I'm probably the last person to see Bridesmaids.
Quick therapydoc synopsis:
Annie (Kristen Wiig) has a relationship with a man who tells her, after a night of serious hard work in bed, that he wants her out of his apartment toute de suite.
It is morning. It is against the rules, sleeping over.
She knows the rules, and she knows who makes them.
Right away we have a problem. Annie is creative, she's smart. She looks like Meg Ryan, but is so much funnier. She shouldn't have trouble finding a man who will treat her right.
It's a trite theme. Girl in her thirties tries to please a guy who isn't good enough for her, who treats her badly. It is a friends with benefits relationship. Even Annie would say that the benefits don't outweigh the emotional costs, a rich-boyfriend-who-uses-her-for-sex versus always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
But she hangs on, probably because she doesn't want other people to think she's always alone, a definitive loser. At least that's what my patients tell me, and there are many like Annie in therapy. To her credit, she's taking some control because indeed, she doesn't want to be alone. Not every. . single. . night. She wants someone she thinks of as her boyfriend. She wants someone to love her.
We call it settling. Something's better than nothing-- the rule, not the exception in relationships. And let's talk-- many a woman would settle for a man who looks half as good as Jon Hamm. But this is the movies and most of them don't.
In reality, men are treated poorly in relationships, too.
Being a guy doesn't prevent a significant other from walking all over a person, the wishes and needs of the other ascendant, superseding their own. It isn't gender-specific, self-denial. The denier feels powerless, pathetic.
Not an unusual topic in therapy. Therapists, like friends, want to shake the patient, who tends to be among the good people in the world, a sincerely giving individual. We want to scream, The best is yet to come! Ditch him! Ditch her! Easy for us to say. Tempting, but inappropriate. Not our call to make. More powerful coming from the patient. We'll get there, give it time.
So of course you want to take a look at the family of origin. Who raised Annie?
Her mom (perfection, Jill Clayburgh) goes to AA meetings and sponsors alcoholics even though she doesn't drink. She never did. What's up with this? Why not Al Anon, go to meetings with people who have to deal with people who use?
We can assume that people in Jill's family did drink, and that Annie's mother got very comfortable in the fixing role, the helping role. Alcoholics need a lot of help (read Dry, but Augusten Burrows, if you haven't already). Annie's mom is that woman who can't give up the rescue role (co-dependent), who loves to see a down and outer get off the sauce, needs to be a part of it. She desperately wants to be involved in the sobriety of others. A talented artist, she can lose herself in her healthy coping strategy. Annie is artistic, too, there's clearly some transference. But Annie isn't out there fixing an alcoholic. She is the addict, and the drug isn't alcohol.
Mom adores Annie and Annie loves her mom, knows she can come home any time. And when Annie hits bottom, desperately trying to help her friend Lillian, the bride, she does. She comes home, penniless.
Did Annie watch her mother do everything for her father with very little, maybe nothing in return?
I think so. Seeing your mom in that selfless, co-dependent, giving role, it has to wear off on you, especially if she is as wonderful and as entertaining as Annie's. She's so good, so selfless.
Says it all, don't you think?
Annie is chosen as Lillian's Maid of Honor and she wants to make everything wonderful for the bride, beginning with the bachelorette party, the shower, a dinner to celebrate. Her wacky blunders are probably the movie's draw for most people. The film is a comedy of errors, everything Annie does, a disaster. We like her more for her incompetency, of course, and because she's so naturally funny. Lillian can depend upon Annie to make her laugh. Most people who know her probably do.
That's a role in an alcoholic family, too, being a clown. Somebody has to clown around, make everyone laugh, so that nobody has to look at the problem: Dad's a drunk, not funny. Somebody do something funny, please! Distract us.
I love a good movie about co-dependency. This one worked for me on that level, much more than as a comedic film. I really didn't need to see that first scene, how hard Annie works to sexually satisfy a guy who will never work that hard for her at anything. It is a stellar example of co-dependence.
You give, but you don't get back, and you'll settle for that.
It's what you're used to seeing in the family or origin, you can bet on it.