Like the Hero’s Journey, the Heroine’s Journey was designed to be moved, morphed and altered to represent the diverse experiences of women.
While no formula is perfect, many romantic comedies have-directly or indirectly-developed plot structures that align with the Heroine’s Journey. The beats can be found across several genre classics and new releases. Films like Judd Apatow’s Bridesmaids (2011) and Trainwreck (2015) begin with the heroine at ‘rock bottom’-whether she perceives it as rock bottom or not. In the Heroine’s Journey, the heroine has embraced the masculine to succeed, and the beginning of the film starts with the start of her downfall. Annie’s grief in losing her bakery business, boyfriend and perceived future is explored through her constant rejection of the ‘feminine’-the offer and continual rejection of female friendship by Helen (Rose Byrne) and Megan (Melissa McCarthy). After yet more self-sabotaging, Annie’s loss is manifested through the painstaking process of creating a simple, ornate cupcake, which she eats alone in her mother’s kitchen.
Together the scenes show both the deep trauma the loss of the bakery has had on Annie’s life and identity, and also the debilitating impact her depression has on her ability to get her life back together. I love this film as a representation of loss and grief in romantic comedy because love-interest Nathan (Chris O’Dowd), while a wonderful partner, isn’t the hero, or even a hero figure; to me, the real hero of Bridesmaids is Melissa McCartney’s character, Megan. It’s easy to see the character as simple comic relief, and McCartney is hilarious in this film, but Megan consistently tries to befriend Annie, empathises with her, and gives her the reality check she needs.