The truth gets a makeover

The truth gets a makeover

Shreya Shankar

Sometimes, critics get uglier than the truth


The New York Times calls it “another nail being driven into the coffin of the romantic comedy”; Rolling Stone calls it “sexist swill”; our very own El Estoque Online has declared it “ugly, [but] not the truth”. But why the hate?

No one complained much when “What Happens in Vegas”, “The Holiday”, and more recently, “He’s Just Not That Into You” featured gorgeous career women whose frosty exterior, workaholic habits, and Saran-wrap cling worked as Guy Repellent. No one bemoaned the fall of feminism when the protagonists of “The Women” found themselves pawns to their player men. No one was rioting when the prostitute played by Julia Roberts was patronized by Richard Gere’s wealthy businessman in “Pretty Woman”.

Hollywood has never been able to handle a happy, powerful career woman comfortable in her own skin, and that’s essentially what the romantic comedy genre has evolved to illustrate. As a result, women on the silver screen are often portrayed as insecure shrews, or insecure introverts, or insecure control freaks. It makes no sense for “The Ugly Truth” to take the blow for a genre’s treatment of women.

It is also imperative to remember that “The Ugly Truth” is wholly fiction. Should a character like Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler) exist in real life, the critics would do well to display some righteous outrage. But as of now Chadway remains merely a realistic-looking figment of screenwriter Nicole Eastman’s imagination and should be treated as such.

Most importantly, the ultimate message of “The Ugly Truth” is not at all a misogynistic one. It’s not the unrealistically perfect orthopedic surgeon Colin (Eric Winter) who Abby falls for, but the crude yet complex Chadway. There’s no misogyny there. If anything, it tells women to look beyond the pedigree and the six-pack. In light of the movie’s message, critics’ resentment of it seems a bit displaced.

However, there is one concession to be made: Abby is a travesty. She’s an exaggeration of every woman’s flaws, yet she plays on every woman’s narcissism by portraying the flaws in a lovable way. But the way I see it, it’s better to have a hyper-flawed but likable lead to aspire to than a perfect, prissy beauty queen.

Mike Chadway’s no ray of sunshine, but really, critics. Lighten up.




“The Ugly Truth” illustration of the different thinking patterns of men and women has critics peeved. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.