Lies About Journalism Told By Your Favourite Romantic Comedies

Honestly, How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days has a lot to answer for.

Rom Com Journalism Lies

by Guy Pewsey |
Updated on

When people ask me why I got into journalism, I often tell them that it's because I've always had a nose for stories, a love of writing, an innate desire to document the human experience. That's all a lie. I got into journalism because I spent much of my youth bombarded with incredibly seductive depictions of the field, primarily via the romantic comedies of the Nineties and Noughties. So imagine my surprise when I moved to the big city, a portfolio of student journalism under my arm, to discover that it's not how it looks in the movies and glossy US TV shows. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. 13 Going On 30. Never Been Kissed. The Devil Wears Prada. Sex And The City. They all present the industry through rose-tinted spectacles, at best suggesting that journalism is a sea of parties and champagne and, at worst, deceiving the young into thinking that the profession isn't riddled with insecurity and cruelty.

The hoodwinkery of it all is a trending topic on Twitter right now with the aforementioned Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway classics returning to Netflix. Naturally, those with experience in the industry can't but help pick apart (read: meme) the countless wild deceptions rom-coms sold us way back when.

And of course, there are many more - here are the biggest lies we've been told by some of our, admittedly, favourite films.

Journalism is financially rewarding

Sex And The City heroine Carrie Bradshaw had one column for a New York newspaper. Somehow, she rented a gorgeous Manhattan apartment, purchased hundreds of pairs of shoes, and wore couture in almost every single scene. She ate out constantly and was always in cabs. For the record, a weekly column in a newspaper will never provide enough money for this lifestyle. A journalist with one regular commission would live in a studio apartment in Queens with three friends and would live on noodles. Sure, as the series progresses she picks up additional incomes - she wrote occasional features for Vogue, found vague success with her books and, once, was left a wad of cash by a one night stand - but journalism does not make most people rich.

The writers eventually acknowledged the absurdity of Carrie's spending by discussing her debt, and her regret at spending so much money on shoes. 'I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoe', she cries. Honey, you're going to have to sell that shoe, too. Thinking of doing it for the money? Best get saving now.

If the work is hard, it's their fault, not yours

The Devil Wears Prada's Andy Sachs somehow gets a job as second assistant to the editor of Runway, a Vogue-esque magazine. First of all: as if. She then spends the whole film complaining, repeatedly suggesting that her boss is being unreasonable for calling her out of hours, demanding coffee and lunch, sending her on errands and caring too much about fashion, the industry she works in.

Journalism is hard. Magazine editors are busy and demanding. Andy's tale tells viewers that when it's too hot in the kitchen, you should complain and leave rather than adapt and thrive. She didn't deserve that job. All that talk about her boyfriend being the true villain of the piece is a lie: Andy Sachs is the villain of The Devil Wears Prada.

Journalists work on one assignment at a time

I love How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. Kate Hudson is a truly divine romantic lead and she brings charm, wit and a cheeky wink to her depiction of Andie Anderson, a journalist at a monthly women's magazine that has something of a Cosmo or Marie Claire feel. Despite lofty aspirations - she wants to write about politics, current affairs, religion - she is the title's How To girl, which leads to the commission of the title.

This story dominates her time. She spends the whole film working on it, and when she stops for breaks to lie on the roof or sip cocktails with her journo gal pals, it is clear that she does not have any other work to worry about: it is the sole commission. She is a full-time writer, with a staff job, researching and writing a single piece for the next month's issue. You see a similar set-up in Confessions Of A Shopaholic.

This doesn't happen. In real life, Andie would be juggling this piece with four or five other time-consuming responsibilities - at least - and would not be able to dedicate these ten days to seeing her target every single evening. Want to know how to lose a guy in ten days in real life? Cancel on the second date because you've got a phone interview scheduled for 8pm that's due on your editor's desk tomorrow lunchtime.

Positivity always wins out

Jennifer Garner is a joy in 13 Going On 30. When her teen self wakes up in the body of her future thirty-something, she discovers that she is a magazine editor (again, the monthly title is much like Cosmo or Marie Claire) with a reputation for being mean. With her childlike positive attitude, she fights to change that, wearing retro looks, dancing to Thriller at the magazine's big party and, at the end, pitching a new rebrand focused on real women, finding joy in nostalgia, embracing youth and difference. In real life, they'd have her sectioned.

Being editor of a magazine requires an alacrity for budgets, commercial deals, a thick skin and a willingness to make tough choices. She truly wouldn't last a day.

Undercover assignments are a thing

Sure, investigations with national repercussions or a major public interest may call for seasoned journalists to pretend to be someone they're not as part of a sting or undercover operation. But the process is not rife in features journalism. Sub editor Josie Geller - Never Been Kissed, we love you - would not be sent to a high school to pretend to be a teenager, just to see if something interesting happened. It's an ethical minefield, and many of the teenagers and teachers befriended by Josie in the name of journalism would have real grounds for legal complaints.

Besides, the newspaper would not be willing to dispense with their best sub-editor for, what, three months? For one feature? Please.

So there you have it. Journalism is full of surprises. There are thrills and spills. I am glad to be in this mercurial industry. But if you want to make it, you're going to need some new heroines. Trust me.


How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days Fashion

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1. The Working Girl Pencil Skirt

Have you ever seen a white shirt and grey pencil skirt look so good? Sure Kate/Andie has that slightly static, very 2003 I'm-still-using-my-water-filled-Babyliss-straighteners hair, but she WORKS IT. Is it the fit of her corporate crony attire that takes it from meh to magnifique? The giant Prada tote and Starbucks to-go cup she accessorises with? Or, just the fact that this is Kate Hudson and she'd look great in a Bloomingdales Big Brown Bag?

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2. The Bringing Sexy Back Dress

From the front, Andie's on-the-pull frock was a perfectly cute wraparound halter neck. It's so inoffensive it's practically work appropriate. But, when she turns to walk out of Ben's apartment, we see that Andie is indeed BRINGING SEXY BACK. A whole three years before Justin Timberlake did. Because Andie Anderson is a trendsetter, people.

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3. The Very Rachel Green Knicks Jersey

Was there a rule in the early Noughties that all female, New York-based TV and movie characters had to rep the Knicks? Because Andie Anderson looks all kinds of Rachel Green in her basketball jersey and, later in How To Lose A Guy, also sports a black Knicks hoodie. We're not complaining; she looks great, and it's nice to see a girlie character being represented as a sports fan rather than being dragged along to a game by her boyfriend. Those tickets were hers, remember, even if she did flirt with a Sports Illustrated editor to get them…

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4. The Susie Homemaker Prom Dresses

You can tell when Andie's up to her best boyfriend-losing tricks when she looks like she's come straight out of a Laura Ashley catalogue. From telling waiters that Ben called her fat, to invading his weekly boys' night, her most angelic outfits contrast with her most devilish behaviour. Now where did we leave that John Lewis gift card?

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5. The Daniella Westbrook Homage

In 2002, Daniella Westbrook was papped wearing a Burberry check skirt, carrying a Burberry-clad baby and pushing a Burberry pram. In 2003, Andie Anderson wore a Burberry check scarf, carried a Burberry-clad dog and pushed Ben Barry into a Burberry shirt. Coincidence? We think not – but Andie definitely wore it best. That scarf is crying out for a place in our wardrobe.

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6. The Celine Dion T-shirt

Do we even need to explain this one? Celine is Queen. Top marks if you can get your other half, best bud or work wife to twin with you.

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7. The Calvin Klein Ad

Is there anything that says chilled, cool, sexy movie girl more than relaxed hair, a plain white vest and some good jeans? Answer: yes, stick her on a motorbike. This is the point in How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days when the writers are trying to tell us Andie and Ben are actually in ~lUrVe~, so now there's no need for try-hard looks, because everyone is just so comfortable with each other. Andie Anderson does 90s Calvin Klein-ad style well.

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8. The Pièce De Résistance

She was trying to lose the guy, he was trying to woo the girl, but in one slip of yellow fabric Benjamin Barry fell head over heels. Remember when Andie appeared on the steps, Ben said, 'You're beautiful,' and you got chills? Such is the power of this yellow dress, which is so good it made the movie poster AND had us thinking we could pull off something similar at our high school prom. We, like Ben and Andie's intentions, were sadly mistaken.

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