How would you classify Bridesmaids, the “darkly hilarious comedy” that opens nationwide on Friday? Jessica Grose, an associate editor at Slate, takes a stab:
Because while Bridesmaids does share some core DNA* with bromances, particularly the ones directed, written or produced by Judd Apatow (who was also a producer of this film), it is ultimately a different—and more original—animal: Let’s call it a homance. [Emphasis added.]
Bromance—a friendship between men, or a movie about such a friendship—entered the language around 2007, if Urban Dictionary is to be believed. A rare example of a successful portmanteau word, it seamlessly merges bro (“pal,” short for “brother”) with romance and provides a label for a movie genre that comprises not only the Apatovian oeuvre but also The Hangover, Brokeback Mountain, Good Will Hunting, the Robert Downey version of Sherlock Holmes, and … well, just about every studio-produced American movie in recent memory.
Movies about female friends, however, have been sparse lately**, so I understand the urge to tag Bridesmaids with a category name. But homance? Not only does homance dispense with the R of romance, thus muddying the semantic waters, it also replaces the chummy, G-rated bro with the decidedly less family-friendly ho—which, lest we forget, is a truncation of whore. I haven’t yet seen Bridesmaids, but it’s pretty clear that this isn’t a movie about the misadventures of a gang of streetwalkers.
So why ho? Possibly because bro and ho became linked in the expression “bros before hoes”: the section of the Guy Code that dictates that male friends take precedence over wives and girlfriends. (No, I don’t know why ho is pluralized hoes.)
Comments on the Slate article—which is headlined “Homance”—home in on (sorry) the word choice and are split between “Oh no she didn’t” and “Lighten up!” A sampling:
“womance” didn’t come to mind first? really??? coulda gone with “woman” but went with “ho”? nice. classy.
I for one have to give her some props for having enough humor and irreverance [sic] to go with “homance” in the face of the avalanche of dourness below that she must have seen coming. Btw, “womance” just sounds like Elmer Fudd, so it would barely even be a newly coined term.
If you think having a sense of humor is defined by whether you find “ho” a hilarious word or not, you have a very, very narrow idea of what it means to have a sense of humor.
Loved the article. Laughed at “homance.” Where [sic] everyone’s sense of humor today? Had dismissed the movie based on the previews, but now will actually go to see it!
(The last comment is from a woman.)
Me, I’d reserve homance for movies about the overheated housing market. Topping the list: The Money Pit.
Hat tip: Ben Zimmer.
** “Sparse lately” = virtually nonexistent for the last several decades.