Katharine reminds me of other thrown-over women, like Kelly Preston’s Avery Bishop, the hard scoop to Renée Zellweger’s soft-serve heroine, who tells Jerry Maguire, “There is a sensitivity thing that some people have, I don’t have it.” Or poor Duckface (Anna Chancellor) of “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” who explains to Hugh Grant’s Charles exactly what’s wrong with him, interests him only when unavailable and then loses him, at the altar, to Andie MacDowell’s airy Carrie.
Undergirding these characters, almost all of them created by men, is a troubling male fantasy, that the ideal woman will depend on a man almost entirely, but ask nothing from him and that women who do ask are too much trouble. Who decided that women who know what they want and ask for it are monsters and that men who don’t know and don’t ask are simps? Clichés like these efface the complications of real relationships. Sometimes we leave nice people. Sometimes nice people leave us. And maybe assertive, uptight women don’t even need a man to live happily ever after. But if they want one, they should get him.
In fairness, Nancy in “Enchanted” gets her own happy ending. Giselle reunites with her former true love, Prince Edward (James Marsden). But Edward cools on her when she starts asking for high-maintenance, real-world stuff, like a date. Later, after Giselle and Robert run off together, Edward meets Nancy. Too overwhelmed to make any demands, she follows him to fairyland and they marry immediately, before they can really get to know each other or discuss their parenting philosophies. Because that’s true love. Can’t wait to see how they divide housework.
“Enchanted” is available to rent or buy on Amazon, FandangoNow, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube; “The Sound of Music” is available to stream on Disney Plus or to rent or buy on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube; and “Working Girl” is available to stream on HBO Now, or rent or buy on FandangoNow, iTunes, Vudu and YouTube.