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The infamous and ever-elusive ‘cool girl’ trope has been dominant in our society and across the scope of modern media for too long.  The ‘cool girl’ is best described by Gillian Flynn, in her best-selling novel Gone Girl, as the one who ‘drinks cheap beer [...] and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth [...] while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot.  Hot and understanding.  Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want.’  In short, the cool girl is an unobtainable standard filled with absurd contradictions.


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Writer and Director, Judd Apatow, best known for the feature films Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin, and Pineapple Express, in addition to the HBO series Girls, recently added the Netflix original series Love to his resume, and in turn, challenged this popular cool girl stereotype.  Love follows Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust), two young and unique individuals brought together by a serendipitous turn of events that both result in the break-ups of their respective relationships.  The show ingeniously follows an accelerated timeline spanning a mere 10 days, mimicking the sense of urgency found in many millennial relationships.

While on the surface, Love seems to pit the archetypes of the ‘cool girl’ and the ‘nice guy’ against each other, it’s so much more than that.  Neither Mickey nor Gus are limited to the characteristics that typically comprise their stereotypes.  Mickey, who is undeniably hot, is the opposite of understanding when it comes to her ‘nice guy’ and rightfully so.  Without giving away any spoilers, I will just say that Mickey was equally in the right and in the wrong throughout the course of their tumultuous relationship.

Their final altercation culminates in her yelling at Gus, 'Surprise! I'm not the cool girl.  I'm not just some girl you can f*** for a while to prove to yourself that you can be dangerous and edgy and you're not some huge dork.'  While delivered in a slightly crass manner, every girl has been there.  Every girl has been told she’s acting crazy or being clingy, thus perpetuating the allure of the would-be ‘cool girl’ trope.  This unobtainable persona every girl is told she should want to be, only sets her up for failure.


The infamous and ever-elusive ‘cool girl’ trope has been dominant in our society and across the scope of modern media for too long.


The truth is, life is messy and so are we.  We’re young, still learning and still growing.  We don’t have everything figured out.  Relationships are amazing, and you truly learn a lot about yourself when discovering another person.  But relationships are also complicated, and trying to live up to society’s expectations only complicates them more.  Shows such as Apatow’s Love are truly redefining how our media and our society view women.  They are honest, gritty and shattering the cool girl illusion.  More industry creatives need to follow suit and portray women in a nuanced and unapologetically honest way.


Gabriella Bower is a student at New York University.  Her two passions have always been fashion and philanthropy and she works to incorporate both aspects into her life as often as she can.  Read more of Gabriella’s work ranging from current trends to short essays and social justice oriented posts on her blog Read Between the Hemlines.


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