I am the first person to admit I love a good romantic comedy. Regardless of how predictable and silly they are, these movies help me sit back, relax, and unplug from the real world.
For 100 minutes, I can watch the lives of the main character unfold wearing beautiful outfits, going on fun adventures, make a mess, and then have an easy cleanup.
During a recent movie binge (because quarantine and I have nothing better to do than watch movies) I noticed some of my all-time favorite rom-coms feature the leading lady in the same field, a career I am personally trying to pursue, journalism. I started to think about all the romantic comedies I've seen over the years and while you will occasionally find a teacher, struggling high school student, or lawyer, romantic comedies often follow the female journalist trope.
It is easy to understand why screenwriters go for these types of characters; the job of a journalist can be exciting, especially if it is running a television station or writing about fashion. And major media outlets are often in big cities, making plot points easy to get across, plus the fourth estate helps keep our government and big businesses in check while informing the public about what is going on. The audience often feels connected to reporters through words or seeing their faces on their TV screens every day. And in rom-coms, female journalists are everywhere. But after realizing this, I started to wonder, did these fictional female characters actually influence my decision to study journalism?
1. Jenna Rink from "13 Going on 30"
This movie and character will always have a special place in my heart. It was the very first PG-13 movie I was ever allowed to see, and I vividly remember walking into the theater at 7 years old with my mom and seeing the blue screen turn into the yearbook set up.
This movie may also have started my obsession with '80s music. In this film, 13-year-old Jenna wishes to be "30, flirty, and thriving" and later finds herself as an editor at the women's fashion magazine, "Poise."
To this day, her job would be an ultimate dream, topped with the cherry that is her closet. While I don't want to wake up eight years later realizing I ostracized all those close to me, this movie framed the way I will always view female journalists.
2. Josie Geller from "Never Been Kissed"
I remember sitting in front of my TV at home, possibly at nine years old, definitely too young to be watching this movie. While I think this movie also made me fear the concept of going to high school six years later, I remember loving the idea of someone going undercover and writing a story.
Now as a journalist, I can reflect and say her story wasn't the best. She didn't share what she learned, another paper got the scoop before, and she blew her cover. Plus, there are some problematic themes with this movie, like a teacher falling for one of his students, us rom-com lovers excuse this because Josie is 25 after all. But all the literary references make me very happy and no one will convince me not to enjoy this movie.
3. Andy Sachs from "The Devil Wears Prada"
There are so many things I love about this movie, the clothes, Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, and the realistic perception of an assistant working around the clock, which does make me fear for my future. While I admire Andy's drive to learn about the fashion industry, I wish it would be that easy for a recent college graduate to obtain a position like hers.
While Andy technically isn't a full-blown reporter, this movie needs to be on the list and how could we possibly leave Meryl Streep out?
4. Alison Scott from "Knocked Up"
The queen of rom-coms herself, Katherine Heigl, stars in this comedic Judd Apatow film. The movie centers around a woman who just secured an on-air role with E! and then learns she is pregnant. In the film, Heigl's character Alison tries to hide her pregnancy from her boss, fearing she will be fired if he finds out.
Remember, this film was released in 2007 and over the past 13 years there have been a few reform bills regarding maternity leave, so I'd say her fear is justified. This movie is definitely a comedy, and I am sure some people watch it just because of Apatow. The one thing I remember about this movie is that Alison was a journalist.
5. Abby Richter from "The Ugly Truth"
And again, we have Katherine Heigl, but this time she is behind the camera as a morning show TV producer. This was the first movie where I started to consider what it would be like to work behind the scenes. News flash, my recent internship taught me it is really hard, no wonder Abby was so fed up with Mike (played by Gerard Butler) constantly altering the rundown.
6. Carrie Bradshaw from "Sex and the City"
Okay, okay, technically this is a series BUT there are in fact two movies so I will give it a pass. Carrie, a tech-challenged sex columnist in New York City lives a glorious life with three best friends and a closet full of designer shoes. How any columnist in New York manages to do this, I don't know, but again its television and not real life.
This show has a certain allure and I would be lying if I didn't view Carrie as an inspiration. She isn't scared to write about her escapades or the men in her life. Granted, she makes more than a few bad decisions but her crazy experiences somehow lead to success.
7. Rita Hanson from "Groundhog Day"
Is this movie a true rom-com, I guess it's up for interpretation. Just like Heigl's character in "The Ugly Truth," Andie MacDowell plays Rita Hanson, a good-natured news producer who puts up with the film's main character, Phil Connors, and his horrible personality.
While the movie focuses on Phil stuck this loop, it is hard not to admire Rita's determination, strength, positive outlook, and her true sense of self when rebuffing Phil's numerous attempts to sleep and seduce with her.
Becky Fuller from "Morning Glory"
Maybe it isn't so shocking I wanted a producing internship since I clearly love movies where the main character is just that. After rewatching "Morning Glory" I saw a lot of myself in Rachel McAdams' character.
I find myself over-committed to my work, which sometimes leads me to sacrifice other areas of my life. I love Becky's dedication to her job, and willingness to find alternative ways to improve her show.
A side note, McAdams would later go on to play Sacha Pfeiffer in Spotlight, a biographical drama about The Boston Globe's investigative reporting about child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. It isn't an exaggeration to say every student journalist loves this film and further inspires young reporters to dig deep and share every story.
9. Andie Anderson from "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days"
This list would not be complete without the phenomenal Kate Hudson as the basketball-loving and semi-manipulative Andie Anderson. Just like Jenna, Andie writes for a women's magazine, but this time called Composure, although she dreams of writing hard-hitting news besides sex positions and clothes. Side note, it is nice to know magazines are not mutually exclusive and reporters can do both.
While I love this movie, I have so many questions brought on by my twenties. The first, how the hell does she have time for so many dates, let alone plan an entire sham therapy session. Also, how is she making so much money to afford tickets for both a basketball game and a Celine Dion concert?
Plus, no editor I've ever had would be okay with me completely changing a story I pitched into an apology article. And my biggest qualm, the entire movie Andie says she wants to write something different, but completely disregards her interview and goes back to New York with Ben (my favorite Matthew McConaughey character.)
While I will always love this movie and watch it wherever and whenever, as an aspiring journalist, I am a bit concerned.
Despite numerous rom-coms depicting women as journalists, The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2019 report found men still dominate in every part of the news, entertainment, and digital media industry while women make up 41.7 percent of the newsroom. While it may not be the filmmaker's intention, there is something empowering about watching a woman thriving in a male-dominated industry on our screens.
But do filmmakers actually do these women justice? Many of the women listed above sacrifice their careers for men in their lives (Jenna reverts back to a teenager, Andie sacrifices her interview, and Becky gives up her dream job working for the Today show.) Their work as a journalist is just a path for them to achieve happiness, in these movie's cases, finding a man.
These movies are often filled with unethical motives journalism students are taught to stray far away from (Yes, I am talking about Amber in A Christmas Prince.)
Regardless of how problematic some elements of these movies are, it is hard not to see how I settled on journalism as my chosen profession, and if these movies taught me anything, I guess it would be what not to do in the real world.