America Owes Monica Lewinsky an Apology

Source: Mark Seliger/Vanity Fair

When the Monica Lewinsky Scandal first came to light, I’d just turned ten. Aside from the traditional “birds and the bees” overview and Judy Blume’s “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,” my health education was relatively limited. (It’d be nearly two years before I fully grasped what those “relations” entailed.)

Since 1998, however, Ms. Lewinsky’s name has yet to escape the nation’s collective consciousness. As she wrote in her recent essay for Vanity Fair, “there has been at least one significant reference to that unfortunate spell in our history every day for the past 20 years.” Beyond the media’s fascination, Ms. Lewinsky’s image has also become ingrained in popular culture. One cannot watch 2008’s “Made of Honor” without being bombarded by countless beret-clad doppelgängers, after all, and the final season of “The Nanny” remains chock full of timely jabs that have retained their wit and relevance decades later.

But after 20 years of ridicule—in the midst of the #MeToo moment, no less—we must ask ourselves one seemingly simple question: Should Ms. Lewinsky still “own” the scandal?

Although Ms. Lewinsky might be the most notable, she was by no means former president Bill Clinton’s only alleged extramarital affair. Yet, because she was 27 years his junior at the time of the given sexual encounters, she was the most salacious, and therefore, the prime target during the subsequent inquiries into Mr. Clinton’s lies and infidelities. Thus, we watched as Ms. Lewinsky was dragged through the proverbial mud, her life upended indefinitely in an effort to uncover the sordid truth about the most powerful man in America.

In an earlier essay for Vanity Fair, Ms. Lewinsky emphasized that, although the relationship wasn’t abusive in the sexual sense, there was an abuse of power at play in the years following the affair.

“Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship,” Ms. Lewinsky wrote. “Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.”

While Ms. Lewinsky explicitly addressed her detractors in her latest essay, noting that none of her recent realizations absolve her of her responsibility for what happened—“I meet Regret every day,” she wrote—#MeToo and Time’s Up helped her understand that there was much more at play, and that the subsequent bullying and slut-shaming she’s endured was unwarranted and unjust. She was forced to bear the brunt of the blame, forever changed, while Mr. Clinton emerged relatively unscathed as a result of the latent misogyny that’s only recently received widespread exposure and condemnation in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein reckoning.

Source: Associated Press

Women are all too accustomed to being held accountable for men’s actions. Ms. Lewinsky, for instance, isn’t the only one who’s had to pay for Mr. Clinton’s sins. His wife, former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, has fallen victim to this tendency repeatedly throughout her career. Most notably, shortly before the 2016 presidential election, Mrs. Clinton’s Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, invited numerous women who’ve accused Mr. Clinton of sexual misconduct in the past to speak out against Mrs. Clinton in an effort to discredit her leadership potential. Despite being accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than a dozen women himself, Mr. Trump thought it smart strategy to dredge up Mr. Clinton’s past to damage Mrs. Clinton’s future.

Although many might think society has matured, when husbands stray, critics still reflexively chastise the wife for failing to fulfill her “duties.” Instead of portraying the husband as the cheater he is, outsiders attack the wife—a victim in her own right—by blaming her alleged “prudish” nature for his adulterous ways.

But women aren’t merely “stiffs” or “temptresses.”

We are more than vessels for pleasure and progeny.

We are individuals who exist separate from our relation to men.

Honestly, the dynamic between men and women over time seems inherently contradictory and hypocritical. While many lawmakers believe our gender cannot make informed decisions about medical and reproductive care, they’re the first to deem us responsible for the illicit “reproductive” activities of the men in our lives.

In her essay, Ms. Lewinsky also mentions her post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis. Yes, even now, the activist—who’s made it her mission to address and prevent the very sort of bullying she experienced—still struggles with the anguish of being publicly outed and ostracized all these years later. As she wrote, Ms. Lewinsky often jokes that her tombstone will read MUTATIS MUTANDIS: “With Changes Being Made.”

Yet, if Ms. Lewinsky’s writing her own narrative now, chapter-by-chapter, then America must pen an apologetic preface. We botched the editing process the first time around, but we have the opportunity to make corrections moving forward. We can’t erase the pain caused in the past, but we can convey our remorse by making sure that no woman has to suffer such prolonged scrutiny. Let’s put an end to the #MeToo movement once and for all by ensuring no woman ever has to say “me, too” again.

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Why Aren’t Women Allowed to Age On-Screen?

Source: IMDb

When Nicole Kidman accepted the SAG Award for her critically acclaimed turn in HBO’s “Big Little Lies” last January, the Oscar-winner and industry veteran praised her colleagues for instigating change, while also imploring those who run the studios to continue investing time and money in the stories of women who’ve reached middle age.

“[H]ow wonderful it is that our careers today can go beyond 40 years old because 20 years ago, we were pretty washed up by this stage in our lives. That’s not the case now,” she said. “We’ve proven — and these actresses and so many more are proving — that we are potent and powerful and viable. I just beg that the industry stays behind us because our stories are finally being told.”

“It’s only the beginning and I’m so proud to be part of a community that is instigating this change, but I implore the writers, directors, studios, and financiers to put passion and money behind our stories,” Kidman added. “We have proven we can do this. We can continue to do this, but only with the support of this industry and that money and passion.”

Yet, while prospects for women over age 40 have begun to expand, many face the same level of typecasting that’s come to define the maturing female’s career. While many are relegated to nothing more than supporting roles, others find themselves playing one-dimensional wives or mothers that contribute very little to the given film’s basic plot. Despite the fact that women — especially those with decades of life experience — are complicated, emotional, and endearing, these dynamic humans rarely star in stories of their own.

While marriage and motherhood might be part of the mature woman’s narrative, such factors often become the defining elements of the given character’s story. Judging by Hollywood’s vision, women lose their identities once they become wives and mothers. They’re devoid of any individuality and exist only to support the ambitions of their partner or child. If said woman hasn’t tied the knot or given birth, she’s portrayed as an outlier — a so-called “spinster” that’s fixated on snagging herself a husband and having a baby before her biological clock becomes a ticking time bomb that renders her undesirable by society’s standards.

Source: IMDb

Even though it’s 2018, for some reason we still assess a woman’s worth by whether or not she’s fulfilled her duty as the vessel for another life. And, if a woman has aged beyond her childbearing potential, she’s cast aside, essentially proving that society believes mature women aren’t “sexy” because the act of intercourse could never lead to new life. Thus, those women over 40 must maintain a certain aesthetic in an effort to retain this youthful appeal.

Men, of course, are allowed to age on-screen because, while actors are revered for the name they bring to the project in question, women are valued for their face, first and foremost. Only the beloved few — Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, and Judi Dench, for instance — have managed to overcome the age hurdle and find success on the other side. Even when men have lost that handsome, boyish appeal, they find new life, as male maturity often leads to more serious roles (although their love interests rarely age in unison). For men, their résumé sustains their reputation, while actresses are assessed by nothing more than their headshot.

Hollywood needs to stop fixating on sex appeal and start focusing on substance. Few films offer an intricate, complex look into the lives of mature women. For years, we’ve been forced to accept Hollywood’s caricature of the average woman, yet this trend has only hindered the way we perceive women in real life. We’ve been conditioned to expect wives and mothers to maintain a pristine exterior regardless of their actual age, which only contributes to the unrealistic beauty standards we must battle every day. Perhaps, if women on screen looked and behaved like the women we meet every day, we’d be more accepting and intrigued by those whose stories have yet to find an outlet. There’s so much untapped potential, after all, so let’s heed Kidman’s plea and put the passion where the people are.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Saturday Night Live Should Cut Ties With Alec Baldwin

Source: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Like your favorite bartender or local pizza joint, Alec Baldwin has become a Saturday night staple. His impersonation of Donald Trump earned him an almost-regular role on “Saturday Night Live” back in 2016, putting him at the center of the American zeitgeist, and making the sketch comedy program a must-see for NBC.

But all good things must eventually come to an end, especially when that “good thing” happens to be part of the problem.

If SNL hopes to maintain its credibility, the show must cut ties with Baldwin. While his impersonation has certainly become tired, adding little to the national conversation as of late, Baldwin himself has been more than vocal about his support for his friends and former collaborators—and alleged sexual predators—James Toback and Woody Allen.

Recently, Baldwin came under fire for his comments about Woody Allen and the sexual assault allegations brought on by his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow. Baldwin claimed that the accusations were “unfair and sad,” casting doubt on Farrow’s accusations—the very behaviors that discouraged women from coming forward about such violations well before the #MeToo Movement came to be.

“Woody Allen was investigated forensically by two states (NY and CT) and no charges were filed,” Baldwin tweeted in January 2018. “The renunciation of him and his work, no doubt, has some purpose. But it’s unfair and sad to me. I worked with [Woody Allen] 3 times and it was one of the privileges of my career.”

“Is it possible to support survivors of pedophilia and sexual assault/abuse and also believe that [Woody Allen] is innocent? I think so,” Baldwin added. “The intention is not to dismiss or ignore such complaints. But accusing [people] of such crimes should be treated carefully. On behalf of the victims, as well.”

Back in October 2017, when more than 300 women spoke out against Toback, Baldwin also went on the defensive, telling the Los Angeles that the allegations leveled against the famed director and screenwriter were “heartbreaking” despite the fact that he knew Toback was the kind who “hit on a lot of women in a very vague way.”

“Meaning that he had an appetite for going up to women and saying salacious and provocative things to them and introducing himself with his credentials and so forth and laying that on people to seduce them,” Baldwin said. “I never knew any details of what he did that was assault in nature, or rape in nature, or criminally actionable. Never, never, never.”

However, during this same interview, Baldwin went on to criticize the alleged actions of his alter ego. “On the record, there’s all kinds of evidence that Trump has behaved this way,” he said, “and he’s the President of the United States, and that being just one of the things that is horrifying people about Trump, his opinions, his behavior, his methodology and there’s nothing you can do about that.”

How can one man—a self-professed sexist, no less—shame one alleged abuser, while supporting two others?

After all, Baldwin admitted that he’s been guilty of sexism, too, voluntarily outing himself during an appearance at the Paley Center in November. (As if preemptively confessing your faults could make us forget about THAT voicemail…)

“From time to time, I’ve done what a lot of men do, which is… when you don’t treat women the same way you treat men. You don’t. I’m from a generation where you really don’t and I’d like that to change. I really would like that to change,” he said.

“I certainly have treated women in a very sexist way,” Baldwin confessed. “I’ve bullied women. I’ve overlooked women. I’ve underestimated women.” He also explained that the Weinstein reckoning was “a very eye-opening experience” for him personally.

“We’ve got to be vigilant in a new way to make sure that everybody is comfortable, and that we get the job done together that we’re there to do,” he added.

But, no matter what lengths Baldwin goes to in his effort to sugarcoat his previous indiscretions, the actor has been beyond forthcoming with his support of predators who deserve their own day of reckoning. His time on SNL has cast him as some sort of national treasure, making the show appear topical and relevant, all the while allowing its writers to fallback on the same old concept without acknowledging his glaring faults. Allowing Baldwin’s reign to continue aligns the show with his views, intentionally or not, adding an element of hypocrisy to every scathing remark he utters under the guise of Trump.

When it comes to sexual misconduct, you cannot pick and choose who gets the benefit of the doubt. Yes, some abuses are far more severe than others, but this does not negate the fact that each victim deserves to be heard and trusted. SNL can’t ridicule Donald Trump relentlessly without first taking stock of its own moral standing. Judging by the running commentary, it’s easy to conclude that the show serves as a platform for liberal ideas, but its reluctance to shake Baldwin says otherwise. Presidential jokes and skits are par for the course regardless of who’s in office, but did they really need to cast an actor who resembles Trump in both appearance AND ideology? If there’s anything the writers have learned from Trump’s example, it should be two simple words: You’re fired.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Will #MeToo Mark the End of Victim Blaming?

Source: Slate

Outsiders always criticize women who’ve been sexually abused. They wonder why victims don’t speak up sooner. They often chastise them for not fighting back. They accuse them of “asking for it” because their clothing or behavior might’ve been misleading. Regardless of the situation, society instinctively puts the onus on the abused because women are frequently forced to bear the blame for men’s faults.

But if there’s anything the public has learned from the case against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, it’s the fact that victim blaming silences even the brave few who try to expose such abuse in the moment.

From a distance, it’s easy for spectators to posit the obvious questions: Why was this abuse allowed to continue for decades? Why didn’t the victims tell their parents? Why wasn’t Nassar held accountable for his actions after the first accusations arose? But as his more than 150 victims have revealed, words often become lost in translation when those in power refuse to listen.

“When survivors came forward, adult after adult, many in positions of authority, protected you, telling each survivor it was OK, that you weren’t abusing them,” Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said to Nassar, who she says began abusing her when she was 15, while reading her impact statement in court. “In fact, many adults had you convince the survivors that they were being dramatic or were mistaken. This is like being violated all over again.”

ESPN’s Sarah Spain reiterated the sentiment, noting that many of Nassar’s victims could’ve been saved from his abuse had the people they trusted chosen to put their safety and well-being first. “If parents had believed their daughters, if coaches and administrators had taken seriously the complaints of their student-athletes, and if Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics had prioritized people over public reputation, humanity over a bottom line, morality over medals,” she wrote.

Extreme, but true, Nassar’s countless victims were led to believe something was wrong with them—that they were in the wrong for questioning his behavior— because the adults they trusted failed them in the worst way. They internalized the blame, effectively muzzling the aspiring athletes until the silence became deafening. Now, however, as these women and girls come together, all connected by an unspeakable, yet unbreakable, bond, their collective voice echoes well beyond the ears that refused to listen long ago.

While it might be too late to prevent the pain these survivors must live with for the rest of their lives, their words—especially at the height of the #MeToo Movement—will undoubtedly produce true change. These survivors now hold the power the adults once abused, and they won’t let go until they’ve righted the wrongs perpetrated by those they were told to trust. It’s unfortunate that these athletes had to suffer at the hands of someone as despicable and virulent as Nassar, but it’s their subsequent strength that will make all the difference for those who’ll follow in their footsteps.

Society has an undeniably daunting amount of work left to tackle, but each woman who speaks up against her attacker—each survivor who stands before the court to describe Nassar’s crimes—moves us one step closer to a world in which no sexual assault victim goes unheard. #MeToo has amplified those voices, which were once eclipsed by the status quo. In essence, it’s now “cool” to listen when women share their stories, so to speak.

But we can’t take this moment for granted. Predators will still attack the innocent. Victims will still shoulder the blame. Critics will still judge these situations from the outside looking in. Visibility doesn’t mean women no longer have to fear for their safety, but it does mean that these voices have a platform. These stories are no longer written off as fiction—they’re now treated as fact.

We can’t assume that this willingness to listen will become universal, as there are plenty of people who believe #MeToo is nothing more than some witch hunt. But we do know this—there’s hope. Hope that lasting change will come to pass. Hope that there will always be someone there to listen. Hope that, one day, women’s bodies will gain the respect they so obviously deserve. Until then, we’ll just have to keep speaking out against these cultural norms by repeating what so many have been saying all along: Me, too.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

William H. Macy Claims “It’s Hard to Be a Man” During the #MeToo Era

Source: John Salangsang/REX/Shutterstock (9327719c) 

With actress Kristen Bell at the helm and an endless parade of female presenters to follow her lead, the 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards was an undeniable tour de force for women throughout Hollywood. Once again, the #MeToo Movement and Time’s Up commanded much attention, calling upon those in positions of authority to speak out against the injustices women face across industries on a daily basis.

Yet, while women were using their time in the spotlight to advocate for one another, the men of Hollywood continued to stumble over their own tongues, much like they’ve done since this revolution began.

William H. Macy, in particular, took time to address #MeToo and Time’s Up backstage after winning the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy on Sunday night. According to Entertainment Weekly, the “Shameless” star told reporters that “it’s hard to be a man these days.”

“I think a lot of us feel like we’re under attack, and that we need to apologize, and perhaps we do, and perhaps we are,” he said. “But we’ll keep talking. To repeat, I’m blessed that I’m in this business.”

“We had a meeting, a bunch of guys got together, under the auspices of Time’s Up — and that’s good for men,” he added. “Men don’t talk enough. Men don’t talk to other men, and we talked. What the hell — a little bit can’t hurt you.”

While Macy’s remarks likely reflect the feelings of countless men throughout the entertainment industry, it’s interesting to watch men distort this moment in history—a moment dedicated to empowering and liberating women—and once again make everything all about them. Like Liam Neeson’s previous claim that #MeToo resembles an old-fashioned witch hunt, Macy believes men are under attack.

Well, if holding predators accountable for the crimes they’ve committed repeatedly over the years qualifies as an “attack” by today’s standard, then yes—we’re using our fighting words.

When men openly criticize the breadth of #MeToo, they must first consider the years of physical and emotional abuse women have endured at the hands of the men in power. Many men might feel slightly “on edge” or defensive right now. Perhaps they feel the need to sensor what they say or do in the presence of the opposing sex. Perhaps they are second-guessing every move they make, worried that it’ll be misinterpreted as something provocative or sexual. Perhaps they’re afraid to be alone with someone of the opposite gender for fear of the moment coming back to haunt them and ruin their careers.

Do these concerns ring any bells?

Except, if these men actually walked even just five feet in a woman’s shoes, they’d recognize that their discomfort will never measure up to the genuine horror women face every single day. Being cautious shouldn’t be seen as some sort of prison sentence, as these men should’ve been treating women with the dignity and respect we now demand all along. Men who’ve done nothing wrong shouldn’t feel as if #MeToo “attacks” their personal character if they’ve been treating women well right from the start.

If you haven’t done anything inappropriate, then #MeToo shouldn’t scare you into submission. If you haven’t enabled abusers to torment your female colleagues over the years by staying silent, there’s no reason you should feel compelled to hide in the shadows now.

Men have controlled the national dialogue without question until recently and, despite #MeToo’s widespread impact, these men still retain most of the power, so there’s very little sympathy to spare for their supposed struggle. If they still wish to be part of the conversation, however, they should heed Macy’s comments about how men rarely talk to one another. They could be powerful allies in this fight for equality, but few have yet to speak up in a constructive manner. Perhaps, if they stop focusing on how #MeToo might hurt them and instead, focus on how men can stop hurting women, society will soon improve for all, not just some.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Please Stop Assuming All Women Want To Procreate

Source: Pexels

When my former colleague became pregnant with her first child, she revealed that our health insurance provider filed maternity leave as short-term disability. Despite the fact that she was about to bring new life into this world—essentially the most able-bodied function of any such mammal that comes to mind—to the insurance company, she was handicapped for the foreseeable future. Handicapped! Paid leave debates have raged incessantly in recent years, for sure, but few discuss the methods used to secure such benefits in our current climate.

However, upon deeper consideration, such perceptions of new mothers seem right in line with how society treats women overall. For some reason, we’re regarded as weak creatures whose sole purpose on this planet revolves around perpetuating the species—a responsibility that requires the sort of strength no man can comprehend. By the time every woman reaches the age when most start families of their own, in society’s eye, we’ve merely transitioned from “boy crazy” to “baby crazy,” for our true aspirations are limited to mating and procreating only.

Except that’s entirely untrue. 

Countless women have little desire to pursue motherhood. Despite society’s assumption that unmarried, childless women are lonely or unfulfilled, many genuinely prefer this sort of lifestyle.

In an Op-Ed published by The Huffington Post, actress Jennifer Aniston specifically addressed the issue, as she’s likely the most famous victim of society’s tendency to shame women who refuse to adhere to the unwritten handbook that dictates how we should live our lives. For decades, Aniston has had her face plastered across tabloids, her life on display for all to see, as the public speculates whether this angle or that purchase indicates that she might be pregnant. 

Although Aniston rarely acknowledges said tabloid fodder, in this instance, she could not help but highlight that the sheer amount of resources spent on trying to uncover her supposed pregnancy “points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children.”

“We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child,” Aniston wrote. “We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone.”

“Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own “happily ever after” for ourselves.”

Source: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

But Aniston fails to recognize that, in many cases, people who swear by marriage and motherhood can’t fathom a world in which women opt out of this traditional path by their own volition. Women who have no use for these institutions must constantly justify their decisions, as if these choices are unnatural and embarrassing. Doing so almost feels like being the one non-Stepford wife in town—you are unwelcome and irrevocably misunderstood.

Collectively, we must allow people to live as they see fit, even if those choices aren’t what we’d choose for ourselves. Might those who don’t want children right now inevitably change their minds? Absolutely. If I were to meet someone whose genetic code seems worthy of reproduction, I’d certainly entertain the prospect, but I won’t fall to pieces if Prince Charming’s horse accidentally makes a wrong turn along the way.

To most, I’d likely be considered a spinster at the ripe, old age of 30 simply because I’m not married and I have no urge to walk down the aisle any time soon. Thus, in my lonely state, I’m left to listen to the ticking of my internal clock—the metronome that beats in rhythm with my waning childbearing potential.

Except there’s no time bomb, no sadness, no jealousy. In fact, I can’t help but wonder how many of the married couples I know will get divorced when they finally realize they subconsciously settled for the one they were with because it was a logistically appropriate time for them to start a family. Society might’ve paved one path, but no one said it was the only way to go. Find another route or blaze your own trail. Listen to what’s in your heart, not what’s been put in your head, as that’s the only surefire method for finding your way.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

With ‘Home Again,’ Hallie Meyers-Shyer Holds the Future of Rom-Coms In Her Hands

Source: Rob Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (9029834d)

When critics refer to films as “chick flicks” — the blatantly derogatory term used to describe romantic comedies — they do so as their way of diminishing these stories. For some reason, this typically female-driven genre warrants little respect from Hollywood, despite the fact that so many rom-com films go on to become classics.

Simply observe the average box office selection to recognize major studios prefer films that will generate big bucks during their opening weekend. Said films are often forgettable, and rarely withstand the test of time, but longevity isn’t necessary as long as the theaters are packed. Thankfully, however, every now and then, one of these supposedly sappy “flicks” slips through the cracks, providing audiences with an opportunity to escape the deluge of superhero sequels and lose themselves in the intoxicating drama of someone else’s love life.

“Home Again” jumps right into the middle of the story by introducing us to Alice (played by Reese Witherspoon), the newly separated mother-of-two on her 40th birthday. While questioning her move back to L.A. and what the future holds in store during this milestone year, Alice soon finds herself living with three young men who are determined to break into the film industry. Alice, her daughters, and the men—Harry, Teddy, and George—soon form an unexpected bond, creating an extended family filled with more love and support than those formed by blood.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

With the film’s unconventional premise in place, writer and director Hallie Meyers-Shyer was free to build characters that are both endearing and multi-dimensional. Meyers-Shyer also disregards the usual tropes and trappings of basic rom-coms, incorporating elements rarely found throughout the genre.

Alice’s relationship with Harry, for instance—a man more than 10 years her junior—turns the tables by acknowledging the age dynamic and flipping it on its head. Like men who date women outside their basic demographic, Alice was unapologetic and alive. Contrary to the stereotype, Alice wasn’t some sort of cougar out for young blood. She was genuinely attracted to Harry and she acted upon her impulses, as people often do. Meyers-Shyer paid special attention to the human element that drives all sorts of relationships, and seamlessly threaded the emotions and behaviors into every nook and cranny.

Beyond the sexual tension and romantic relationship between Alice and Harry (played by Pico Alexander), George’s bond with Isabel (played by Lola Flanery), Alice’s eldest daughter, exceeds expectations, as its innocence and simplicity truly captures the family element at the heart of this film. George (played by Jon Rudnitsky) isn’t the type of man we often see in such movies, but he offers a refreshing glimpse into the very sort of man every woman would love to know.

Source: The Times

Best of all, Meyers-Shyer doesn’t play down to her audience by manufacturing some forced happy ending. Alice and Harry do not magically reunite, and she ultimately asks her husband for a divorce—two factors that, in any other scenario, might lead to disappointment. But, when everyone gathers for dinner at the end, one can’t help but be slightly jealous.

Meyers-Shyer has set the precedent for a new kind of family and a new kind of rom-com. And, while she’s the offspring of the genre’s two most notable veterans, Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, it’s her own creative instinct that produced one of the best films of 2017 overall. What once seemed like a dying genre, rom-coms now have someone to birth the next generation of classic films.

Hollywood needs to invest more money in storytelling. Spectacle can only sustain the industry for so long, but stories, especially those written by women about women, never lose their appeal. Stories that honestly tap into the human experience reach beyond the generational divide, which begets the longevity that defines classic cinema. With Meyer-Shyer’s innate ability to create nuanced characters that speak to people at all stages of life, “Home Again” will surely be just the first film in an ever-growing catalog for the new director.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)