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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Bridesmaids: Why Helen Has No Friends

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For those of you who dont know me out there,

I guess theres a couple of you -- not!” [Laughs]

Machiavelli argued that it is better to be feared than loved,

but Helen Harris III would probably contend

that its better still to be envied.

Id like to take this opportunity to honor Lil and Doug

with a short poem I penned while sitting on a swing

in an exclusive resort in Telethaniki.”

The Bridesmaids antagonist lives high up on a pedestal of her own making.

Yet Helens gift for appearing untouchably perfect

doesnt translate into a happy private life.

These are my kids.” “Oh!”

Step kids.” “Step.”

[Laughs]

Helen doesnt get that

making people covet what you have doesnt make them like you.

She will make friends.

There is much more sense of community in coach,

I promise you.”

By working so hard to be an object of admiration,

she puts up walls that block her from getting what she really wants: friends.

Heres our take on what its like

to be the woman other women hate (but want to be),

and why Helen has no friends.

Theres a term the young people are using -- BFF.

BFF. And youre my BFF: best friend forever.”

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The antagonist of a story is usually a dark mirror of the hero,

representing what our protagonist needs to overcome.

I mean its a bernaise. Its, its one of a kind -- I just --

I dont think theres a question.”

In Bridesmaids, Annie is crippled by low self-esteem,

so it follows that the villain of her story is a woman who seems specifically designed

to make her feel inadequate.

Maybe shell find a new best friend. And maybe she will be

more successful than you are, and prettier and richer and skinnier.”

Annie has recently suffered a devastating personal loss.

He was my boyfriend,

and then he left... me when... the business went under, so.”

Meanwhile, her best friend Lillians impending wedding

rudely announces to her that her peers have it way more together.

I feel like her life is going off and getting perfect,

and mine is just like…”

From the start,

we witness voices inside Annies head and in the society around her

telling her what kind of woman she should be.

Why cant you be more like Kahlua?”

And making her hyper-aware of the ways shes falling short.

This is my husband. You don't have a husband.”

The movie begins with her trying to project

the image of the ideal woman.

I just woke up, are you kidding? Im sure Im a mess.”

to a handsome guy

whos actually obnoxious and awful to be around.

Hes so hot though.”

Look, I know you say hes cute and all that stuff,

but he makes you feel like shit, you know.”

And at Lillians engagement party, shes repeatedly shamed

for failing to achieve her cultures ultimate feminine success -- marriage.

I'm not with anybody. Im here solo.”

All these reminders of Annies inadequacy build to the moment when she meets

Helen!”

Helen embodies everything Annie wishes she was:

shes wealthy, has married well, and is exceedingly pretty.

Youre so pretty.” [Helen laughs]

Her name evokes Helen of Troy -- the figure in Greek mythology

whose beautylaunched a thousand shipsand started the Trojan War.

So essentially Helen is the unattainable ideal of womanhood

thats plaguing Annie.

Whitney? Its Helen.”

Helen Harris?” “Yeah!”

Hi!” “HI!”

Meanwhile, “Anniemight make us think of down-on-her-luck orphan Annie.

Help me, Im poor.”

Yet this story uses Helen as proof

that having all the status symbols in the world will not make you happy.

Perry never really wants to talk to me, either.

He travels a lot. Like, all year. Im -- Im basically just by myself.”

When people appear to have it all,

We went on a sweetheart honeymoon.”

Oh, where did you guys go?” [at the same time] “Disney World.”

Oh...” “We finish each others sentences, sorry!”

usually thats just because weve only seen the tip of the iceberg

Kevin can only have sex in bed, in the dark, under the covers,

only after we have showered, separately.”

Whats interesting is that

the evidence of Helens unhappiness is blatant, right there out in the open.

I shared things with you that Ive never shared with anyone.

Painful things to do with my family and the pain Ive caused them.”

Annie just chooses to overlook it.

Itll just give the pill the little kick that it needs --

honestly, I do it all the time.”

At the engagement party,

Helen is more dressed up than the bride-to-be,

revealing a need to overcompensate.

The whole gown, and the ooh... you know, thing.

Its just weird, right?” “Well...”

Her step-kids clearly despise her.

F-[BLEEP] off, Helen.” “Okay, put a quarter in the swear jar.

So cute.” “Sweet kids.”

And her desperate possessiveness

of a woman shes known for less than a year tells us

she doesnt have any long-lasting close relationships in her life.

Youre my angel and soulmate.”

So the miserable Helen reveals that Annies problem isnt that

shes not desirable, successful, or rich enough --

its that shes wasting time wanting to be a Helen.

Let us shower Lillian with gifts and love.

Repondez sil vous plait. Yay!”

Annies only way forward

is to stop looking outward at the Helens of the world,

and turn inward instead.

“‘Cause youre your problem, Annie. And youre also your solution.”

To reconnect with her passion and take responsibility for her life.

Helen just…”

Oh! Dont... This didn't happen because of Helen.

This happened because you didn't get your tail lights fixed.”

Women want to be Helen

but that doesnt mean they want to be around her.

I dont have any female friends.” [Sobs]

Deep down she craves female closeness. All she really wants is to hang out...

Maybe sometime the three of us could go to RockinSushi together.”

Thank you, Annie. I -- I would love that.”

But shes her own worst enemy when it comes to forging real bonds.

Heres what Helen Harris teaches us about how not to make friends:

Be fake-friendly.

First, theres no warmth under Helens sunny persona.

Her surface friendliness is a mask for cool aggression.

Everyone should experience first class at least once in their lives.

And Annie shouldn't miss out just because she cant afford it.”

Think of the scene where Annie and Helen meet.

There she is, maid of honor.” “Oh, hi!”

Helen is syrupy sweet,

but she still manages to get in a subtle jab highlighting that

Annie is a fixture of Lillians old life.

So lovely to meet Lillians childhood friend.”

When Annie cant help remarking on Helens beauty,

Helen patronizes her.

You are so cute! Oh, youre so sweet.”

She then tops it all off by marking her territory,

asserting how close she and Lillian are.

They are literally joined at the hip. Which is good, because so are we!”

Nothing about this interaction

is inviting Annie to like Helen or enjoy spending time with her.

So her behavior reveals that shes not trying to make a friend here --

shes actively making a frenemy.

I'm so glad we were able to do this.”

The pleasant facade mixed with disdain

might remind us of Mean Girls villain Regina George.

Oh my god, I love your skirt, where did you get it?”

Somehow Helens or Reginas transparently fake performance

of niceness feels meaner than open hostility.

I feel fine.” “Are you sure?

It wasnt that gray kind of lamb? You ate a lot of that weird chicken.”

Make people feel bad about themselves.

Personally, the Paris themes a bit, ‘Been there, done that.’”

We turn to friends to feel better.

Youre a total catch, and any guy would be psyched to be your man.”

But Helen has a way of making people feel less than.

Yeah, and Im much smaller than you, so youll handle it.”

She strategically belittles others, and makes a point of being exclusive.

Her loving toast to Lillian has the hidden agenda

of telling the rest of the room theyre outside her inner circle.

And Dougly... Im sorry, inside joke.” [Laughs]

Her first exchange leaves Annie feeling like this:

Shes great, isnt she?” “Shes awesome.”

Be possessive.

Helen is evidently threatened by Annie.

She certainly enjoys playing tennis now. Its funny how people change, isnt it?”

She sees Lillians childhood friend as a competitor for the best-friend title,

rather than as a potential second friend.

Im happy to say that I have four new friends.”

But if Helen is so thirsty for female bonding, its silly that

she stops at one best friend when she could try to make more.

I think if youre growing, then youre changing.”

But, I mean, were changing from who we are, which we always stay as.”

Not really, I dont think so.”

Annie complains that, while it seems like

shes ruined every event leading up to Lillians wedding,

really, Helen is to blame:

Its all HER fault. It is not mine!”

Sure, Annie is making excuses,

but she does have a point about most of the disasters shes taken the fall for.

Helen slips her a really strong pill on the plane,

Holy shit. What did you give her?” “I dont--”

initiating Annies breakdown.

There is a colonial woman on the wing.

She is dressed in traditional colonial garb. Get off!”

Helen initiates the one-up-man-ship during the toasts at the engagement party.

I feel I can communicate with you with simply a look.”

Lillian.”

And she provokes Annies scene at the bridal shower

by announcing the Paris trip immediately after Annies presented her gift --

intentionally interrupting a nice moment between the old friends.

Thank you.” “Youre welcome.”

I feel really bad, Lil, I didn't get a chance to actually

get you a present because Ive been so busy organizing the shower.”

So its clear that Helen is trying

to drive a wedge between Lillian and her maid of honor.

I told you about Paris, Helen. I told you about this whole idea!”

which isnt a very nice thing to do to your new best friend.

Buy your friends.

Guess who Helen is friends with and whos designing my wedding dress.

Lady St. Petsois JuJu.”

Helen tries to win people over with wealth and connections.

We are going to a restaurant tonight. I know the owner, so...”

You do?”

At Lillians bridal shower,

Annies heartfelt gift speaks to how well she knows Lillian,

but because Helen has no decades-long history with the bride,

she feels the need to upstage Annie

with a surprise thats unnecessarily over-the-top and expensive.

[Screams] “What woman gives another woman a trip to Paris?”

Helens overcompensating suggests a deep-seated fear of not being enough.

She can never be sure that people actually like her for her.

I think people just ask me to their weddings

because Im good at organizing parties.”

So she resorts to ever-more extreme measures to make people want her around.

Ladies and gentlemen, here with us tonight is

Lillian's favorite band, singing her favorite song.”

Her overreliance on money to form the basis of emotional connections

keeps her from developing the skills that hold relationships together,

like perception and empathy.

When Lillian is missing on the wedding day, Helen cant understand,

since all the external details seem exactly right.

The dress looked fantastic. It had come in from Paris.

I had organized everything to the, you know, last, final detail.”

But shes been ignoring the signs of how Lillians feeling inside.

Helen just took over everything, and everything just got out of control.”

as well as how her excessive spending

has cloaked the whole day in stress for Lillians family.

My dad cant afford the wedding.”

People like Helen assume that

adding more money into an occasion automatically makes it better --

but its not always the case that expensive equals good.

Sometimes money gets in the way of comfort, intimacy, and having a good time.

I am not paying for this shit.”

Move too fast.

We glean from Helens engagement party speech that

she and Lillian bonded over a tipsy weekend on their husbandsbusiness trip.

And they were working the entire weekend,

and we just sat and drank wine and ate peanut brittle.”

And in eight monthstime,

Helen has embellished a good rapport with the wife of her husbands employee

into a full-fledged best-friendship.

Lillian, you are my best friend.”

But just as Helen cant buy a best-friendship, she cant fast-forward

into being Lillians bestie.

That kind of true bond has to develop at a natural pace over years,

as two people get to really know each other.

[Laughs] “We listened to Hold On probably 10,000 times

when I got my drivers license.”

Doing too much.

An attendant will meet you at the stables.” “Where?”

The shower is over the second bridge. Pink lemonade?”

Oh, um...”

Most of us might struggle with finding the time to do enough

for our friends and show up when they need us,

but Helen proves its possible to do too much.

Look at that f-[BLEEP]-ing cookie! Did you really think that

this group of women was going to finish that cookie?”

Giving a gift thats too big

can make the receiver feel uncomfortable or inadequate.

It draws all the attention to the person gifting,

and so you could say its selfish.

Its just a little pre-wedding vacation.

And while were there, were gonna meet the designer of her dress

and have a fitting.” [Gasps]

We see all this in Helens choice

to hand out puppies as party favors at the shower

[Screams] “No, no! She does not get a party favor!

She does not get a dog!”

Its an elaborate gesture with maximum drama and cuteness,

but it saddles each party guest with the huge unasked-for responsibility

of caring for a demanding baby animal.

I did slightly overcommit to the whole dog thing.

It turns out Im probably more comfortable with six.”

Perform your friendship.

Helens need to constantly put her friendship with Lillian

on display is another red flag.

You better not keep my Lil on a leash, because I still need my drunken

Saturday nights at RockinSushi, okay?”

Boasting about having fun together doesnt really bring friends closer together.

It just turns your friend into an accessory to flaunt in public.

Finally, Helens biggest mistake is not being herself.

Her instinct in any situation is to fall back on inauthenticity.

Im proud of you, Lil.”

[Screams] “Shut up, Helen!”

Even when she finally starts to open up to Annie,

she still resorts to false flattery.

I don't think that Brazilian food really gave us food poisoning.”

No, I -- it did.” “No, I don't think it did.”

Helen is doing herself a disservice by being so disingenuous,

because her pretension masks a more sensitive, kind soul underneath.

It was really nice meeting you.”

Its that inner person that Lillian fell for.

Shes actually really cool, Annie.

Shes reallyShe's a good one. Im telling you.”

And maybe this is why

Helen gets so desperate to grasp onto her new friendship.

At last shes found someone who likes her for her.

You made me realize how I can trust people again.”

Unfortunately, though, her need to always win, to be better than everyone,

leads her to make choices that are detrimental to her own happiness,

like driving other women away.

You used all my ideas.” “Thank you. I know, it really came together.”

The image-obsessed culture that Helen thrives in may care

about being able to fill a party and having people you can point to

as so-called friends, but it doesnt make room for the things

a real friendship consists of.

Is he coming?” “Im coming after you!”

Sorry, Rodney, were on a budget!”

So its no wonder that

Helen doesnt really understand how to be a friend.

I dont know what's happened to her.”

I dont know. You should know, right? Youre her best friend.”

To be envied is to experience a distance between you and another person.

Youre up high; theyre down below.

I looked up to Naomi pretty much my entire life,

which meant she was looking down on me.”

While this distance might offer the cheap thrill of an ego boost,

doesnt it feel better to be close to someone?

Youre like my sister, and I love you.”

Today, theres more pressure than ever

to present the perfect picture to your Facebook friends,

but if theres one lesson Helen teaches us,

its that you dont make actual friends by getting people to wish

they had your life. Envy inspires resentment, not love.

[mocking] “Oh, hi, Im Helen. Oh... You live in Milwaukee? Im sorry.”

Helens and Annies friendship breakthrough finally comes when

Helen does the thing shes been working so hard not to do:

show an imperfection.

Its the first time Ive ever seen you look ugly.

It makes me kind of happy.”

Suddenly, Annie can see Helen as a human being,

and so she can relate to her.

Youre an ugly crier, but thats okay.”

Even then, Helen resists the moment of bonding.

"I look ugly? No, I dont. I dont really look ugly.”

Shes not used to the vulnerability thats required to have

a real friendship, but at least, shes on her way.

I wanna apologize to you personally for all of the things that have gone down.

I know that I hurt you, and

that I created a distance between you and Lillian.”

In Bridesmaids, the love object that women compete for isnt a man --

its a friend.

I just want to thank you for carefully selecting me

as your maid of honor. I know you had, uh, some other choices.”

And this set-up is so rare and interesting

because our culture generally doesnt place the same value on friendship

as it does on things like romance, careers, money, or family.

But in Bridesmaids, the love of a friend is truly a prize worth having --

it makes everything else in life better.

I love you.” “I love you.”

So while Annie spends most of Bridesmaids feeling bad

shes not more like Helen, looking back over the story,

its really Helen whos been deeply envious of Annie for having

the most precious thing of all: a best-friendship.

[singing] “Thats what friends are for...”

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The Description of Bridesmaids: Why Helen Has No Friends