Making the Grades
I Don’t Know How She Does It furthers the biggest lie ever propagated to the female gender—that women can have it all, a stunning body, an exciting career, a well-functioning family and the perfect parties. Anyone who’s tried to do it all knows that really isn’t possible. Many women have a lot more options than did their mothers or grandmothers, but there are still only 24 hours in a day. And that woman who looks like she has it all, likely has some behind-the-scenes help from a personal assistant, nanny, Molly Maid, Betty Crocker or Sara Lee.In fact, whether you’re female or male, president of a Fortune 500 Company or a stay-at-home parent, life is made up of choices.
In the case of Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker), a fund manager for a large financial company, she chooses to sacrifice sleep, sex and sanity. But truth is she is still barely hanging on. Then one of her financial proposals catches the attention of Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan). Impressed by her ideas, he wants her to start flying to New York on a regular basis to help him pitch the plan to one of his clients (James Murtaugh).
Exciting as it is to be playing in the big leagues, the extra time away from home starts wearing on the family, especially when Kate misses her son’s first haircut and gets the cold shoulder from her daughter who is disappointed her mom misses so many family events. Even her mother-in-law (Jane Curtin) makes a jab about Kate’s work commitments.
And so the lies grow. For a school bake sale, Kate "distresses" a store bought pie to make it look homemade. (Really? Does that suggest that all homemade treats look dreadful?) She fudges the truth about why she is late for work and pretends she’s interested in intimacy even though she can’t possibly stay awake until her husband makes it to the bedroom. (Anyone with access to the movie’s trailer has already seen that gag and most of the film’s other funny moments.)
Lucky for Kate, her husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) is at home trying to get his own architecture company up and running. That leaves him plenty of time to take the kids to school, make dinner, and organize babysitting. (Who does the laundry is never mentioned.) He is the perfect man for a woman who spends more time with her handsome and single male coworker than she does at home.
While Kate makes some decisions that show where her real values are, this predictable plot doesn’t really give her a lot of options other than to "be all that". It’s a dilemma she and her friend Allison (Christina Hendricks) share, along with sexually suggestive jokes and some descriptive innuendo. Failure or "good enough" (things that women occasionally have to settle for) aren’t alternatives. The choice to stay home is out of the question, especially considering how nasty and one-dimensional Wendy Best (Busy Phillips) and the other stay-at-home moms are. Glossing over the consequences that would likely result from some of the decisions this woman makes, her only real course of action is to run a little faster and work a little harder when she heads back to the office on Monday morning.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about I Don’t Know How She Does It.
How are the characters’ surnames used to describe them?
How does this movie depict the relationship between working moms and stay-at-home mothers? Why do women sometimes feel the need to justify their choices to one another? In what ways can females support one another in their life decisions rather than battle over them?
Despite the script, what are the more likely consequences for female employees who are put in situations similar to those portrayed for Kate and Jack? What are the chances of a professional working relationship continuing? How does Kate influence Momo’s (Olivia Munn) decision about her future?
Kate likes working in the financial market because she says it doesn’t care if she is a woman or a man. Is that same gender neutrality depicted in her office?
Despite what this movie portrays, lice actually prefer clean hair to dirty hair. It is spread through the sharing of contaminated items including hats, combs, hairbrushes etc.