The Great Lie of The Devil Wears Prada
Or: How All The People In Andy’s Personal Life Are Complete Assholes
This isn’t a revelation. I know. But I can’t watch The Devil Wears Prada any more times — and I want to, so badly — without making a record of how horrible the ultimate message of this movie is, which is that if you work hard and do your best and take your job seriously, all of your loved ones are justified in imposing their selfish priorities on you, and you’ll ultimately be wrong in the end if you chose to prioritize yourself. And you’ll have to apologize for being willing to grow and change your outlook on life.
The real villains in this movie are Andy’s friends and boyfriend. Not icy Miranda and Emily. Her coworkers don’t owe her a damn thing and expect her to do her job. That’s fine. Her friends owe her love and support during a challenging time in her life. But do they give that to her? NOPE! Well, they do when she’s giving them gifts. But as soon as her life is inconvenient for them they’re less keen on her lack of work life balance.
Apparently all of Andy’s friends moved to New York to just chill out and have time to focus on themselves, because, despite probably all being around 22–24, they all have time to bitch at Andy for not having any time at all. Not even her boyfriend, who would be working constant nights and weekends as a lowly line cook in a presumably nice New York restaurant, has any empathy for her situation. I guess Andy is the only girl in Manhattan who can’t manage it all and has to deprioritize things she actually enjoys so she can fully execute her professional duties. Because THAT IS NOT WHAT NEW YORK IS ABOUT AT ALL… ???? Okay.
This whole movie also takes place over the course of maybe half a year, which means her tried and true system of supporters caves on her almost immediately. Yeah, she does a few wack things, but nothing that couldn’t be addressed by an honest, mature conversation that stems from “We’re concerned about you,” instead of “You’re being a complete dick and we’re abandoning you.” If this movie is the best Andy’s loved ones can do, she’s better off with Emily and Miranda. (But aren’t we ALL better off with Emily and Miranda anyway?)
So here is a chronicle of all the times Andy’s most trusted people let her down throughout The Devil Wears Prada and made her feel like a bad person for treating her job with the respect and attention it requires. God, Andy, why do you have to become such a responsible and reliable employee?
Establishing The Character: Andy Is A Pretentious Brat Who Thinks She Is Better Than Fashion
This scene isn’t Andy’s best look, but obviously we have to establish her as a smug journalism major at the outset to give her a narrative arc. Here we see Andy lightly carousing with her friends and explaining that she just got a job at Runway magazine (re: Vogue) as an executive assistant to Editor in Chief Miranda Priestly (re: Anna Wintour). Her boyfriend [lovingly?] mocks her lack of fashion sense and her [maybe gay?] guy friend notes that Runway is a prestigious title and Priestly is a big deal.
Andy is admonishing the entire institution as frivolous. See, because she’s a journalist with integrity and probably fantasized about being a war correspondent, or something, when she was working on her navel-gazing thesis project. She’s generally being a brat, but whatever. She’s also probably like 23 so it’s fine.
Everyone is being generally agreeable about her new job at this early stage, and Andy leads everyone in a toast to “jobs that pay the rent!” and we move on.
The Scene In Which Nate Establishes He Will Do Nothing To Make Andy Feel Better About Her Job
Where Andy was being a brat in the previously outlined scene, she’s now graduated to full on bitch, whining to her boyfriend about how the Runway staffers act like they’re “curing cancer” when it’s all just fashion. That’s right, Andy. Just because your coworkers don’t share your priorities it means their value systems are inferior to yours. I’m sure their dismissiveness towards you has nothing to do with the fact that you’re unbearably smug and are looking down your nose at everyone for their frivolous pursuits. They are clearly the problem here, Andy. She just has to stick it out for a year, she says, and then she can move on to a grown up career.
And now let us pause to appreciate the “Pile of Stuff” scene, which sent Andy into her tailspin:
Beyond further preparing the audience for Andy’s eventual character development, this scene provides a crucial insight into her disposition and outlook on life. You’ll see here that her sweatshirt reads “Northwestern”, meaning she’s a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, meaning it’s 90% likely she’s a complete asshole of a person. Not everyone who goes to Medill is an asshole, but it’s damn close, as it is an institution that specializes in encouraging craven ambition among its students, and either forces onto or gently grooms into them a deep sense of entitlement. Now that we know the truth about Andy, it’s clear we can only expect so much.
So far her boyfriend, Nate, isn’t being a total dick about her job, but he’s also not being very supportive either. He’s certainly not trying to talk her out of acting like she’s better than one of the most established and influential magazines in the country, even if he’s not trying to tear it down with her. Not super impressive, Nate.
The Scene In Which Her Father Patronizes Her
It’s time for dinner with good old dad. Dad isn’t terribly unsupportive, but he doesn’t seem to understand what it is to be employed at an entry level in New York City as a nothing 23-ish-year-old. He says he and mom are worried because Andy’s pay is terrible (it surely is!) and they get e mails from her at 2 am and she’s still at work (because Miranda is probably traveling internationally all the time and that’s what assistants do). He also says she doesn’t write anything and then goes for the classic not-living-up-to-your-potential put down: “I’m just trying to understand why someone who gets accepted into Stanford Law turns it down to be a journalist, and now you’re not even doing that.” Andy tries to explain how many connections she’ll make and this job and says, “This is my break. This is my chance.”
She’s right. She WILL make connections at this job. Tons of them. And clearly she’s already decided she’s not going to law school, so how about you get over that one, dad? Surely it’s not helping your stressed, broke and over-worked daughter to be told she’s doing a job that’s beneath her. He gives her money and that is nice, but hopefully by the next time they have dinner he’ll be able to muster a little more encouragement and a little less over-the-top-of-the-glasses judgement.
The Scene In Which Andy’s “Friends” and Boyfriend Act Like They Don’t Also Live and Work In New York City
When you’ve watched The Devil Wears Prada about 20 times, this scene gets increasingly more infuriating every time, because you really get to see what a bunch of opportunistic dickheads Andy’s “friends” are. First they’re ecstatic to be getting Miranda Priestly hand-me-downs in the form of cosmetics and accessories, before they start behaving like a bunch of children and play keep-away with her phone when Miranda starts calling.
Like, what is that?! They flip out over their new swag and then immediately start mocking her for being dedicated to her job? After Andy gives people presents — that they love — she shows us she’s not just a spoiled brat by admitting, “It turns out there is more to Runway than just fancy purses.” But instead of being supportive and saying “I’m really glad you’re making the best of this situation and hitting your stride!” her boyfriend takes the asshole route and says, “Looks like someone’s been drinking the Kool-Aid.”
By “drinking the Kool-Aid” do you mean deciding to take pride in my work and actually investing myself in a job that could open a ton of doors for me in the future, Nate? Because if that’s what you mean, then you bet your fucking ass I’m drinking the Kool-Aid! Oh, hey, and when I walked up weren’t you giving a lecture about how to make French fries? Pretty sure that’s not curing cancer either, so why don’t you shove it up your ass.
Also why does everyone Andy hangs out with act like they don’t know what it takes to be an assistant to a high-powered businessperson in Manhattan? Did they move to New York for work-life balance? No. They didn’t. They moved to New York to be poor and stressed and overworked and underpaid just like Andy did, because if you’re not in finance that’s what everyone moves to New York for in their early 20s.
Your friends (and boyfriend) are a bunch of assholes, Andy, and the sooner you cut ties the better, because it only gets worse from here.
The Scene In Which Nate Wants Andy To Quit Her Job For Him (He doesn’t say that, but it’s for sure true.)
Andy has just suffered the major setback of not being able to get early editions of the Harry Potter books for Miranda’s twins. She’s sure she’s going to get fired, so she calls Nate to tell her she’s just going to quit first. For some reason, Nate, who seems to take his own career as an aspiring chef very seriously, says congratulations instead of encouraging her to stick it out for the year she said she’d give and to not be discouraged by a set back. He tells her she’s “free.”
Anyone who’s ever watched a needy, insecure boyfriend in action knows that he’s been dying for Andy to quit her job because it takes time away from him. He thinks he’s supporting her, but he’s actually just rooting for himself. Way to go, asshole. And also, you’re a line cook in a kitchen in New York. How are you getting off work before midnight ever?! No God damn way he ever beats Andy home at night, no matter how late her publishing job is keeping her. If anyone has reason to complain about an emotionally neglectful relationship, it’s Andy, but she seems to at least get that you have to put in the time when you’re a nobody at your job to create opportunities for yourself.
Nate, meanwhile, is just a child.
The Scene In Which Nate Is Disappointed In His Girlfriend For Not Giving Up
As we all know by now, Andy did NOT quit, as evidenced by the fact that she’s still doing homework for the Priestly twins in her apartment. Nate, for some reason, thinks he’s allowed to get mad at her for not quitting her job, instead of telling her he’s proud of her for sticking it out and finding a way to creatively problem solve. Still sticking to the line that you’ve got your girlfriend’s best interests at heart, Nate? Because we’re not buying it!
Andy reasonably responds by telling him, “It doesn’t make sense throwing away all those months of hard work.” Damn right it doesn’t make sense! But because Nate is mature he retorts with, “Your jobs sucks and your boss is a wacko. Whatever. It’s your job.” Again, let’s remember that Nate is a low level cook in a restaurant. His job also probably sucks, and his boss is also very likely a crazy person. Andy’s response to this is less encouraging. She says, “I’m still the same person I was. I still want the same things.” But you know what, Andy? Maybe you’re not the same person, and maybe you don’t want the same things, and that’s okay. You’re allowed to grow and evolve and realize that you were kind of an asshole at the start of this movie and you don’t have to be that person anymore. Maybe you’re getting better than you were, and this douche is holding you back.
Would that we could reach through the screen and shake this fear mentality right out of Andy. Would that we could…
The Scene Nate Kind Of Gets A Pass For
Nate gets a pass on this one, because missing your significant other’s birthday is pretty wack. He gets to be sad. But saying, “Don’t worry about it” even after he stayed up just to dramatically go to bed in front of her is a huge “worry about it” move. But this is also a challenging year for both of them and a hugely formative time in their professional lives. Nate needs to adjust his expectations during hell year and stop pouting so much.
Shake it off, Nate. She brought you a cupcake with a candle and that’s not nothing.
The Scene In Which Andy’s Bad Boyfriend Breaks Up With Her Because She Takes Her Job Seriously
Jesus Christ. This SCENE.
First, Andy has to face down Lily, who catches her making eyes at the sexy/smarmy writer, Simon. Lily, who loved Andy’s job when it got her free things, suddenly decides she doesn’t even know her friend anymore, “The Andy I know is madly in love with Nate, is always 5 minutes early and thinks Club Monaco is couture.” That last part is kind of bitchy and beside the point, but Lily goes on, “This person, this glamazon who skulks around in corners with some random hot fashion guy? I don’t get her.”
MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE YOU DON’T EVEN ASK ABOUT HER ANYMORE, LILY.
But the bullshit has only just begun to rain down on Andy, because then self-righteous Nate shows up to give her a hard time. He tells her that the old Andy would never have gone to Paris with Miranda over Emily, which is an insane thing to say considering Emily is literally in a hospital with something like a broken leg and CAN’T EVEN PHYSICALLY GO TO PARIS WITH MIRANDA. And since Miranda needs an assistant on the trip it is literally Andy’s job to go in Emily’s place. Why does no one get this? Why is Emily being physically unable to do her job Andy’s fault, and why is it turned into the ultimate litmus test to demonstrate what a whore Andy has become??
Instead of saying any of this to Nate, Andy just says she had “no choice”, which is true. She didn’t. Because it is 100% her job to fill in for the second assistant and make the trip, no matter how badly the first assistant wishes she could go. Nate, ever unimpressive, says, “That’s your answer for everything lately, like this job was forced on you, like you don’t make decisions yourself… I wouldn’t care if you were out there pole dancing all night if you did it with a little integrity. You used to say this was just a job. You used to make fun of the Runway girls! What happened? Now you’ve become one of them!”
So, wait, you liked your girlfriend better when she was a judgmental bitch?! How is shit talking your job and all the people who work there and not being proficient at your duties a demonstration of INTEGRITY?! From where we’re sitting, Andy is actually a better person to be around now that she was before. And when you’re someone’s assistant you DON’T have a choice. Miranda didn’t ask Andy to kill anyone or do anything illegal, which means it is actually definitely her job to do whatever her boss asks her to do… otherwise she isn’t DOING HER JOB. I don’t suppose Nate tells the chef in his kitchen he won’t cook a chicken dish because meat is murder. No, of course he doesn’t, because it’s his job to cook whatever chef says, otherwise he would GET FIRED.
But instead of setting Nate straight, Andy foolishly tries to say “that’s absurd”. So he tells her to just admit that she’s lost all her dignity before saying they should take a break because they clearly have nothing in common anymore. Andy could say 1,000 things to defend herself in this moment and she would be in the right. But instead she just stares at him all moon-faced before Miranda starts calling. Nate thinks he’s being insightful when he tells her, “You know in case you were wondering, the person who’s calls you always take, that’s the relationship you’re in. I hope you two are very happy together.”
We have fully established at this point what being someone’s assistant entails, and we have fully established that Nate doesn’t understand those job requirements at all. In other words, we have established that Nate is full of shit and Andy is basically letting herself be guilt tripped by an idiot. All either of them had to do was be patient for a year while Andy did this job, and if they’re breaking apart like this after just a few months this couple was doomed before the movie even began.
The Scene In Which Andy Comes Back Graveling To Her Childish Boyfriend
This is, by far, the worst scene in all of The Devil Wears Prada, because Andy meets up with Nate so she can apologize and say he was right “about everything.” Near as we can tell, he was really only right about the birthday situation.
She says, “ I turned my back on my friends and Emily and everything I believe in. But for what?” And he responds, “For shoes and shirts and jackets and belts.” WHAT?! How about for opportunity and career advancement and personal growth and realizing the world doesn’t operate in the exact way you want it to from your pretentious pedestal?! HOW ABOUT FOR ALL THAT, ANDY?! She is a definitively cooler person at the end of this movie than she was at the beginning, which means she probably wasn’t making every single wrong decision along the way, which is completely supported by…
The Scene In Which Andy Gets Another Job Thanks Entirely To Her Time Assisting Miranda Priestly
Andy is finally interviewing for a real journalism job at a paper that probably 5 neighborhoods read because it’s not The New York Times. Since Andy bailed on her last job after, like, no more than five or six months, her potential new editor says, “You were there for less than a year. What the hell kind of a blip is that.”
Yeah, Andy. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? She gives a sheepish little run down about how she learned a lot, and fortunately does NOT do what Nate would likely suggest, which would be to throw Miranda under the bus as some sort of monster and say she was so much better than the work she was doing so she had to quit to reclaim her integrity.
But then much to Andy’s surprise, it turns out Miranda has written her a “glowing” letter of recommendation. Hey, Andy. I think THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU MADE ALL THOSE COMPROMISES FOR. Now breakup with your boyfriend who is moving to Boston anyway because he’s not doing you any favors by being an emotionally unsupportive albatross. And don’t call your old friends back, either. Go have a nonexistent lunch with Emily instead.
But no matter what you do, remember…