When Harry Met Sally... turned 25 years old last week, and on Reuters, Chloe Angyal is here to burst your nostalgia bubble: The movie "got it wrong," she writes. The film concludes that men and women can be "just friends" for a while, but that a truly platonic relationship between the sexes is ultimately unsustainable. Indeed, "like so many other Hollywood romantic comedies, the movie posits that friendship between men and women is a holding pattern en route to the most desirable kind of relationship they can have," i.e., one that involves sex, she writes. The problem? This type of mindset assumes that "spending time with women doesn’t really count unless you’re having sex with them, and ... a woman’s friendship is a consolation prize, with the first-place trophy being her body."
You might enjoy When Harry Met Sally...'s happy ending, when the two main characters finally realize they're meant for each other, romantically. But the first drafts of the script had them staying "just friends" instead, and Angyal wishes the filmmakers would have stuck with that. "When I’m watching their friendship, when I’m watching them advise and support each other, when Harry is being utterly honest with Sally because he isn’t trying to get her into bed, when Sally is being her quirky, table-pounding self, all I can think is: I’ll have what she’s having." That is a relationship, albeit without sex, worth rooting for. The movie's central question is whether men and women can really be friends. The answer is yes, "if men respect women as equals and not as possessors of a prize—sex—that men must wrest from them." Click for her full column.