By Emma Simonoff
I love romantic comedies with a passion, and one of the many things I love about them is their tropes. There are so many to choose from. Some of my favorites are “fake dating,” “secret identity” and, of course, “workaholic.”
Under the workaholic category of rom-coms, a young, beautiful woman is obsessed with her job, so much so that she is incapable of having a love life. Despite being a total catch, her drive seems to repel eligible men. The workaholic’s friend points out that she hasn’t gone on a second date in three years and hasn’t slept with anyone in five. The workaholic is in serious need of some fun.
No matter the job, whether she’s a journalist at a woman’s magazine like in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” a journalist at a tabloid like in “Hitch” or a journalist at another magazine like in “He’s Just Not That Into You,” this girl has one problem: she works too much.
Often, like in the 2010 Rachel McAdams flick “Morning Glory,” The workaholic gets some sort of promotion or big job that makes her work even more, making it extremely hard when she just happens to meet the perfect guy at or around her new job.
In “Morning Glory,” McAdams’ character, Becky, gets hired to produce a failing morning talk show and becomes determined to revive it. The show is on an NBC-esque news channel called “IBS.” At the IBS offices, Becky meets Adam, a handsome producer on a serious news show.
Becky struggles between saving the show and building a relationship with this guy she’s falling in love with. I won’t spoil the details, but let’s just say it ends like a rom-com should: she’s able to make both her career and her love life work.
Not to be all film major-y, but movies are a visual medium. Filmmakers love to find a way to physically encapsulate the way the protagonist has changed. It’s killing Jaws in “Jaws,” it’s the family dancing together in “Little Miss Sunshine,” it’s Al Pacino closing the door in “The Godfather.” And in “Morning Glory,” it’s McAdams putting her phone in the fridge.
I can picture the producers of “Morning Glory” in a conference room at a table full of empty Chinese take-out and pizza boxes — but not cocaine because this isn’t the ’80s — it’s 2010 and Barack Obama is president. They’ve been up all night trying to think of the perfect way to show Becky has changed, that little thing that will say, “Hey, you ladies, you can have it all.” And then, just as the sun is coming up, the smallest, most timid producer, the one who’s been quiet all night, stands up slowly and says it: she puts her phone in the fridge.
The producers cheer. It’s perfect, groundbreaking. It’s the moment they’ll show at the Oscars when they win it all. Becky’s problem is work and her cell phone represents her work. So putting her phone in the fridge is Becky separating her career and her love life. It shows that Becky has learned to do both. And so can you.
And that’s the message I want from the workaholic rom-com. I want to be told that like McAdams, I can have it all. I hope that one day, I’ll be able to put my phone in the fridge, too.