Shelf Love

She-Devil (1989): Who's Entitled To Be Selfish in Love & Life? (Whoa!mance spectacular)

Short Description

Mary Fisher lived in a palace by the sea, and like all romance novelists, just needs love to complete her idyllic rose-colored life. Too bad the man she wants is married to bored housewife Ruth, who embarks on a journey of revenge. But who is the titular She-Devil in this 1989 film starring Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr? What does this film imagine is worse than being a bored housewife? Whom do we root for, and who gets to be selfish in life and love? Morgan & Isabeau from Whoa!mance invite me to join them on a very special Whoanus spectacular.


crossover podcast, romance novelist representations, film discussion

Show Notes

Mary Fisher lived in a palace by the sea, and like all romance novelists, just needs love to complete her idyllic rose-colored life. Too bad the man she wants is married to bored housewife Ruth, who embarks on a journey of revenge. But who is the titular She-Devil in this 1989 film starring Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr? What does this film imagine is worse than being a bored housewife? Whom do we root for, and who gets to be selfish in life and love? Morgan & Isabeau from Whoa!mance invite me to join them on a very special Whoanus spectacular.



She-Devil - 1989 Film starring Meryl Streep as Mary Fisher, the romance novelist, and Roseanne Barr, as Ruth

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Guests: Whoa!mance (Morgan and Isabeau)

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Morgan & Isabeau joined me in episode 076 to discuss Strange Love by Ann Aguirre


Episode 089 to Problematize Romance


[Special Whoanus theme song: the music is incredibly awesome and ironic, and the lyrics are: Andrea: Are you ready to crack this nut wide open? Morgan & Isabeau: It's a whoanus! It's a whoanus! (Andrea: Shelf Love! Shelf Love!) Andrea- Hey guys, you mind if I jump in?]

Isabeau: [00:00:00] Welcome to this Whoanus. I am one of your co-hosts Isabeau.

Morgan: I'm your other cohost. My name is Morgan and this week we are joined by a very special guest, Andrea Martucci of Shelf Love fame.

Andrea Martucci: Oh, I'm just so happy to be here.

Morgan: you had that big sigh all save that for that. It's it's a Whoanus,

Andrea Martucci: It's a Whoanus. I'm just so excited to be in the presence of such amazing storied, long running podcasters, such as Morgan and Isabeau

Isabeau: Go

Morgan: It's true. Y'all are all our sons.

Isabeau: All of our juniors,

Morgan: So today, this week we are talking about a film. This is our second movie whoanus and in typical, whoamance fashion, it came out more than 30 years ago. And it is called She-Devil and it stars Meryl Streep, Roseanne Barr and Ed Begley Jr. I hope you all joined us for our live tweet of the screening with Andrea.

Although I know you all didn't because I was there.

Isabeau: It was a lot of fun though. We had a, we had a really good time on Twitter.

Andrea Martucci: it's good to have an assignment when you are watching a movie.

Morgan: yeah that's true. So for those of you who don't know why we would be covering She-Devil, one of the main characters, indeed, the main villainess is a romance novelist. I think we'll find through our discussion, a lot of ideas around romance novels and how readers are perceived and writers is central to this story.

So basically Roseanne portrays a woman named Ruth who is small and homely. And we know this because she has a very big mole on her face and a bad perm as Andrea pointed out to me. And she's a homemaker and her husband, Ed Begley Jr, is an accountant. And one fateful night, he meets Meryl Streep's character,


Isabeau: Fisher

Morgan: Fisher who is a very successful romance novelist, and they start an affair. And eventually Ed Begley leaves Ruth for Mary and, Ed Begley, I should say Bob, that's his character's name. He leaves his wife for Mary and his wife decides that she's going to commit her life to revenge. And so she drops the kid, kids off at their house, their two terrible children [00:03:00] and begins an elaborate journey of self discovery and vengeance against not only Bob, but also Mary.

Andrea Martucci: Very specifically by a list of Bob's assets that she one by one seeks to destroy and take away from him.

Morgan: Right. We talk about how romance novels are central to these ideas, but actually profession wise, accountancy is the underpinning structure of She-Devil because at one point, Bob yells at her like life is about, see, I've already forgotten the terms, assets and,

what's the opposite of assets?

Andrea Martucci: Liabilities. Assets and liabilities.

Morgan: Yes, exactly. And so she makes a list of his assets, which are family, career, and finally freedom.

Andrea Martucci: I think, was his house the first one actually?

Morgan: Yeah. House was the first one. Yeah. So one thing I learned, this movie, when it came out in 1989 was the second adaptation of a book, which the book is titled, I think, the life and loves of a She-Devil. And then the first adaptation was a BBC series, a mini series of the book. Some differences, Bob is called Bobbo in the original series and the novel. I want to start off with what were our assumptions going into this screening of She-Devil.

Isabeau: So I had some assumptions coming from 2021 specifically about Roseanne Barr and her character and Meryl Streep. Because I conveniently forgot how funny both of those women are. So that was one of my assumptions that like Meryl would be playing totally straight to Roseanne's like boarish and probably cringy comedy.

And that was immediately upended. Another assumption that I had was that the affair itself would take up more screen time in terms of the tension of the finding out and like then what happens and like the sadness that Ruth, Roseanne's character plays, and spend more time with the anxiety of the marriage breaking up.

I'm like, there's no time on that at all. It was just like immediately, like she knows, like in the first 10 minutes, and then she's like plan of action. And it was like, oh, this is actually really nice that like the immediate acceptance that Bob is a total asshole and that she needs to go on this journey to destroy him.

And Mary Fisher, I thought was like, oh man, a movie about infidelity that isn't about infidelity, what a treat.

Morgan: So I have two follow up questions. Was this your first time seeing She-Devil?

Isabeau: Yes, it was,

Morgan: And have you ever watched Roseanne's television series?

Isabeau: yes. We watched Roseanne the the TV show as a family.

Morgan: So when you were younger?

Isabeau: [00:06:00] When I was a kid, yeah.

Morgan: That's so interesting because I understand like the boarish assumption about Roseanne's character, because she's, I think, culturally ascribed that, whereas if you actually watch her television show, as an adult or having like our current cultural context, it seems less like that, which I think is why her, like political coming out was so disturbing.

Isabeau: Yeah for sure.

Morgan: to a lot of people.

What about you, Andrea? What were your assumptions coming into this screening?

Andrea Martucci: So I did see this at some point in the past. Could not tell you when, how old I was. I don't remember literally anything about it but I remembered that there was a romance novelist character, and I remembered a lot of, sort of like Roseanne's, Mary Fisher lived in a palace by the sea, like voiceover, for some reason I did remember that.

And I think that, now in 2021, in my position, as somebody who thinks a lot about romance, novels and romantic love and approaches media very differently, I think coming into this movie, maybe particularly because I'm interested in the idea of how a romance novelist would be portrayed from the public and or how the film would navigate around a character's identity as a romance novelist, I came in really focused on those aspects. And I think probably the first time I watched it, was much more interested in just like the fun of it. So this time around, seeing sort of the character sketches and being able to connect them to a larger, broader cultural context, not just from 1989, but the larger conversation over time about women who read romances and who romance novelists are.

And I think that what I had forgotten about, I keep expecting movies like this to say something interesting about love, or the nature of romantic love. And I definitely watched this like when I was like a teenager, like an unmarried person who was not in a relationship.

And now looking back on it, now, I'm like, this is a lot about institutions that surround the ideas of love and marriage and gender roles and how people based on their gender are supposed to act in relationships. And the characters, while characatures, are interesting characters, but also not very deep.

I'll be honest, I came in with an agenda but I think I was still a little bit surprised.

Morgan: Yeah. I had watched it when I was super young and so, like, my memories of it were colors and shapes basically, and they were mostly pink and that's unsurprising because pink is so prominent in this film and also it was my favorite color. So I'm sure I just idolized Mary Fisher when I watched it.

And I was a child, so I had no critical like a relationship with that. I was like, wow, that bubble bath is huge. Obviously she's a very good person to have such nice things. But [00:09:00] I came into this with the assumption that it was going to say a lot of disparaging stuff about romance novels, romance readers, because I think it is important to point out that Ruth is a romance reader.

She's a big Mary Fisher fan, in fact and that these are not like suggestively coded as romance novels, as we know them now, like there's clinch covers and the paperbacks are scattered all over her house, and so I thought it was going to be more about commentary on, or making a joke out of women's pleasure and women's striving. And I feel like that main assumption was very much upended in this screening.

Andrea Martucci: I think maybe it was like a lot more about women's labor

Morgan: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: I anticipated, and that feels very much like of the time. I feel like there was a lot of anxiety in 1989 around the idea of navigating like women finding meaning, like what did they find meaning in?

And a lot of the anxiety specifically around romance novels was, ascribing the readers as like bored Housewives who are unsatisfied in their relationship and longing for romance. And ruth's journey is really interesting. And I don't want to say what I wish this movie was, but I'm going to say it.

I wish this movie gave Ruth more pleasure out of the way her life changed from housewife, full-time caretaker to a job where she is a caretaker to a job in the office, from the suburbs to the big city where she has this evolution of kind of taking ownership of her life and coming into her own.

But I hate that it's driven by the need for revenge against her asshole ex-husband and she doesn't take any pleasure in it other than getting back at him.

Morgan: Yeah, it's a single-minded story that is centralizing revenge on a man Ruth would not have appended her life. If her life hadn't been up ended, like she would have continued down that path. I think.

Isabeau: And even the characterization of bored housewives as like the sole readers of romance was weird in the beginning because her voiceover is like, I love my husband. He's such a great accountant. I'm going to get dressed up and go to this fancy party for him. And we have this like awful embarrassing montage where she's like trying to get into a dress and go to the makeup counter.

And so even like the assertion that she's bored, like the film asserts that, but Ruth doesn't assert that. And so that conversation like that finding meaning is a deep problem. But the film itself is like already dealing on two levels with what a romance reader is. And I don't think it actually means bored.

I think board is a euphemism for something potentially worse.

Morgan: I think it's like unquestioning. Like I don't think she was bored. I think like this was the life set out before her. [00:12:00] And it's interesting because Mary Fisher on her external very much personifies, like the ideal feminine. She's thin, she's beautiful, she's like effortlessly wealthy in the way that I think a lot of us perceive romance novelists, such as Judith McNaught.

I, when I imagined Judith McNaught, I imagine effortlessly wealthy. I'm sure she works really hard, whatever, that's the cartoon in my mind. And I think like internally it turns out that she's actually like hyper ambitious, very much an aggressor in her own life story. Very sexualized.

Like it's not even a matter of like lady in the streets, freak in the sheets. I think she's fully embodied sexuality. She hires a man to keep him at her house to have sex with him we discover and she's Has like a really difficult relationship with her mother, which I think is one of those things that often is considered the anti-femme is if you like, can't connect with your own mother and and she's not a caretaker and she doesn't want to be, she has a lot of staff who take care of her in fact.

Whereas Ruth outwardly looks, dowdy, but is in fact a very apt homemaker and it isn't until things are ruptured that she does things like accidentally bakes the gerbil in the casserole, which I don't even think it was her fault, and like trips and falls and throws the crudite at her in-laws.

And I love that dinner party scene because his mother, so she's having a hosted dinner with her, in-laws knowing full well that her husband is having this affair, but she's in 10000% like Tammy Wynette mode. I'm just going to wait it out, I'm just going to be as good of a wife as possible and then he's going to realize the folly of his ways, which probably would have happened if he wasn't also creating an image. Like he had created an image of a family man, and I think Ruth actually believed into it. Like she was indoctrinated into that idea and he was leveraging it in order to have a very different lifestyle.

So this scene at the dinner party, his parents come and his mother is constantly standing up for her and she's like stop being so mean to her. Don't talk to her like that. She's very stressed. And in fact, his own father is like pretty passive, but also not ganging up on her. He is the only one who's attacking her. And I thought, that's when I started to get like a fizz in the back of my head that was like, I don't think this movie is what I thought it was, like, there's complex relationships happening here.

Andrea Martucci: And Morgan, what you said about Mary Fisher and kind of the construction of her character, I think it's really interesting, especially when it feels like Mary Fisher's whole persona is an act and a performance. And I think that not only do you get the sense early on that she [00:15:00] plays this sexual alluring oh me, I don't know how to balance a checkbook, as like a way to manipulate men, but also as a way to further her own ambition.

So you know exactly the things you pointed out and then it becomes super, super clear when later her character morphs from this low or middle brow cultural sort of caricature into the highbrow cultural caricature of the artiste who, who goes from wearing pink to wearing black. Who whose readers go from housewives and women to like old white men. And is it maybe speaking about just all of these as just performances that are hiding who people are?

I'll contradict myself. I don't think, Ruth was very earnest and not performing a role.

She was as, Isabeau I think you had said like the life that had been set out for her.

Isabeau: But, yeah, I agree. She was incredibly earnest and there is something conniving and manipulative about Mary Fisher. Although in the take down of her artifice when like Ruth delivers the children and the dog and then like suddenly her mother has to live with her because it's discovered that she's incontinent and can't be at the fancy slash terrible old folks' home.

Morgan, I'm glad that you brought up the dinner party with the in-laws cause I was really surprised that especially the mother-in-law was standing up for Ruth. And I thought that was really interesting. I think you're right to say that the dad was passive and then we get all this intense information while the gerbil has been stewed and the crudite's on the floor about the fact that Bob and Ruth became accidentally pregnant as teens and then had to have this shotgun wedding. And so there's all this other stuff that was baked into their relationship that Ruth I think was really working with and Bob clearly wasn't.

And so then when we get to the breakdown of the artifice of Mary Fisher's character, when especially her mother shows up and we find out that she gave a child up for adoption, which puts us into this space where it's like Ruth and Mary chose differently.

Morgan: Yeah.

Isabeau: And I know I'm supposed to think her mom is funny, what a terrible thing to tell People Magazine. Like the fact that People Magazine totally showed up felt very reminiscent of our conversation about Daniel Steele and like, and I was like, oh man, like the hits, just keep coming here. Like this film felt both very referential of Romancelandia in a way, but not like reverent.

Morgan: And to frame that for people who haven't seen the movie, her mother doesn't tell it like this, like rags to riches story. She's like, oh my God, she's always been a slut. Of course she writes sexy books. Like, she's always been horny as hell. When she was a teen, she got pregnant. She gave the baby up for adoption.

She has a son somewhere. We don't know.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And Isabeau, I want to come back to a comment that you just dropped in so casually, what is potentially worse than being a bored housewife?

Isabeau: A woman who gives up her baby and doesn't fulfill her purpose as vessel.[00:18:00]

Andrea Martucci: Ahhhhhh.

Morgan: I think it's being a wife. I think the movie is insinuating there's something worse than being a bored housewife. And I think it's being someone without purpose. That is, internal purpose, because Mary Fisher, her life derails, whenever she has to welcome in others. And that's when things start to fall apart for her. Ruth's life starts to get better when she starts, like, she's on this path of revenge and it's very single minded, but she also does things like, in her bid for revenge she starts doing altruistic things that are also pleasurable for her, like creating the soccer team at the assisted living facility and founding her own business with her new found best friend. And putting women in positions of power.

And there is a great moment that you tweeted about, Andrea, where she sets up one of her new employees. So she starts employment agency for women who are otherwise considered outcasts. And she does things like you should wear pussy bows. People will hire you if you wear pussy bows. So she changes their external appearance so they can get these jobs. And she gets this beautiful young woman a job with her husband in order to cause him to stray from Mary Fisher. But she does this great thing where she says, of course you should tell him you love him. Why would that scare any man away?

And Andrea, you pointed out you're like, this is both incredibly cruel, but also an incredibly important lesson. And like they stay friends and like co-conspirators, and they help reveal his illegal business dealings together, which is actually ultimately a benefit for Mary Fisher because it turns out he was also stealing from her.

And so this like sense of like internal path that is not predetermined. This is what I want, I want revenge eventually leads to her finding success and her finding fulfillment and her also being able to help others.

Andrea Martucci: I was so conflicted about what she was doing at the employment agency, because Morgan, I think you just said putting women in positions of power, but every role she was able to put a woman was some sort of subservient position in a hierarchy of power where they were able to use their role to manipulate situations to aid in Ruth's revenge but also, yes, there was kind of a good for the person in that position.

So there's one woman who comes to her agency and obviously has fairly low self-esteem like, this is all I'm good for is like being a housewife and that's my husband says. And then she gets a job as a clerk in a court, which helps Ruth, because then she can just, as a behind the scenes person, change which docket her ex, husband, her ex-husband's case gets assigned to from a judge who is essentially bought off, a white man, to a Black woman who is [00:21:00] like, uh, yeah, no, justice will be served today.

And in the case of the secretary that she assigns to work at Bob's company, on the one hand, yes. It's like she helps that young woman learn an important life lesson and maybe get better taste in men and learn something about if a man is scared by you professing your love, he's not interested in you for the right reasons. And if you want true love, which I think that character, she is a romantic person, but also it's all just a service to Ruth's needs.

And so I just, I felt really conflicted, I wanted to see Ruth, not just craftly pulling people's puppet strings, and doing these things and building these relationships really to help people, instead of, I felt like it was very transactional. Like she's pretending to care and pretending to help them and yes, maybe in the process helping them, but also underlying all of that, just for her goal.

Isabeau: I think the only part that I would push back on here is with Hooper because Hooper's transformation, who is also the principal from Kindergarten Cop and also the willow tree in Pocahontas, the Disney animated version. I love this actress and I don't know her name.

And so she's working at the elder care facility and she has $55,000, which I guess is a million dollars in 1989 money, it seems like a lot. Ruth is very impressed by this amount of money. And there's this scene that Morgan talked about in the Twitter conversation where they're just sharing these like beautiful cakes and there's this moment where Ruth is talking to Hooper about it's so important to enjoy your life. It's so important to take pleasure. And that is actually one of the only scenes of bodily pleasure in this film.

Like every other pleasure is the pleasure of schadenfreude. Every other pleasure is the pleasure of watching someone be torn apart. Like every other pleasure is like your plans coming into fruition.

But this is like one of those only moments where she's like Hoop, you got money, you need to spend it. We only get this one life. And then she's kicked out for giving the old folks caffeine pills and starting the soccer team. And then there's this beautiful scene where Hooper's chasing the bus with her little suitcase and she's like, Vesta Rose, don't leave me behind.

And then they start this company together. And Andrea, you said on Twitter, at the end, like where's Hoop. And I felt the exact same way because it felt like in that moment because I think you're right, this film seemed to be making a comparison between Ruth and Mary Fisher, that they were actually quite similar women.

And that when you bend your entire purpose to something external, either artifice or money, or in Ruth's case revenge, like you, you begin to lose sight of what's important or who's important or whatever. And Hoop was like a grounding force and kept Ruth on the side of like protagonist. And then to lose her was to lose this sort of [00:24:00] female empowerment like you can too conversation that had been baking. And yeah, I was like, I was sad to lose Hoop at the end, but I loved Hoop and I loved what she did for Ruth and I loved what Ruth did for Hoop.

Andrea Martucci: Linda Hunt

Isabeau: Linda Hunt. Thank you so much.

Morgan: I would never describe revenge as an external -revenge feels like a very personal pleasure to me. And I think I would also say like what they're doing, at Vesta Rose Employment Agency is taking people, Hoop worked at this assisted care facility cause she couldn't get a job anywhere else because she was a weirdo.

And the whole point of Vesta Rose is to take weirdos or outcasts who are women and give them the tools to participate in the artifice of general culture so that they can then be inserted into the machine. But what Ruth is doing by inserting these women into the machine is helping to break the machine a little bit, right?

Like her husband has that really expensive lawyer who got his job because his father was a really expensive lawyer and the way he's going to win the trial isn't by being good at being a lawyer, it's by paying off a judge, right? Who are, not paying off a judge, merely playing golf with a judge and she is able to, I think, by like setting out to destroy one, man, she is in fact rupturing the system that has protected that man for all this time. And so I think like sometimes selfish pursuits can be for the greater good. And while I will say revenge is a selfish pursuit, I think a woman like Ruth is very entitled to a selfish pursuit.

And I think what happens along the way, right? Is that she actually benefits people ultimately. She's using them, but I think no one is worse for wear at the end of it.

Andrea Martucci: Both of your points are really interesting because I loved Hooper and again, I know it's not in good form to be like, I wish there is this, but I feel like the movie would have been much stronger if they had brought Hooper back at the end and shown that their relationship was valuable to Ruth and that she was growing in a particular direction, but ending with essentially Ruth getting the satisfaction of seeing that all of these machinations have actually changed Bob into being a better person. I feel like centers it back on him instead of Ruth's personal growth and all the things she's achieved and all of, the good things she's done.

But I am, I am given pause at really the conversation about putting these, people who were outcasts in society and then putting them in these positions where they can start to break the system from within, because at this [00:27:00] time slash in this movie's universe, it's an employment agency, it's not chief executive talent finding organization. Like it would be unrealistic to be like, now I've placed, this woman who was a housewife in the role of chairman of the board or whatever. So thinking about it from that lens of you can play along with this shitty system you're not fighting it head on, you're fighting it like from within, by just breaking down the systems that protect this structure, instead of like from afar, launching grenades at this terrible structure, just sending a bunch of beavers in to like gnaw away at the foundation.

Isabeau: It's sand in the gear.

Morgan: Yeah, she's in the employment agency specifically makes the point about we are going to make your soft skills as a woman profitable to you. So people get their job placements based on their home maker abilities. And I think it's more about cashing out, in the system, which in 1989, wasn't something that was like expected, right?

Isabeau: right. And I think also making female labor visible was a large part of the conversation around Vesta Rose. And I thought we talked about this on Twitter, Andrea, where it's I wonder if that conversation would play differently. And I'm like, I don't honestly think that it does because any time that I become aware of a homemaker versus quote unquote career mom conversation, like it's the same tire track.

Like it's just, women's labor is constantly made invisible. There's this wonderful book called Rage that came out in 2019 before the pandemic about this very thing. And so the project of making soft skills profitable of being able to market the labor and make visible the labor that women have been doing and then put it on a resume so that they can get the office job.

I think is, it was an interesting move for this movie to make, especially where we start with Ruth.

I want to go back to what you said, Morgan, about Ruth being entitled to selfishness, because I think that's a beautiful point. I think it's really right. But Mary Fisher is also selfish and not entitled to it.

And so I wanted to talk to both of you about who gets to be entitled to selfish stuff and like how, how does this movie make those decisions?

Morgan: I wrote a note on this. I was like, Mary Fisher, is like the pinnacle of femininity. And we're all supposed to like, read her as villainess because she's too good at femininity, ultimately, but then the parts of femininity that she blows it at are the subservient parts and that's how we know she's bad. Like she, sure she's beautiful and she's well-dressed, and she's well-spoken, and she's thin, but she doesn't know how to do laundry. So what good is Mary Fisher ultimately to someone like Bob, right? What good is Mary Fisher ultimately to society?

Whereas, meanwhile, intercut, we [00:30:00] see Ruth being able to care for the elderly, inspire a friend to go on an adventure, fix up a like warehouse in the middle of the big city that's gone asunder, right? Like she is very good at labor. And I think it's the effortlessness of Mary Fisher that the film insinuates is her undoing, but it's like almost in bad faith to say something like that about someone like Mary Fisher. And that's when I started to be like, I don't know how this movie wants me to feel about what's going on.

Like these wonderful things that it's saying.

Andrea Martucci: That makes me think of the discourse of like romance novels in here. Because everything you just said Morgan, and Isabeau, this is an amazing question to ask, because I think that Ruth character is sort of constructed like she's the "good" housewife who cares for her children and cares for her home and her husband but she's actually not that interested in being a mother and uses her children as winning the war, but also given the way her children are, I'm not insinuating that children with behavior issues are a direct result of the mother, but like the children are kind of jerks and she seems disinterested in parenting and lending emotional support to them.

And again, like I'm not faulting her for that, but it really challenges the assumption of her as someone deeply invested in parenting as a role and I think it's because it's around that like artifice, where she starts as earnest and she is really trying. And I think that narratively sets us up as the audience to be like, she is downtrodden and she deserves something good for herself.

And then Morgan, all the things you were talking about with Mary's, she's obviously scheming and she has ambition and she's manipulative and she's not good at this domestic labor and actual caretaking and all of that, like all of that.

Mary's character was really importantly about the artifice of love and sort of like this artificial construction of not just like femininity and success and wealth and all of that, but also that she's chasing this artificial idea about what relationships are and what love should look like and romance.

Morgan: Oh my God. This just sparked, we've been talking about how Mary Fisher and Ruth are the same women, but I think maybe even their trajectories are the same. And Mary is going through a really painful transition process because of what Ruth has putting her through to be frank, and Ruth is going through a more generative one, but a growth process, nonetheless.

And so I think about like where they start and we talk about how Mary Fisher's all about artifice and how Ruth's kids suck. Maybe this movie is saying, Ruth is wrong. Like she is earnestly pursuing this ideal housewife, but clearly it's not working out because her [00:33:00] kids fucking suck. And meanwhile, when her daughter goes to live with Mary there's, all these background scenes of her young child being groomed by men, right?

There's the like photographer telling her to take off her, like in the background, there's a part where the Butler is dancing with her the minute Mary leaves and seductively.

Isabeau: Very sexily.


Not good.

It's like that's a 14 year old kid.

Morgan: Yeah. And then at the end of the movie, the daughter is actually being like, we don't know whether or not the cookies are actually good. And I don't even think Bob is a good person. He doesn't seem different than what he was before. He fucked up the lasagna and now another coworker has to clean up his mess right. In the prison mess hall, spoiler alert. And then he's like, I made these cookies and you can see as kids being like, I can't tell they're like, sphinxes, I think the cookies are bad.

And I think it matters that the cookies are bad and the kids are now like, oh, these are great dad. Like they're learning to be more genuine people now that the new Ruth, the fully formed Ruth is in the picture. Meanwhile, Mary, perhaps, she's also living her best life at the end. I don't think she's suffering for being a literary novelist.

Isabeau: Yeah. Like as a media darling and much beloved, even that interview with the whoever talk show person was like, you've made the switch from those clinch cover romances to this very hefty, smart sounding book. Tell me about that.

Andrea Martucci: Sally Jesse Raphael,

Morgan: Yeah I thought like the way they actually framed that, I was pretty surprised by, and I think this will get more into the theme of what our actual shows are. I was surprised by how respectfully romance novels were handled. I think like Isabeau was right. I think it does beg the question. What's worse than being a bored housewife. And it is being whatever Ruth is, which is a diligent house wife. a superficially diligent housewife.

But I think there's this part, where and you pointed this out, Andrea, it cuts from Bob and Mary about to make love for the first time in front of a roaring fire. And it cuts to Ruth in their shared bedroom. And she reads a fade to black, sexy and she gets frustrated and she slams the book shut and sets it down next to her. First of all, that's very clever editing. It's a very good joke for people who read romance. I don't know how conscientious it was, but it's not, like the joke about Ruth is actually her fatness and not her romance novel readership. And I think whenever Mary goes on Sally Jesse Raphael, I remember being struck by the fact that Sally Jesse Raphael did not assert that the literary novel was in any way like better or more important than her other work. She said, it's just a change and you've done really well. And you're going to reach a new audience, which is, I think can be vaguely coded, but I was surprised that there wasn't anything like [00:36:00] specifically disparaging about romance, novels.

Isabeau: I think that's interesting because I think you're right. There's nothing specifically disparaging about romance novels, but like Mary Fisher is made to be ridiculous, so that there's something deep in there about romance authors and Ruth is also ridiculous at the beginning, so there's something in there about romance readers.

So like the commercial enterprise itself, the product, Fine.

Morgan: Neutral.

Isabeau: the trappings of everything else? Not good.

Morgan: What people do with it, yeah.

Isabeau: Yeah. I think that's really an interesting take. Yeah.

Andrea, what do you think?

Andrea Martucci: Mary Fisher's character, which by the way, whoever was tweeting from the Whoamance account on whoa, love She-Devil hashtag and mentioned Mary “Fissure” marriage…

Morgan: that

Isabeau: That's Morgan.

Andrea Martucci: love it. Love it. I think that there's a lot of work going on around crafting the idea of what a romance novelist is like and the world that they live in.

And just think about who is she a pastiche of? If we think like 1989, like Danielle Steele, that there's a Jackie Collins reference at some point, it's that brand of romance novelist of the Mirage of a lifestyle where they're like method actors.

Morgan: Roger Ebert in his review of, She-Devil said that Meryl Streep's performance was as if Jackie Collins, Danielle Steele and Barbara Cartland were put in a trash compactor. I also think it's interesting because I feel like Roger Ebert hung out with all three of those people in real life.

Yeah. And I read someone else on Letterboxed did a review of this and they described Meryl Streep's performance, described her as the silky persona. And I was like, silky is exactly right. And she is doing just like her voice and her mannerisms are

Andrea Martucci: Mary

Morgan: yeah, it's entirely a pastiche of what you would imagine romance novelists to be.

And it reminded me, I found this old Life magazine article that did a profile on some really successful romance novelists in the early eighties. And they were all shot with these like very soft focus and they were like, Donna's favorite place to visit is Venice in the spring.

Andrea Martucci: Is this the one with the bonkers portraits?

Morgan: Yes. This is the one with the bonkers portraits. And then there's the one of Kathleen Woodiwiss where she's with her like big terrible son.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. And he's holding a leaf?

Morgan: Yes, yes. Yes.


Andrea Martucci: I've talked about this on the podcast before, I think specifically in the conversation with Steve Ammidown when we were talking about Where The Heart Roams, which is a documentary that was, I want to say 19 85, 86 ish of all these romance novelists, like getting together on a train and then ultimately yeah.

And then they go to this romance conference and there were a lot of things that were [00:39:00] echos in this film. They're almost contemporary in terms of like, when they were created. So like thinking about the documentary version of romance novelists and what personas they're creating and then how they're being portrayed in film that was super interesting.

In Where the Heart Roams, the authors spend a lot of time like musing on the nature of love and what men and women want and stuff. And I think that some of the things that Mary Fisher says in this movie to journalists, she gets a lot of the same questions about romance novels that are asked today and her answers are also very similar, which I found very interesting.

There's this one where the journalist from People Magazine, is obviously being like snooty and says something about some reviewers say this about romance and Mary Fisher's immediate comeback is, all those reviewers are men. So getting into that gender essentialism of romance as an industry and how that is both the defense and the assertion of its value and that's also not based in truth and I think that a lot of the assertions that romance novelists were putting forth in the eighties around what their books were doing are ultimately also very like gender essentialist about what men and women want in heterosexual relationships.

Morgan: Yeah. Like I always get nervous whenever people are like, if you want to be a better lover to a woman, as a man, you should read a romance novel. And I'm like maybe we should give him a shorter list. I feel like you cannot literalize desire in the way that like, and romance novels do not literalize desire.

It's fiction and it's fantastical. And I believe in things like escalation and whatever, but I also believe like people can have a flight of fancy and it doesn't have to be like, oh, you reading this book means you want this to happen to you. Like you would love to get kidnapped and raped by a pirate. It's like, no.

Isabeau: No, that's not what

Morgan: Not what I'm looking for. But there's also this point when Bob first meets Mary and he's at his work function and he tells his boss like, oh, I just met Mary Fisher and I think I might be her accountant and the guy was like, oh, what kind of assets are those? And he says something like astronomical.

And I'm picturing Judith McNaught walking her dog out of the window of her Jaguar. And something fantastical and his boss is like, oh, I suppose people do buy those romance novels. And Bob says, yes, women do, as if like women are a sub category of people. Yeah. Of consumer. And it also belies the fact that these men, Bob, who represents pretty much all men in this movie do not take into consideration women as a factor. And that's why he's never like suspicious of his wife actually leaving him. And in fact, she burns down his house, and he's never suspicious of his secretary who he's fooling around with being able to, get him in [00:42:00] trouble. And he's never suspicious of the court stenographer and he's never suspicious of the judge.

His like lack of awareness of women as people with agency is what extracts him from his assets, extracts his assets from him.

Andrea Martucci: Turns his assets into liabilities.

Morgan: There we go.

Andrea Martucci: So the book that this was based on was I believe written in 1983 by Fay Weldon who is British and Barbara Cartland is a much more relevant cultural touchpoint in the British romance space compared to American romance authors.

Fay Weldon felt that her original novel was much more about envy than revenge. And when I read the plot of the novel, it sounds different enough that I'm like, okay, I see where envy is much more there.

But I think the movie that we watched, which as you mentioned, was the second adaptation after the British series, I think it made it much more about revenge. And I would be super curious how much of the original text or the TV series dwelled and the capitalist language that I think the 1989 American film languishes in.

But I think that it definitely positions romance within the capitalist marketplace. I was tweeting about how all of the flirtation between Mary and Bob initially is encoded in language of a financial transaction and the whole framing of the film around assets and liabilities and him being an accountant, a counter of money, a manager of people's wealth essentially, or at least somebody who understands how people measure their wealth. And then Ruth moving from caretaker to somebody engaged in an employment agency, so literally managing how people do their work and talking about romance novels and novelists, it feels like it reduced romance novels and novelists to not only the consumer object, but speaking about its consumers as consumers and what use they get out of it and what use people have for romantic relationships?

It felt very,, I don't know if it's just the Reagan years, don't ask me when Reagan was president also, I don't know in the eighties at some point, it just , did it not feel like it asked every question like through that lens of capital and work and

Morgan: Also the culture wars are so like homemaker versus career woman, which is what the parallels of Ruth and Mary are.

Isabeau: But what I think makes this like a standout in terms of how it talks about romance as both the capitalist machine that it is, but also the product it is and the consumers who consume it, which makes it so different from Romancing The Stone. Also about a romance author who like has to undo an artifice and become more of who she actually is like, that film talked about readers, not [00:45:00] consumers like that film talked about her work as a creative, not her artifice in the same way, and also came out in the eighties and also is dealing with questions around like a woman's place in a man's place. So like the culture wars are all over both of these films, but like Andrea, to your point, like this is decidedly a conversation about capital and like how it's made and who's making it.

And as Morgan brought up earlier, like how you plug in and cash out as like these homemakers suddenly need to. But also, that's a conversation about like wealth generation in terms of like how people need to make money to survive. And I think, yeah, this is like naked in its discussion of the romance industry in a way that I was very surprised by.

Morgan: It's very aware of it.

Isabeau: very aware of it and takes it pretty neutrally, but does not take romance authors neutrally and does not take their readers neutrally. So it's weird to have this part of the sandwich be like capital, it's fine. And then have the other, like the bread of the sandwich, be like these people suck.

Morgan: I think, even thinking about like romance novels, we've read that were written during this time. There was this real, it's a given, like you're either a homemaker or you're a career gal. Or are you thinking about the movie, like Working Girl? Like she divests herself entirely of any kind of domesticity.

And I think this movie asserts homemakers and professional women are the same and they're doing the same thing and labor is labor, which feels remarkable, but also something that's incredibly buried in the conversation, but I think it is still present in the conversation of the film. And I do feel like it's intentional because there's a way more superficial version of this movie that could exist telling the same story.

Andrea Martucci: I'm so glad you brought up the comparison to Romancing The Stone because I listened to that episode and I was like, Hey, you guys, haven't done another, uh, movie episode and then invited myself to have a conversation with you. But, yes, there are a lot of comparisons there and they are from a similar era, but I think Romancing The Stone is like, so much more interested in, thinking about Joan Wilder as somebody who had sought her satisfaction in writing these books and then like becoming an actor and an active subject rather than a, just a a spinner of stories. She brought that into her real life.

And I think, maybe, Is the similarity in the conversation going from object to subject, which I think that very much is a theme of romance novels, like early bodice ripper, like seventies into eighties. When I go back and read them, there's so much of them where from my modern lens, I'm just like, oh my God this is not huge progress, but I'm like, okay, no, but it it was even just the assertion that [00:48:00] the women in these books compared to a lot of the mainstream books of the time, even if they were not as active as I want them to be were centered in the story and were making choices and were important in some way.

And it's interesting cause you were talking about the, like the pirate and being raped. And even when you think about like how in that era, how desire it could not come out and be that these women wanted sex and could enjoy sex. It still had to be like filtered through don't be grabby hands McGee, like trying to get your hands on sexual pleasure cause that makes you the bad kind of woman.

Morgan: Also, I think, I feel like they're in those kinds of romance novels up until really recently, I feel like part of it was punishing a woman for having an adventure, because I think Romancing the Stone really demonstrates that a lot of romance novels are actually like adventure books that have a romantic chain pulling the story along.

And I think it's really interesting that in Romancing the Stone, she essentially goes from a writer of romance novels to a heroine in a romance novel. Whereas in this movie, our author clearly thinks of herself as a heroine because she writes that book that's about being a homemaker and she has a whole chapter about doing laundry and what a revelation that is and she's told no, that's not interesting. We're not going to publish this. This is a bad book. What you've written here, that's about, a real life experience of an actual woman. Like the day to day, mundanity of femininity. And I think that's interesting that we go from in Romancing the Stone to take your mundane life and romanticize it to our author in She-Devil tries to romanticize the mundane of her life and is a failure because of it.

Isabeau: Punished for it.

Morgan: Yes.

Isabeau: Yeah, I think this movie is like fascinating. There's so many pieces of it. It's so much more than I ever thought it was going to be, which is, what a treat.


Morgan: I had this really hard time determining how this movie wanted me to feel about these things. And I think a lot of it had to do with my cultural context. I had some formative years in the culture wars, but I wasn't formed by the culture wars so much as I was formed by the Spice Girls.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. Oh my God. Yes.

Morgan: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Me too. Girl

Morgan: Yeah, exactly. It's like our reading of this movie is going to be tricky. And so I was like, I, I have no idea how to feel about it. I looked up the book on good reads and there is a remarkable number of people saying that this novel is a pretty extreme feminist novel. And they're, in fact, men who's reviewing it were like, as a man, I was uncomfortable reading this and it made me feel like I was crawling out of my skin. Yeah. Which I haven't read it, but sounds bitchin.

Um, And then I found out that the director of this movie was Susan Seidelmann, [00:51:00] who is best known for Desperately Seeking Susan, talking about parallel lives, we're all the same, but her arguably her most important film is called Smithereens. And she produced it independently in 1982. And it's considered kind of a cornerstone text of the riot girl movement that would come after and was very controversial for its, like, very punk rock depiction of femininity and aggression and bad feeling, being legitimized. It has a criterion release recently.

And when I found out that Seidelmann was the director, I was like, think, she, and I would have had similar worldviews if we had been born at similar times, and that made me feel. I try to take things like as the text themselves, but sometimes it's really hard with a mass release that had two really big stars because Roseanne Barr was a huge star at that point. She'd already released her memoirs and her television show. Meryl Streep already won an academy award. So like taking that into consideration, what it would mean to release, for Susan Seidelmann to make a movie with those two big stars in 1989, like how that needs to be cushioned or suggestion.

And so having that information made me way more comfortable, trusting my instincts on it and being like, I like this. So this feels good as opposed to being like I think this is like trying to like look under the rock for the grubs, which I didn't really want to do when I was watching it. Which speaks to how charming it is.

Isabeau: It's quite transporting.

Morgan: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And as you were saying that I think that the fact that we are sitting here in 2021 and being like, I don't know how I'm supposed to feel about this. And every time I think that the film is trying to position Ruth as the good guy and Mary as the bad guy and we're supposed to root for one over the other.

And then you really look under the hood and you're like actually, like there's a lot going on there. And I think even, when you think about the fact that Ruth's character is framed initially as monstrous, and yes there's a lot of fat jokes. Her weight is positioned as a problem. She has this giant visible mole on her face, which goes away at some

Isabeau: She gets it removed when she becomes the Vesta Rose Employment Agency. She wears a bandaid for two scenes.

Morgan: Oh,

Isabeau: removed.

Andrea Martucci: good close reading Isabeau.

Okay. And then she transforms herself from the dowdy clothing housewife with an unfashionably tight perm. This was my cultural clue. The desirable women in the film have looser, bigger waves. And by the end of the movie, she has looser waved hair is wearing, a more corporate attire that is more flattering on her.

She doesn't lose weight, her transformation. There are lots of markers of her transformation [00:54:00] where she goes from, I think, trying too hard to look a certain part to sort of coming into her own and not without artifice, getting a mole removed is not without like intervention.

But In thinking about like how in our present state with our sort of cultural context is like millennial white women, I want to come back to the Spice Girls because I do think it's really interesting where I think we're sort of like what kind of person, like what archetype is this person's supposed to be?

And I think that the characters are resisting that archetypicazation or something. And it made me think of something that I have not read more carefully at this point, I've started to, but Hiroki Azuma is a Japanese cultural critic who wrote this book called Otaku: Japan's Database Animals, and it's like postmodernism, but one of the things that he talks about is consumers becoming database animals, where we want to categorize characters that we encounter in pop culture.

So essentially like the boy band where he is the sweet one and he's the sporty one and the Spice Girls where they literally have defined characteristics that position them as you're this type of person, these are your interests, this is how you dress. And where the consumers get to decide, not only have I put you in place in my database of types of being or things that I find desirable, but then you choose a favorite. You align yourself, and they're all good. And I don't know how far afield I'm going from Hiroki Azuma's theories here, but they're all like desirable, but it's oh no, you get to choose. But you're choosing from the options. Yes. Yeah. But it's personalized. You get to feel like you're personalized personally choosing it's not a binary it's choose from all the wonderful options on the shelf.

Morgan: It reminds me of like peak Tumblr, which it's so funny on TikTok, you now see like people who weren't alive during peak Tumblr or not fully formed humans during peak Tumblr, like romanticizing it as like a nostalgia machine.

Isabeau: There was a lot of trash on Tumblr.

Morgan: That's what they're nostalgic for. They're like, wow, when the internet was fucking crazy, not like it is today. They're not wrong, but there was this like real project of creating identity for yourself as a way to make yourself legible to others and like a need to like my sexuality, I feel this and this. So the word for that is now this. And like we created culturally millennials, like an incredible, like expanse of labels, and I think to make ourselves as much as to like, feel like we belong to a community to also make ourselves legible to others.

Andrea Martucci: Craft that persona for others to consume.

Isabeau: Right. Like I'm a Ravenclaw, Sporty Spice, [00:57:00] pumpkin latte in the fall, blah, blah, blah.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And I think that it's interesting to think about this movie as these characters and the idea of who you're supposed to identify with is so murky, who is the, She-Devil as the whoamance Twitter so aptly questioned.

Is the true She-Devil of friendship is that, was that the, where we came to and I think that like we're like, there needs to be a clear hero. We need to understand why this person is worth rooting for and I think that like behind our questions, I think we're revealing our desire to essentially make this make sense in our cultural context.

Morgan: That's a really good point because we're right now sitting here, who is the She-Devil, but if you think about it, like Mary goes from one really specific archetype to another very specific archetype and both are dated almost.

Like when she's a romance novelist, she has this kind of Veronica Lake hair and she's wearing the, oh, what was that brand called? She's wearing like these gunnysacks off the shoulder dresses that are like evocative of the Edwardian era during the like Edwardian eighties Renaissance, which I think was tapering off in the late eighties. And then she becomes like all black, low pony, giant glasses, Gloria

Isabeau: Steinem.

Morgan: type.

Who I would argue is considered, the one we were supposed to root for, Ruth, is just a better version of herself. Like she's wearing a pantsuit and she has good hair now. And her ex-husband is like, I'd love to have dinner. And she's like, yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Maybe.

Morgan: yeah, exactly. Like she wins ultimately. Us. We're like, if you want to be like Gloria Steinem cosplay, novelist, like cool. That's groovy. Awesome. I'm glad you found yourself. But I think in the cultural context, that's actually saying look at this big fucking phony, who's still a big fucking phony. And at the end she like comes a light whenever that man gives her a compliment. And so I think she's the failure. Um, And Ruth who could not give a shit about what her ex-husband wants to say to her is the winner of the movie.

Would you rather live in a world that's, it's just a different way of sorting things, right? There's a winner and a loser in this movie as opposed to like different types. I wish we could just fix it. And like we could all just be self-expressive individuals.

Isabeau: Your comment, Morgan, when you said that I know what the culture wars are, but like I'm more informed by the Spice Girls. Like I think both that common is so good, but the thing that's so weird right now about being informed about the culture, rather than a participant, is that the culture, whereas they're reasserting themselves right now in our moment, in a way that feels like really terrible.

And that make this movie fresh in a way that I didn't expect. Makes [01:00:00] the eighties books that we read fresh in a way that I don't expect, especially as we are literally losing rights that were gained at the, in the seventies and eighties. And so I feel strangely ill-equipped by the categorization and Girl Power of Spice Girls, and I'm taking a lot from movies like She-Devil and books by Johanna Lindsey in the eighties. And I don't know if that's the thing that should be happening,

Morgan: Yeah. No, definitely not. I don't think we should repeat what we did last time, because, it, we've gotten back into the same. We've gotten back into the same swamp.

Um, so we should probably find a new map.

Isabeau: right. Which is, I think to your point about I wish I could fix it. Like I felt that one in my chest, like I wish I could fix it because Mary and Ruth are there on the exact same path. They just have different trappings. They make different choices, but ultimately like none of the choices there are good because they're all framed around men And men suck. And so I wish we could fix it.

Andrea Martucci: and I think that was the problem with the nineties girl power Spice Girl movement was that, I grew up thinking. And then quickly became educated on this, not being true, that like we did it. Like, we are proving that women have attained equality and women can do everything.

And I think that, that was like the mantra of nineties girlhood was the you can be president if you want to. Look how much progress we've made and look how far we've come and look how different things are. And then nothing has really changed. And I think almost part of why we find ourselves back where we were, was thinking we had solved it when any woman or person who was working at that time.

And it was maybe a more of a sentient adult than I was at the time. Maybe would have seen more clearly the fissures of that. Fissures. And then I discovered this in my own career, where despite the fact that it's like better understood in the workplace that men should not, and again, we know it doesn't not happen, but men should not make overt comments about a woman not be able to do something because she's a woman that just moves underground and I think that I, as I was in my career, had to come to terms with the fact that while everything is saying that it's all better now, that I was still suffering from the same biases that existed before.

It's just like now it was covert. And now I am questioning myself. And if that's what's really happening and was not as equipped, I think to deal with head-on what was going on. And I think, that as we start to like broaden what are the larger legal freedoms that people are losing around reproductive freedom.

It's because. I think we got like complacent in the culture speaking to this, being a problem of the past.

Morgan: I recently was reminded of a Andrea Dworkin quote where she said, "if we give up now, younger generations of women will [01:03:00] be told porn is good for them and they will believe it."

And it happened. Yeah. And And that's entirely right. Like we stopped to celebrate and we stopped lifting up the rock and looking underneath it.

And, do think with the me too movement, we're dragging to the surface things that happened behind closed doors, like sexual assault. But I think that's a lot easier to drag into the light than something like your male coworkers undermining you when you're not in the room with like little jokes about, I don't know what you're into.

Isabeau: Or even when you are in the room, oh, you've got better handwriting. Would you take the

meeting or hear a faster typer or whatever. It's that stuff still happens all the time.

Morgan: yeah,


Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I've been trying Not get to the end of conversations and feel like well, I guess we cracked that nut wide open, which was my joke for a really long time. And I both knew that I wasn't actually getting there, but also just like feeling vaguely self-satisfied that I think we really did something here.

And I think that, like this movie, I am really impressed by how much this movie has to really talk about and think about and what it says about then, what it says about now. There's so many questions there and I actually think maybe I'm coming to appreciate that this movie doesn't try to get to pat answers or pat conclusions.

And I think that's, like what we're talking about with stopping to celebrate and all of that is. Yeah. Guess what? Maybe this is maybe there isn't going to be a Terminus to borrow what Isabeau was talking about in our last conversation about problematizing romance is, we want the satisfaction of getting to a Terminus.

And I think that's a lot of what romance novels are about is feeling that satisfaction of friends, we did it, we tied up all the loose ends, all of Chechov's pinky rings that were introduced early on, and we can feel good about all of the emotional resolution that we've seen happen here today.

And it's like, oh, guess what? If we treat real life and real conflicts as something that's ever going to just get to this yay girl power. Now we can just go out into the desert and dance with like discs and wear our costumes, showing how free and independent we are as women. That guess what?

That's a music video. I'm talking about the Spice Girls, that's a music video representation of all the progress we've made. That's not real. And yes, stories need a beginning and end, but that's not how real life conflict is resolved.

Morgan: Yeah. I think it's really telling that the Rotten Tomatoes score for She-Devil is like two stars. And the letter boxed average score is like four.

Andrea Martucci: of 10

Morgan: No. Is is Letterbox out of 10.

Andrea Martucci: What's Letterbox. I don't even know what that is.

Morgan: Letterboxed is a place where it's a review gatherer, but it's [01:06:00] like independent. Like people just submit their personal, I watched this movie, here's my review of it. And they also create like affinity lists of movies that are pretty funny sometimes.

Andrea Martucci: Is it like good reads for movies?

Morgan: Yes, very much because it's also about collecting everything that consumed culturally and there's quite a bit of one-upmanship like someone was like, Paul Verhoeven has released a nun movie like a professional review of, it was like, this is like if Showgirls took place in a convent. So I can't fucking wait. But everyone on Letterbox was like, I went to an early screening, but Letterboxed it's out of four stars.

And I think like the fact that the movie She-Devil has a significantly better rating on Letterbox than it does on Rotten Tomatoes speaks to the fact that like younger group of consumers is seeing the value in it. And maybe She-Devil was like, radically ahead of its time.

Andrea Martucci: We can go with that. Yeah.

Not appreciated in the time it was made.

Morgan: a hundred percent. Yeah.

Isabeau: Yeah

Andrea Martucci: I think we cracked

Morgan: We did crack that wide open.

She-Devil, is it a whoa or no? It's a whoa.

Isabeau: it's a total whoa. Go watch it. You should

Morgan: you can watch it for free on YouTube.

Isabeau: You can watch it for free on YouTube with ads. You can pay $4 whole American dollars to rent it on Amazon prime.

Morgan: like a chump

Andrea Martucci: The good news is though is with 6% inflation this year, that's really like $3.50 in today's dollars.

Isabeau: It's true story. story.

Morgan: In 2020 money, it's $3.50

Isabeau: Money is not real anyway.

Morgan: I know I'm not an economist. I'm not an accountant. I've already forgotten assets and liabilities. No, I haven't.

Andrea, guys, any parting thoughts? My least favorite thing is when I'm done recording and I immediately think, " oh shit, I should've said that." So

Andrea Martucci: I did really enjoy this movie. I think that it was interesting on so many levels. Like it was visually interesting. The characters were interesting.

Morgan: the music was great.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, there was a lot going on. I liked it.

Morgan: it's a deep visual story. We've obviously gone over like stuff that's happening in the background of other scenes. So it's definitely worth like multiple rewatching things.

Andrea Martucci: and I think that as we, on our respective podcasts, spend a lot of time, like deep diving into a lot of other things that are like much deeper about these texts. I also think that this text, this movie, was meant to be enjoyed and there are so many pleasurable moments as somebody just escaping into this text.

I think that this film really understood like these fun things that we like to see. Like I love a building makeover montage, and like who doesn't love the the throwing the flyers from the top of a building. And there's a lot of just like fun, visually cathartic moments, narratively cathartic moments. It was just fun.

Morgan: It's got a lot of whimsy, which I wasn't [01:09:00] expecting and yeah, it's a wonderful movie for people who like movies, like me who have a really hard time finding criticism. You will also find a hard time finding criticism for this.

Andrea Martucci: Isabeau, what are your final thoughts?

Isabeau: I loved this conversation. I very much enjoyed this movie. And I think that if the thing that you walk away from is like both immerse yourself in this film, but resist pat answers. Like, That's a pretty good thing to leave this with.

Morgan: romance novels remain an evergreen way for us to access what it means to exist in femininity and womanhood in the world today. And this is another example of that. Like while romance novels, aren't this like huge set piece. They are the way in which our characters meet one another, both literally and figuratively.

Andrea Martucci: I'm glad we did this. Let's

Isabeau: Me too. Thank you so much for making this suggestion, Andrea, we had such a blast. Thank you for coming on and spending time with us.

Andrea Martucci: I love to spend time with you guys.

Morgan: Thank you so much for joining us, Andrea for getting us to watch a movie, twisting our arm and hanging out with us on a Saturday to talk about the movie. You're such a pleasure to talk with. How can people find you if they want to hear you talk more?

Andrea Martucci: First of all, thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk with two such luminous, intelligent people on a Saturday. Um, I mean, look, it's just always a pleasure to speak with you. You guys make me think about this stuff in different ways, because I'm just stuck in my own little subjective experience and I need help getting out of it. So such a pleasure. It was a great movie and it was an absolute delight all around. Thanks for having me.

Peeps can find me on the interwebs the post Tumblr web, as they, as it is known at ShelfLovePodcast.Com, where you can find all of the information about my episodes. Some blog posts and transcripts for episodes. Or your favorite podcatcher Shelf Love, two words, or on Twitter @ ShelfLovePod

Morgan: All right. With that. Loosen your she's.

Isabeau: never your devils.

Morgan: Muah


Andrea Martucci: Thank you so much for spending time with me today. If you enjoyed today's episode, please subscribe, rate, or review on your favorite podcast app or tell a friend. Check out ShelfLovePodcast.Com for transcripts and other resources.

If you want to join the conversation about the topics that we discuss on Shelf Love, I'd encourage you to check out Shelf Love's Patreon at Thank you to Shelf Love's $20 a month supporters: Gail, Copper Dog Books, Frederick Smith, and John Jacobson.

See your name listed as a Patreon supporter on the Shelf Love website [01:12:00] if you join at any level. That's's all for today. Thanks so much. Bye.