Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: 'Waitress' serves up feminism on a shiny indie plate

<p>"Waitress" was released in 2007. The movie stars Keri Russell as a waitress in a diner in a small Southern town.&nbsp;</p>

"Waitress" was released in 2007. The movie stars Keri Russell as a waitress in a diner in a small Southern town. 

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time for gratitude, family drama and a whole lot of pie. And there is no better movie to watch with a slice of pie on your plate than the indie darling “Waitress.” 

Written and directed by Adrienne Shelly, the 2007 film stars Keri Russell as Jenna, a waitress at a pie diner. She’s a southern belle stuck in her ways, and stuck in a terrible marriage to Earl played by Jeremy Sisto. The only thing that gets her through it is her love of baking, especially scrumptious pies. 

Upon learning that she’s pregnant with her and her dead-beat husband's first child, she goes to the doctor for a checkup. There she meets Dr. Pomatter, the hunky new married doctor in town played by Nathan Fillion. They begin having a passionate affair and Jenna’s disdain for her baby begins to dwindle. 

This film is one that is inherently feminist. It’s written and directed by a woman and stars one, too. Jenna as a character breaks multiple female stereotypes, as she is less than excited about being pregnant and having a child. She doesn’t want to be congratulated and doesn’t want sympathy. She tells her fellow waitress friends Dawn, played by the film's director Adrienne Shelly, and Becky, played by Cheryl Hines that “not everybody wants to be a mama” and she’s not morally unjust for thinking that. 

She even considers selling her baby for runaway money so she can get away from Earl. She’ll do just about anything to get away from her husband, which leads her to start saving up money. She hopes to win a pie contest in the next town over for the $25,000 grand prize, but Earl won’t let her enter.

But throughout her pregnancy and affair, she hashes out the wrongs she’s done through her many voiceovers about baking pies like “Earl murders me cause I’m having an affair pie” and “pregnant miserable self-pitying loser pie.” She describes the ingredients while she describes her grief and how unhappy she is with her life.

There’s something so personal and easy about these voiceovers. They let you into her mind in such a straightforward way, and it gives succinct insight into her character's psyche.

Her character shows a realistic range of emotions for a woman — she’s an example of a character who can make wrong choices and feel lousy and angry or happy and excited about them. She also takes control of both her emotions and desire, making what she wants ultimately her reality in the end. 

Her affair with Dr. Pomatter is strangely justified, given that she has a terrible marriage and is in need of comfort and solace. He provides just that — he’s warm, kind and worships Jenna’s pies like no other. She turns to him for emotional stability and friendship, something she hasn’t been provided in a while.

Pun intended, “Waitress” is rich and layered, just like a good pie should be. Its lesson lies in its main characters mistakes. Jenna takes control of her wrongdoings and makes a case for why it’s okay to mess up, because it’ll all be fine in the end. She’s afraid of failure and being on her own, but once she learns those situations are okay, she truly begins to live her life.

Its feminist overtones and wealth of emotional content makes it easy to re-watch while eating a piece of pie for years to come — especially during this holiday season.

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