Gilmore Girls Continues Tradition of On-Screen Female Reporters Dating Sources
The Internet's response to the release of the Gilmore Girls Netflix revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, has been somewhat less than kind. With headlines like the Washington Post's “Rory Gilmore Is a Monster,” it's clear that many are a little less than satisfied with the direction that series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has taken with the lives of the titular girls, Lorelai and daughter Rory. Lorelai is stuck in a rut following her father's death, arguing with her mother, Emily, and questioning her long-term relationship with Stars Hollow diner owner Luke, while Rory – well, Rory is sleeping with an engaged ex-boyfriend and sabotaging her journalism career.
Full disclosure: This reporter couldn't even finish A Year in the Life out of disappointment in Rory's professional and romantic choices, as well as the fact that Sherman-Palladino is evidently so clueless that she seems to think that a freelance reporter has the income to regularly jet off to London. But the real last straw was Rory's one-night stand with one of her sources for a story, a man in a Wookie costume. Because way too many female journalists in movies and TV shows date or sleep with their sources.
For some reason, films seem to struggle to portray female journalists accurately – in the real world, most of them tend to have a sense of both professionalism and ethics. Meaning that, among other things, they don't sleep with their sources. Until Spotlight, in which Rachel McAdams played Boston Globe journalist Sacha Pfeiffer as determined, resourceful and composed, the best cinematic role model for career-minded women reporters seemed to be Faye Dunaway's Diana Christensen in Network. And she had a man killed because his TV show got bad ratings.
Below, check out some of the other female journalists whose unrealistic and unethical romantic escapades have graced our screens.
There appear to be two main types of women journalists who get romantically involved with sources in the movies: The ones who are never chastised for dating their subjects, and the ones who openly trade sex for tips. Trainwreck looks at the former, as Amy Schumer's character sleeps with and eventually dates the subject of her magazine profile, played by Bill Hader. Of course, it's not like Schumer's first boss, a woman who's proudly burned away her morals through relentless self-tanning, would likely care – but one would hope that Vanity Fair, where Schumer's profile eventually lands, would maybe question how close the two's relationship really is.
House of Cards
And Kate Mara in House of Cards is the latter type of reporter, as she sleeps with Kevin Spacey in order to get insider info about what's really going on in Washington. “Feed me,” she demands after one of their meetings. House of Cards suggests that this is the way all female journalists get their political scoops, as Constance Zimmer's more senior journalist even tells Mara about how she used to “suck, screw and jerk anything that moved just to get a story.” Though Zimmer does add that it wasn't worth it, it's definitely more than a bit degrading to both women and reporters as a profession.
Never Been Kissed
Never Been Kissed is unrealistic on many, many levels. First, Drew Barrymore's boss makes her go undercover at a high school to expose what high school is like. No one wants to remember high school, much less read about it. (Okay, so Cameron Crowe did this in the '70s, but we got Fast Times at Ridgemont High out of it, which is basically all about how terrible high school is.) Second, no newspaper editor would publish an article that's basically an essay on Barrymore's unconsummated affair with a teacher – who thought she was legally a child the entire time he knew her – that ends with a plea for said teacher to publicly make out with her. Third, no one would have a career after doing this.
Thank You For Smoking
Katie Holmes's Washington reporter is yet another female journalist who sleeps with her sources for information, but she might be even worse than Kate Mara: At least Kevin Spacey knew he was being used, while Holmes doesn't actually tell Aaron Eckhart that she plans to use the career-ending secrets he told her about himself while they were in bed. Instead, she just goes ahead and publishes an exposé. Luckily, Holmes is punished for both her ethics breach and the nerve of having ambition by, nonsensically, being demoted to being a TV weather reporter, a job she seems to be in no way qualified for.
Okay, so maybe there are three types of female journalists in film, as Scarlett Johansson's wannabe reporter walks the line between the two categories when she starts dating Hugh Jackman. Jackman is not only the potential subject of her story, but a man Johansson believes to be a serial killer. (It's all right, though, because he turns out to have murdered only one person.) The dating is all part of the plan to unmask Jackman, an investigative tactic most editors would likely frown upon. On the other hand, at least Johansson doesn't fall in love with her subject and instantly give up her career goals, as many female reporters in romantic comedies do. (See Kate Hudson's character in How to Meet A Guy in 10 Days.) Instead, she publishes her story – again, no one seems to care that she was dating her subject for information – and likely embarks on an investigative career, which one hopes involves fewer articles where she goes on romantic weekends with her sources.
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