As the worst summer of my life crept into the sudden autumn that befell New York City this year, I couldn’t help but wonder: What the fuck is the point of all this emotional devastation and clamor in my personal life if I can’t at least renovate my kitchen and fall in love with the architect who designs it?
After all, that’s what would be happening if my life were a Nancy Meyers movie, and goddamnit I wish my life were a Nancy Meyers movie. I would have a lot of white wine and homemade pies. Maybe I could have an already perfect, open floorplan kitchen that nonetheless isn’t my dream kitchen yet (can you tell how stuck I am on this particular subplot in It’s Complicated?) The kitchen, of course, is a metaphor for my life and the fact that I need to move forward without dwelling on the past, need to prioritize myself, need to return to those old dreams that fell to the side when life got in the way.
Nancy Meyers makes beautiful, indulgent romantic comedies about beautiful straight white people and their straight white people problems. Everyone has a sprawling, naturally lit kitchen. Everyone has a closet full of neutrals. She makes certified Mommi Porn. I am neither straight nor white nor does a single ray of natural light ever hit my shoebox of a kitchen that was carved into my Brooklyn apartment as an afterthought. Is that going to stop me from living my best Nancy Meyers life? From letting out the inner Connecticut divorcée within? Hell no! It’s time for a little healthy escapism. It’s time to don a chunky beach sweater, pour myself a glass or three of pinot grigio, and alternate between laughing alone by the ocean while I think about heartbreak and staring contemplatively into the sunset while I think about heartbreak.
The chunky beach sweater is the little black dress of Nancy-Meyers-inspired Mommi fashion. It is essential; it is timeless. It is the perfect outfit to shrug on during a major life transition. Chunky beach sweaters say “fuck it.” Chunky beach sweaters say “I’m living.” There’s a lovely paradox when it comes to thick, shapeless winterwear on the beach.
Ultimately, Nancy Meyers movies speak to the universal experience of heartbreak, to the all-encompassing ripple effects of breakups, to the burden of exes. Like the recovery process after a breakup or divorce, Nancy Meyer’s movies last a little longer than expected. It’s Complicated is the extreme exception to the rule when it comes to my personal vendetta against rom-coms over 90 minutes long, because yeah, shit’s complicated! She knows she shouldn’t get back with her terrible ex, and she does it anyway, and it’s bad and it’s good and it makes her excited and it makes her hate herself.
There’s a lot, in a certain headspace, to connect with during these overlong, gorgeous, wish fulfillment rom-coms. Nancy’s characters get it. Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated, barely staving off a panic attack in the middle of her vegetable garden while her ex tries to convince her to get back together? SAME. Natasha Richardson in Parent Trap, stress-smoking cigarettes indoors while she tears through her closet packing for a trip halfway across the world to see an ex she hasn’t seen or heard from in over a decade? SAME.
And then there’s Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give, a playwright whose friends all call her strong and who nonetheless spends what feels like half the movie crying. Because sometimes heartbreak makes you not quite yourself. She wakes herself up crying, she writes through messy sobs — crying has essentially become a new hobby. “It’s my new thing,” she says. “I’ve gotten abnormally great at it.” Suffice it to say… I felt that.
But the other iconic image of Diane Keaton from the movie, other than her sobbing at her laptop, is of her laughing — whole-body laughing in her turtlenecked sweater by the beach.
edited by rachel.