Effusive Enthusiam: Mean Ladies I Admire

I'm a firm believer that plenty of good relationships have been ruined by matrimony. Once, when I used to watch Oprah instead of letting my mom recap the day's show when we talk on the phone, there was this couple on. They were fairly newly married and could not stand each other. Their dislike for each other was palatable but when asked what was the problem she said, "I can't stand the way he brushes his teeth." And whatever he said he hated about her was fairly trivial. Nobody asked me but I knew what had changed, they got married, that's what.

To this day if the husband introduces me as, "This is my wife" and then nothing, I add, "Also known as Margo and I kept my last name." I believe this is the social equivalent to fingernails on a chalkboard, but I can't help myself. So is it any wonder I identify with the less than romantic woman out there? Not to me there isn't. Today it's all about the righteously angry, mean and jaded ladies who warm the cockles of my heart. My top three:

1. Michelle Marks in Lovely & Amazing
Michelle Marks, played by Catherine Keener, is married, with a kid, a husband and a burning bitter hate she has no problem sharing with anyone in the near vicinity. She refuses to get a "real" job instead turning her artsy hobbies into one failed dabbling after another--like making precious miniature furniture out of twigs and birds nests she tries to sell to a shop that carries silly things and caters to people who go for $50 handmade paper to wrap a gift of $7 tube socks. When I saw this movie, I jumped off the couch and had my own Velvet Goldmine moment when the Christian Bale character sees the androgynous singer on TV and screams (in his head), "That's me! That's me!" She was is so me, to a scary degree. I may have toned it down, some days, since I got published but Michelle Marks is an example of how marriage and child rearing sucks the human right out of you and that empty space can be filled with unapologetic sarcasm. She might not be everyone's cup of bitter tea, but she's my anti-hero.

2. Barbara Rose in The War of the Roses
Danny DeVito has made some of my favorite movies because he mixes plenty of arsenic with his sugar. I've seen The War of the Roses dozens of times and it just keeps getter better and I especially like watching it with first timers who always make the mistake of saying "Barbra had it pretty good. Why would she want to divorce Oliver and mess it all up?" Why indeed. Let me tell you why. Because Barbara, played by Kathleen Turner, married one grade-A tool and she eventually got so sick of him she punched him in the face and tried to kill him a couple of times. What I love about this character is that she's the main instigator of trying to destroy the relationship. Usually in movies (and books) the woman is trying to incite one and this movie shows the flip side of it. She's so vicious and hateful it would be easy to see her as the bad guy, but I don't because she shows a woman can be mean and still have some dignity.

3. Miranda Hobbes in Sex and the City
Yeah, big surprise that the resident cynic of this show is my favorite. Miranda, played by Cynthia Nixon, poo-poo'd love and all that tripe until the bitter end. She got married, OK, but she married a guy that completely accepted she wasn't the puppies and satin ribbons type of gal. She wasn't having any of it and made no secret that she found satisfaction in other realms besides being a mother and wife, but because this is TV, it still didn't make her a bad mom or wife. And, no, hopeless and delusional romantic Charlotte York was not my least favorite. She may have been living in Upper East Side fairy tale land most of the time but at least she was honest. Unlike Carrie who I least liked. But I really did like that sweater she wore in one episode when she was at the second to last boyfriend's loft, the artist. It was a long gray cashmere cardigan that I still dream about and I'm hoping she'll knock off in acrylic for her Bitten line.

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