more like, a neighbor.”
She lets him in, even after that criminally terrible line. Definitely not weird at all to go over to your neighbor’s in what appears to be the middle of the night…
Anna tells Ethan that she and her family are “separated”, and it’s like, yeah. Separated from this Earth. Don’t come for me, I really don’t think that’s a spoiler! Use your brain cells!
Ethan, who is supposedly just shy of 16 but looks about 25, is shocked that Anna is a child psychologist. He can’t fathom “why a kid would need a psychologist” and it’s like, dude, where have you been for the past five years? We’re de-stigmatizing mental health.
He does concede that being a child psychologist is “more interesting than like, working at Taco Bell” (bizarre observation) and automatically assumes Anna treats the kind of children who are plotting “school shootings or torturing someone,” which I feel should have been a red flag.
Already Ethan starts acting extremely weird, flinching when Anna tries to touch his shoulder and also, as I mentioned before, simply being over there at night? Then they go look over Anna’s movie collection—again, not at all a weird thing to do with a child (who is clearly an adult in a hoodie) that you just met.
After Ethan leaves, Anna falls asleep watching some old movie, cracking up on her couch. The movie in question does not seem at all funny.
The next day, we meet David, Anna’s tenant who’s apparently been living there for three months, but who we are just hearing of now. It’s also Halloween, and they fight over whether Anna will answer the door for trick-or-treaters (no) or leave a bowl of candy out (no, because “they’ll take all the candy, and then they’ll take the bowl”). Geez, what a grinch. Somebody tell this woman about disposable bowls!
Her reputation as a grinch must be preceding her, because the neighborhood kids egg her house. Anna opens her front door to confront those meddling kids, then promptly blacks out. When she comes to, Julianne Moore is in her house. At first I wondered how Julianne Moore could have seen Anna have a panic attack from insider her own home, but then I noticed it was because she was at the door right when Anna opened it to yell at the kids. See, it was worth watching twice!
Anna surmises, “you must be Jane Russell.” Julianne Moore replies, “what makes you say that?” and again, that should throw up a red flag! Like, the only reason I’d respond this way would be if I was a celebrity and trying to troll a fan. Maybe one day…
Why Anna and Jane strike up anything resembling a friendship is beyond me, because Jane acts like a huge c-word right out of the gate. When Anna reveals she’s agoraphobic, Jane replies, “You’re stuck inside this shitty house,” and then, if that weren’t clear enough, she reiterates, “Oh man. I’d hate to be stuck inside a house this shitty.” Ma’am! This is a mansion in the middle of New York City (well, not the middle—the top part. You get the point). The house is not, by any measure of the word, shitty! And also, how unbelievably rude!
Amping up the rudeness, Jane asks, “so what do you do all day? You work?” Damn, lady! Which pack of wolves taught you manners? Why Anna hasn’t kicked her out already is beyond me.
Anna again reiterates that she is separated from her husband and that her daughter Olivia is “with her father.” Ominous…
After trying to pry and ask Anna if she wants to go outside, Jane bursts into laughter when Anna curtly tells her she has a shrink of her own. I don’t know what kind of acting direction these people were given, but having taken one screenwriting course in college, I can confidently say this is not it. And next they’re talking about Anna’s pills, and what each of them do, and I can’t help but think this is all incredibly invasive. And I’m supposed to believe this is a sudden friendship these two struck up? I’ve been more polite to my enemies.
Anna tries to change the subject—again, because this woman is prying like she’s a human crowbar—and Jane goes, “oh wow. Subject change,” and then mimes a neck injury, like she’s getting whiplash. Again, weird acting direction. Would anyone ever do this IRL? It seems terribly corny.
Anna compliments Jane’s earrings, and Jane remarks that they were from an old boyfriend. Anna asks if her husband knows, and like, why is that information your husband would need to know? He keeps track of where every single one of your belongings comes from? You’ve never heard of just saying they’re from TJ Maxx? I mean, I just claim most of my clothing and accessories are from Macy’s because there’s a 99% chance that’s true. Anyway, Jane says her husband has trust issues and they both laugh about it, and I’m sitting here, not a psychologist, but even I know that if your husband is so jealous that he can’t stand you wearing earrings you got from an ex, that’s a problem!!
Anna asks, “why is your family complicated?” and Jane plops down a sketch she apparently just drew of Anna, even though she’s had the notepad in her hand for approximately three seconds. Oh what, so only you can be invasive, rude, and call out when people are trying to change the subject? Ok, Jane. Ok.
After Jane leaves, Alistair Russell is at Anna’s door to ask “if any of my family has come around to see you this evening.” What a weirdly vague way of putting that. Also, have these people never heard of a phone? Anna says no, for reasons unknown, which catches Alistair off-guard. Probably because he knows she’s lying. But then why not just ask directly…
After he leaves, Anna hears some movement in her kitchen and immediately calls 911 to tell them she thinks there’s someone in her house. Except it’s just her tenant, rummaging around in the kitchen he pays to use. Why would that be your first reaction when you know someone else lives in your house…?
David is another asshole, because after he pokes around on Anna’s skylight when he notices there’s mold on it and Anna yells at him to come back inside (because it’s not sturdy, this will be important later), he scares her by jumping out of a corner and yelling “Boo!” you did it, bro. You cured her agoraphobia with your sick prank.
Maybe the next night, or later that night (I can’t tell because time elapses like molasses in this movie), someone apparently screams at the apartment across the street. I say “apparently” because this is a main plot driver, yet I did not hear the scream when my TV volume was on loud; I’m only aware of it because my closed captions said . This woman has got to have some bionic ears for knowing precisely which apartment the screams are coming from. When I hear people scream or make a noise from my apartment, I can barely tell if it’s coming from the apartments to my front or the ones behind me. And yet, she’s located the precise building and unit from whence these screams originated? Ok.
So naturally Anna calls Ethan to ask if everything is ok. She then sees Jane leave the apartment, looking over her shoulder. Alistair calls back Anna’s number being like, “hello, you just called here?” which is another thing that would never happen because Ethan picked up the phone; it wasn’t like there was a missed call. Who goes through their call log to call back every number you accepted a call from??
Anna then calls David out of his room to ask if he heard the scream across the street. Damn, this lady is an annoying landlord. It’s New York City, who isn’t screaming?
Then she grabs a camera just in time to see Ethan headed over to her place. He basically says that his dad is abusing him, and Anna gives him her number and assures him her house is a safe place. And yet, does she call CPS? No. She justifies it by saying that it’s just her word against the dad’s, but I’m sorry, is this woman not a mandated reporter? Isn’t this literally her job to call CPS?? Nah, just gonna call the police on my tenant for being in his kitchen instead.
Well, that ethical dilemma is not met with another thought, as we next see Anna learning French for some reason. An apple twirls on the screen while she repeats the French word for apple. This Duolingo lesson is not significant to the plot in any way. I want to personally ask why this was kept in instead of, oh I don’t know, any character development or detail.
Anna falls asleep in front of the TV again, this time, to some 1940s-era doctor being like, “I’m going to freeze your face” and honestly I know it’s supposed to be scary, but it just feels like when Derek Zoolander went to that Daiye Spa. Anna wakes up in a panic because she can’t find her phone and keeps repeating to herself, “backtrack.” Like, ma’am, backtrack to what? I know it’s a big brownstone, but you don’t leave the house. Just search your home. It’s not like when I lose my credit card and I have to backtrack to brunch, then the after-brunch bar, then my ex’s apartment…
Anyway, at this moment Anna notices something strange happening across the street, so she grabs her DSLR camera. She sees Jane getting shoved backward, then stumbling forward with a knife in her stomach and falling over. And what does this woman do? She snaps a picture of it with the camera she’s holding in her hands for something exactly like this moment. Just kidding! She fucking drops the camera and rushes to the landline, which is mysteriously not working. Useless. Useless.
Then she goes bothering David again, and finds her phone under his bed.
Anna calls 911 and tells the operator that she watched her neighbor get stabbed. The 911 operator is extremely unhelpful and just asks if she stabbed her neighbor. Um, is that how 911 calls go? We’re going by the “whoever smelt it, dealt it” rule?
Anna tries to rush across the street to help Jane and falls on her way down the steps, ultimately not making it. At least she tried!
When Anna gets back, there’s an NYPD detective INSIDE HER HOUSE, which has got to be illegal. She didn’t give them permission to enter, and last I checked, she called to report a crime in progress across the street. Where’s the probable cause?? Alistair is also there. Again, that’s gotta be breaking all kinds of laws. Finally, a realistic portrayal of life in New York!
Alistair is only there to insist that Anna has never met his wife. The cops are extremely antagonistic, insisting that nothing happened and berating Anna for not having taken a picture. Helpful.
Anna then asks what we’re all thinking: then where’s Jane? Enter, a totally different woman, insisting she is Jane Russell. Ethan, too, insists Anna has never met his mother. Rather than asking a single follow-up question about what Anna did see, the cops just inform her that making a false police report is a crime. Solid police work, boys, thank you for your service!
The next morning, Anna tries to stalk Jane Russell online. She comes up empty-handed, but she does find Alistair’s LinkedIn. She starts calling up his workplace (totally normal) and learns that he no longer works at his old company. She finds this strange, but like, people change jobs all the time? Especially considering they just moved from out of state?
In her Facebook stalking, Anna also comes across a woman named Pam Nazin, who worked with Alistair. Pam died. A Google search brings up the headline, “Woman Found Dead In Brookline” which is really not as ominous as the over-the-top suspenseful music wants us to believe it is. People can be found dead for all sorts of reasons. The fact that she was an exec at Alistair’s company at the time seems like a tenuous thread.
She calls up the New York office and finds out that Pamela was not an executive, but Alistair’s executive assistant. And then she immediately tips her hand by asking suspicious questions to which she already knows the answers. Yikes, she is not good at this. Apparently Pam fell off a balcony. Still not really seeing the connection.
Then this lady goes to bother David AGAIN (however below market value the rent she’s charging may be, it’s still too high). When she doesn’t hear an answer, she goes to his room and starts looking at his mail. Not a good look, considering David opens the door right at that moment, and he is pissed.
Literally no one:
Seriously, I did not notice this even though they zoomed in on his mail:
David: Ok yeah! You caught me! I’m in violation of my parole! I’m supposed to be in Springfield, Massachusetts.
David: NO! NOT OK! It was a stupid bar fight, I got jumped and I reacted.
Uhh dude, she was saying it’s fine that you’re violating parole by living in her apartment. Maybe just take the W and shut up?
Anna continues taking photos of the Russells’ apartment and manages to capture an argument at the dinner table, only to get a voicemail from the real Jane Russell saying, “stop watching our house or I’ll call the police.”
The next morning, Anna can’t find her cat (probably went the way of the mysterious missing cell phone). Damn, I’m literally right because the cat is also under David’s bed. These two need to draw up some serious boundaries, because this is getting creepy on both sides.
Just then, Anna notices something: Jane (first Jane)’s earring on David’s nightstand. That’s odd.
While having another conversation with her dead husband in her head, Anna breaks a glass in her sink. Then she spots Ethan walking across the street, and opens out her window and yells, “Ethan, where’s your mother!” So then Ethan runs over, understandably, to be like “ummm you can’t just yell at me while I’m on the street!” they get into an argument that goes like this:
Anna: I know what I saw!
Ethan: You don’t, you’re just wrong!
Anna: But I know what I saw!
Ethan: You don’t, you’re just wrong!
No, I did not hit ctrl+V too many times. They literally repeat the same lines of dialogue. And by “repeat” I mean scream, because nobody actually acts in this movie, they just yell. I feel like I could have auditioned.
Anna yells, “why are you lying for him?” Ethan whispers, “I can’t tell you” (ooh, range) and Alistair then storms in, clocking Ethan in the face and then yelling at Anna. He calls their relationship inappropriate (true) since Ethan’s 15-and-a-half and Anna is a mature woman (I don’t know about mature, but, true).
Alistair gets all up in Anna’s face like he’s going to kiss her but instead hollers, “Stay away from my son! Please!” while Anna snivels in between his arms. God, this acting. Put me out of my misery.
The next day, Anna witnesses Ethan walk out of the apartment and get into a black van. Not at all sketch. She then decides to go through her photos on her computer and an email comes in from the cleverly named address, [email protected]. Inside the email is a picture of Anna sleeping, which seems to have been taken from inside the house.
Anna freaks out and calls the cops, who’d look about as thrilled to undergo a colonoscopy as they do to respond to this report. Actually, they would much rather prefer the colonoscopy, you can just tell. These cops are so actively mean to her that, again, it’s almost a satire. Maybe this whole movie is meant to be a scathing indictment on the NYPD?
Take this exchange, for example.
Anna: Can you track it?
Cop Played By Paper Boi From Atlanta: Track it?
Anna: Or… trace it?
Paper Boi: You can’t track a Gmail account.
First of all, bro, you knew what she meant. We all knew she meant trace. It’s the same thing. We know you know she didn’t mean track as in an Amazon shipment. Second of all, one Google search told me that you can find someone’s IP address even if they use Gmail. Then again, cops being too lazy to click one link in Gmail? Sounds about right. Instead, the lady cop just victim-blames, telling Anna, “you could’ve sent this to yourself.” They really don’t even try to hide their disdain.
And just then, Alistair comes storming in, clamoring on about how Anna called his office and how she’s a drunk and a drug addict. Again… who gave this man permission to enter her home?
Anna pulls out what she thinks is a trump card, the drawing “Jane” drew at her apartment. I’m sorry, but this doodle doesn’t prove shit. Just then, David walks in (this is a clusterfuck) and Anna snitches on him! Talk about disloyal. She knows full well why David would want to lay low around the police right now, and when the cops ask David if he has a last name, he tries to be slick like, “no. It’s just David. Like Sting.” And this narc goes, “It’s Winters. David Winters.” Anna! Why would you do that?
Even worse is that she doesn’t even get his last name right, it’s apparently Winter, singular. Nosy and wrong, name a worse combination.
David says he’s never met Jane Russell, and Anna says, in front of everybody, “her earring was on your nightstand.” Instead of being like, “oh damn, this is a revelation,” the lady cop immediately goes, “what were you doing in your tenant’s bedroom?” I’m sorry, is that illegal? She could have been fixing something…
David reveals the earring belongs to a woman named Katherine who “spent the night” with him the other week. Then Anna goes FULL RAT on David and tells the cops that he borrowed a box cutter from her (not sure what that has to do with anything, we all saw the woman get stabbed with a knife) and then tells the cops that he’s violating his parole by being in New York!! You really should get that boxcutter back, Anna, because we all know what happens to snitches.
Now Anna’s just taking shots at everybody, literally pointing fingers: “he’s been to prison and borrowed a knife from me (way to be prejudicial, and also, a box cutter ≠ a knife); he’s abusive and was fired from his job and his assistant died; I saw Alistair slap Ethan in my home yesterday.”
She’s spiraling on a monologue about how someone needs to help Ethan, and let me say this is poorly written and also bizarre. “If my husband were here,” she says, “he would help.”
“Dr. Fox, your family is dead,” the lady cop says. Again, this is like, apparently supposed to be some huge twist but seemed very clear to me from the get-go. Know how I know? She was having conversations with her husband the whole movie, but they weren’t in person… or on the phone… so there really was only one explanation.
Anna says, “I don’t know how you can live with yourself if you let something happen to a child,” and then we cut to: Christmas, the year prior, and Anna and her family are driving somewhere. They’re getting into an argument because they’re sick of pretending, because (gasp) Anna cheated and guess who happens to be calling her cell phone at that moment! Yep, her side bro. Mister? IDK what you call a male affair partner. Anna drops her phone and tries to reach for it, then ends up swerving off the road and crashing into a tree, killing her husband and daughter.
Damn. The lady doth project too much.
Anyway, this was supposed to be a bombshell but was about as explosive as a fart.
So then this woman comes to in a That’s So Raven-esque way:
And everyone is staring at her like bitch, you good?
She’s clearly not good, because she looks out into the other room where her car is bottoms-up in the snow and then we’re back at the accident scene. God, I hate the way they did just about everything with this movie.
At this moment, Anna thinks maybe she’s just hallucinating from her meds and apologizes to the Russells.
The next day, she has a talk with her psychiatrist in what might be the only good scene in the movie. It’s a frank discussion about how badly Anna’s mental health has deteriorated. Although I didn’t love the psychiatrist laughing at her when Anna remarked that the Elevan might not be good for her. He chuckled like, “no shit, not if you’re hallucinating.” Felt a little dickish. But whatever!
Then, Anna’s crushing up all her pills into a powder and starts filming a suicide note. Damn, this took a dark turn. Does this woman even have any living relatives at all? The purpose of the video seems to just be so that David isn’t implicated in her death, which is nice of her now that she likely got the guy sent back to jail.
But then, as she does a pre-death scroll through her photos (don’t we all?) Anna notices something: the reflection of the woman she thought was Jane in her wine glass, in a picture she took. It’s then that she hears some thumping around in the basement, and David is back.
This bitch is literally giddy, showing David the face in the wine glass. He’s really not amused. He’s just like… “yes, the woman I told you I slept with does, in fact, exist. So?” This is kind of sad.
David explains that the woman’s name is Katie, she’s Ethan’s birth mother, and they had a one-night stand on Wednesday. He says she was basically, completely insane, and “I spent a night on a couch in Astoria just so I could get away from her.” I mean, ouch, no need to bring Astoria into this. What did our Greek food ever do to you?
Apparently Katie ran away when she was 8 months pregnant and Alistair found her in some meth commune and she went to jail. (Are meth communes… a thing?) Then she got out and stalked the family, basically. This is a pretty wild story, and yet Anna is treating it with as much surprise as you would when you realize the grocery store is out of the brand of yogurt you prefer to buy. Hello??? Meth commune??? Prison??? Why is nobody reacting to this??? Twist 3, ya botched it.
Even though David does acknowledge that yes, Katie is a real person, he has no desire to find out if this woman is alive or dead. I know she was a stage 5, but damn that’s harsh. The woman was maybe stabbed!
And while she’s yelling at David to go to the police with her (when will she learn that the police actively do not want to help her), this fool drops her laptop and shatters the screen. I’m sure that pic is still up on the iCloud, but still.
And then from a corner, someone sneezes. ACHOO! It’s Ethan, since he’s allergic to cats! (Sorry, seemed like a random detail earlier). And he’s holding a knife! Note, Anna, how different it looks from a box cutter! He evil villain monologues about how he has an alibi since everyone thinks he’s in New Hampshire in a “wilderness program” which is really a juvenile prison facility. He also monologues that he killed David with Anna’s knife and intends to frame her for the murder, and implies that he set a fire to the prison before escaping. Is this really the same guy who couldn’t fathom why a child would need to see a psychiatrist?
He then reveals that he watched Anna make the suicide video and that he’s been in the house all week and continues to evil villain monologue about how he’s a budding serial killer whose M.O. is to kill unfit mothers, he just doesn’t have a method of choice nailed down yet. He literally says, “I don’t have a pattern yet. There’s so many choices. Who do I wanna be when I grow up?” this line of dialogue sounds like it’s ripped from the career counseling office of a liberal arts college, not a pre-murder speech.
Ethan says, “I just wanna watch you go” as if he simply enjoys seeing people die and not the act of murdering them. I just feel like there are a few lines of work you could go into if you simply are desensitized to death. You obviously like the killing part, so just say it! So Anna dumps all her crushed-up meds into her wine and is like, “fine, you wanna watch me die? Watch me.” Then at the last second she hits him over the face with her wine bottle.
Thus begins a mad and drawn-out chase all around the house (ugh, why is this house so big?). First Ethan stabs David (who was, up until that point, still alive). Then Ethan and Anna end up on the roof (yes, Anna actually went outside! To probably the worst location possible, because now she’s trapped on a roof with a murderer instead of just being trapped in a house with a murderer!), and of course it’s raining. It’s always raining in these things.
Ethan yells, “STOP FIGHTING ME!” and keeps reiterating shit like, “you don’t even want to live anymore!” like this is supposed to be some kindness, brutally stabbing someone in their own home with a rake to the face because they were struggling with their mental health. What a little asshole.
Obviously, at the last minute, Anna maneuvers Ethan on top of the skylight and sends him crashing through it, killing him. See, I told you that would be important.
Afterwards, the same fucking cops show up to the hospital where Anna’s at (they have some nerve). The first thing out of Paper Boi’s mouth? “Don’t stay on the painkillers too long because that shit feels good.” Oh, NOWWW you’re concerned about this woman’s mental health? GTFO. The SECOND thing is “I’m sorry.” Way to have your priorities on straight.
Then Paper Boi reveals he saw her video and does the one nice thing he’s done this whole movie and covers so she can delete the video before her phone goes into evidence and everyone else sees it.
She’s like, “really?” and he’s like, “look I messed up this case so badly i don’t think one more thing’s gonna hurt me, alright?” He’s not wrong.
His last words are, “I’m not gonna have to worry about you, right?” and he doesn’t even wait for an answer, just a faint smile, before he walks out of the room. Hahah tell me you don’t give a shit without actually telling me.
Nine months later, Anna is selling the brownstone. She says one last goodbye to the spirit of her dead husband in a scene that lasts like five full minutes, and we all get the point. I still don’t really get what was with the dead assistant. I guess Ethan killed her, but why? Was she having an affair with his dad? I suppose it doesn’t matter. Anna gets into a cab and drives off, and that’s the end.
All in all, this movie was really not worth my hour and a half. For a thriller, the one moment that made me jump was a fake-out when, right before Anna bent down to pick up David’s mail, a piece of clothing fell down from the ceiling (which, by the way, was never explained). None of the twists were dramatic or altogether surprising. And for all the yelling the characters did, none of them acted surprised in any way when the twists were revealed. I can’t believe I got through this movie once, let alone twice. If you endured it even once, I hope you enjoyed this recap.
Images: Melinda Sue Gordon / Netflix; Giphy (3)