Celebrating One-Note Men in Legally Blonde
Sophia Benoit in Conversation with Mychal Denzel Smith on the Open Form Podcast
Welcome to Open Form, a weekly film podcast hosted by award-winning writer Mychal Denzel Smith. Each week, a different author chooses a movie: a movie they love, a movie they hate, a movie they hate to love. Something nostalgic from their childhood. A brand-new obsession. Something they’ve been dying to talk about for ages and their friends are constantly annoyed by them bringing it up.
In this episode of Open Form, Mychal talks to Sophia Benoit (Well, This Is Exhausting) about the 2001 film Legally Blonde, directed by Robert Luketic and starring Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, and Jennifer Coolidge.
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From the episode:
Sophia Benoit: There’s very little growth in this movie from any male character. Even Luke Wilson’s character, Emmett, doesn’t really change or grow. He’s just a guy that happens to be around and is nice all the time to Elle. And I love that. He’s kind of flat, to be honest; he’s just there to encourage Elle, and she does her own pursuit. I don’t even think there’s that much depth to him. He’s just a kind guy, which is phenomenal. I don’t think that her character needs someone with a ton of depth. They’re probably going to be great together.
It’s one of the few examples where all of the female characters are so much more interesting than the male characters, and I think usually it’s the opposite. I loved the show New Girl a ton, but my biggest complaint was that Zooey Deschanel’s character was the least interesting character on that show. The other female lead, Cece, her character wasn’t that fascinating either. I felt like the three guys were so sharp and so interesting, and they got more interesting as the seasons went on. The female characters never really did.
I feel like this movie has the opposite going on. All of the male characters are kind of one note. They’re fine and they serve their role within the film, but it’s all to serve mainly Elle and then a little bit Paulette. You’ve got Paulette’s UPS guy—we don’t know anything about him other than he delivers packages. That’s all I need to know about that man! That’s great.
Mychal Denzel Smith: He delivers packages and bends over to give Paulette a show.
Sophia Benoit: The opposite movie, the male buddy comedy movie of especially the eighties and nineties, had so many characters where it was just like the woman of your dreams that we really want to date or lose our virginity to, who’s literally just a figurehead. We don’t hear her talk necessarily, or if we do, it’s a two-line moment. And that’s the UPS guy in this movie. It’s phenomenal. Again, it’s just such a celebration of one-note men in the background.
Sophia Benoit is a writer and comedian who grew up in Missouri and was correctly voted “Most Likely to Never Come Back.” She writes sex and relationship advice for Bustle and has had bylines in Allure, Refinery29, The Cut, The Guardian, and more. She writes an advice newsletter Here’s the Thing where she tries to get everyone to ask their crush out. Sophia lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend Dave, but usually only spouses make it into author bios, so forget about him.