How Seth Rogen's Wife Fought Against the "Nagging Wife" Cliché
I’ve been a huge fan of Seth Rogen since his 2007 breakout hit Knocked Up, and though the film was entertaining and well cast, it was rightfully viewed as sexist. Leading actress Katherine Heigl faced backlash for condemning the movie’s crazy, nagging wife/girlfriend trope, and what audiences got in the years that followed were more comedies featuring insufferable killjoy ladies who just seemed to get in the way and rain on everyone’s parade. Who could forget abusive stalker Melissa in The Hangover or Sarah Silverman’s petulant, snarly girlfriend role in School of Rock?
Lauren Miller, star of underrated 2012 flick, For a Good Time Call, wanted to change the conversation for women with husband Seth Rogen’s new film Neighbors. In a new interview with Studio 360’s Kurt Anderson, Rogen reveals that Miller influenced him to alter the narrative of Rose Byrne’s character, who was originally written as a humorless, annoying wife.
“My wife read the script,” Rogen said. “She’s a writer. She’s one of the people who was like, ‘This isn’t how it would be. We get along, I want to have fun too…’ And then as we started talking about it, that actually became the most exciting idea of the movie to us. That we could portray a couple where the wife is just as fun-loving and irresponsible as the guy, and they get along really well. In a comedy, that’s almost non-existent. An actual healthy couple that really likes each other.”
As pointed out by the Huffington Post, the couple in Neighbors goes back and forth with pranks on their frat boy neighbors. Miller and Rogen sought to create a marriage between people who have adventures and exciting bonding experiences together just as they do in real life. Rogen doesn’t view her as his ball and chain stopping him from enjoying himself. Miller makes his world brighter, and he realized it’s important that he reflect this positive and fun relationship onscreen.
“Again, in movies they like to portray marriage like, ‘Oh the wife and husband are always arguing and bickering,'” Rogen continued. “For me and my wife … the easiest part of my life is my marriage. Like if everything was as smooth and easy and fun as my relationship with my wife then I would have a much easier time getting through the day. We really get along and we like the same stuff.”
Lets take a moment for a collective “aw.” Why aren’t there more Seth Rogens on earth, let alone in show business? Miller picked a good one, and she got him because she’s a catch herself.
Surely it can be awkward to work with one’s significant other, but Rogen and Miller seem to have a good system for that, and it’s awesome that they can engage in an open conversation to solve creative differences. He’s a great guy for incorporating her ideas into the finished product, and she’s fantastic for working to fight female stereotypes in film. Comedy isn’t the only genre trying to bring down the image of the wife, so we’ve still got a very long way to go, but the more women who push for dynamic and complex characters, the better we’ll be served on the big screen.
Cheers to Rogen and Miller, and go see For a Good Time, Call… if you haven’t. Miller is one of Hollywood’s hidden gems and I’d like to see a lot more of her.