Nora Ephron: Thank you.

In the opening act of Nora Ephron’s semi-autobiographical Heartburn, the main character, Rachel, spends an extended sequence crippled by fear before the ceremony of her second wedding. Her doubts do not lead her to a magical epiphany; she does not ride away on a horse. No one gets off quite that easily in a Nora Ephron movie. Those epiphanies take some work.

Because Ephron was an incredibly honest writer, and unwavering in her feminism, she created female characters we need more of: ones who can be scared and make mistakes but still not lose their dignity; ones whose doubts will not be magically erased upon meeting “Mr. Right”; ones who were weird because people are weird and not because “quirky” is in this season. She has been one of my biggest role models in writing and a vision of how a woman could make it in Hollywood not just as a writer, but as a producer and director and a person with a real seat at the table.

And she was so fucking funny.

I’m extremely sad right now, and I hope that, at the least, Ephron’s passing will be a time when casual fans will examine her career beyond When Harry Met Sally… (no matter how justified we all are in counting it among our favorite films). Let’s ask ourselves how many women who could be contributing on the level of Nora Ephron are not being let in the room yet. Those of us who are women with ambitions to make it in Hollywood, let’s all write something tonight for her.

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Other projects:


Downton Gabby: podcasting about Downton Abbey from a funny, foul-mouthed, feminist perspective

Quick Lit: reading one short story a day in 2015

Grand Dames: collecting sundry achievements of admirable women

The MacGuffin: archive of my days as a film critic

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