By Erin Clewell
I recently sat down again to watch one of my favorite guilty pleasures, The Devil Wears Prada, for the 16th time. The 2006 hit dramedy tells the story of an ambitious post-grad, Andrea Sachs, who comes to New York in hopes of becoming a journalist. Instead, she finds herself as assistant to the ruthless Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of the high fashion magazine, Runway. She decides to endure Miranda’s venomous comments for a year in order to meet professionals and gain connections for her future endeavors. Andrea is dowdy and sensible in dress, as opposed to her coworkers, who are clothed in couture head-to-toe. She seems out of place in the office and is ridiculed constantly by Miranda. However, with perseverance, dedication and a whole new wardrobe, Andrea ultimately succeeds in the cut-throat industry.
The film is sensational. Meryl Streep shines as the ultimate ruthless boss, Miranda Priestly. She nails the snarkiest comments and the most judgmental facial expressions. Anne Hathaway is convincing as the strong-willed and independent Andrea who succeeds in the industry despite the odds. Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt play noteworthy supporting roles as well. With the star-studded cast, the most decadent clothes and an equal mix of comedy and drama, this film knocks it out of the park-except for one glaring issue.
The unsupportive boyfriend is so twentieth century! Andrea’s job is obviously intense and time-consuming. Waking up at dawn, sprinting around the Big Apple and catering to Miranda’s every need becomes part of her daily routine. She transforms and matures into her position, especially in her appearance and her ability to relate to industry professionals. Despite her dedication to the job, Nate, her longtime boyfriend, decides to walk away from the relationship, adding several rude and degrading comments on his way out. While he is aware, not only of the importance of this position, but also its temporality, Nate cannot handle her drive to do well during the time she is at her job. While Andrea thrives in her career, her relationship does not.
Nate should encourage Andrea to escape her comfort zone and succeed, yet he takes the cliché route by implying that she has to choose between success and love. In the end, she quits her job and apologizes, even though he was the one who was visceral and overbearing. She also regresses physically; resorting to her past wardrobe and her appearance before the job at Runway. She relapses to the girl that he originally fell in love with. While the viewer realizes Andrea’s time at Runway was always going to be short-term, it is disappointing that Andrea is unable to make the decision to leave voluntarily. The impetus of being with her boyfriend affects her decision to abandon her job.
While The Devil Wears Prada is an overall entertaining film the misogynistic undertone of Andrea and Nate’s relationship is quite disappointing to the viewer; her newfound autonomy is frustratingly short-lived. While I always enjoy sitting down to watch the movie, this particular viewing left me a bit discouraged.