Nancy Meyers thinks it’s sexist when men talk about her films’ amazing kitchens

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The older I get, the more I fundamentally understand that I just like to look at pretty things. I will watch terrible movies and terrible TV shows just because I like looking at pretty people or pretty interior design. Rom-coms are especially based on this fundamental desire to watch attractive people attract each other in charming ways surrounded by pretty interior design and/or pretty locales. Nancy Meyers has made this into an art. Meyers is the writer-director of films like The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give, The Intern and It’s Complicated. All of those films are pleasurable on many levels, and one of those levels is that it’s fun to look at all of the interior design/set design on every single one of those films. But is it sexist to talk about Nancy Meyers’ films in the context of their set design, especially her films’ consistently beautiful kitchens? Meyers thinks so.

The “Nancy Meyers kitchen” conjures an immediate image to fans of the writer-director’s comedies. It’s airy, light-filled and often comes complete with a fresh bowl of seasonal citrus. At the 2019 Produced By conference, Meyers was in conversation with Mindy Kaling, who asked the Something’s Gotta Give filmmaker about how she feels about the media’s obsession with her onscreen kitchens.

“I often think that male writers focus on those aspects of the movie because they can’t relate to the central problems of your protagonists — for instance, a 62-year-old-woman’s children have left the house and she has an empty nest,” notes Kaling. “That would irate me. Do you ever feel like your movies are misunderstood?”

“Not by the people who go to them, which is all that really matter,” Meyers began. “I don’t love when a critic or journalist will pick up on that aspect, because they are missing the boat and they are missing why [the movie] works…It is a cheap shot,” added Meyers, who noted that the media would likely not write about the kitchens in the films from male directors. “It’s never done to male directors who make gorgeous-looking movies, where the leads live in a great house. It’s never brought up. With me, it’s an easy thing to go after, but I am not going to change it.”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

Well… I mean, the actual script for Something’s Gotta Give is okay, and the film is elevated by Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton’s performances, Meyers’ direction, and yes, that fantastic Hamptons home. That Hamptons home was basically another character in the film, and interior designers STILL talk about the set/interior design of that film. And I don’t think it’s sexist? Is it sexist to say that movies are a fantasy and that a female director has a feminine eye for what appeals to female film-watchers? Nancy Meyers’ films all have that – they are beautiful to look at and they are full of the smaller details which appeal to the female gaze – a perfectly placed vase of roses, a beautiful kitchen layout and design, soft creams and cloud-like blues. Is that sexist? I don’t know.

Rihanna attends Fenty Beauty's 1-year anniversary at Sephora

Rihanna attends Fenty Beauty's 1-year anniversary at Sephora

Photos courtesy of WENN, production stills from Meyers’ films.

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69 Responses to “Nancy Meyers thinks it’s sexist when men talk about her films’ amazing kitchens”

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  1. Originaltessa says:

    Not just men notice Nancy Meyers’ movies always take place in idyllic homes with beautiful kitchens.

    • tealily says:

      Maybe she’s the sexist one for setting all these female-centric stories in kitchens, eh??

      [This is a (half) joke.]

  2. Nancypants says:

    From one Nancy to another: B.S.

    It isn’t sexist if ANYONE -male or female – thinks your sets and kitchens are pretty. Good God Nancy! You should be flattered.

    I enjoy many sets and covet many as well and when I was a runner, I liked to run at night because it was quiet and cooler, less traffic and I like looking in other people’s houses.

    Not in a creepy, pervy way but I like to see what colors and style they used and artwork and how they arranged things.

    Hey, if it’s dark outside and light inside and the blinds and curtains are wide open, they must want me to see in there and it’s not as if I was stopping to stare; just a glimpse as I ran by.

    It’s called real estate and decorating porn.
    Some people are into that and I copy some of the things I see on movie sets so, there.

    • Snowslow says:

      I’m with you. I love walking anywhere at night to have a peak at people’s houses. It’s fascinaaaating. Even better, in Paris, some overground subway lines pass by flats and at night you can see rooms, living rooms, kitchens, people going about their lives. It’s appeasing in a way. Of course house porn is one of the reasons to watch many many films questionable (the latest of which is Big Little Lies).
      The other day my son asked for advice for a new series to watch in between revisions “as soothing” as Suits – his theory being that watching those people in big offices in high rises was super relaxing to him. Of course the interiors of certain films are definitely characters and help make the film because it’s a way of vicariously live a kind of life one will never have access to.

      • Esmom says:

        I’m watching What/If now on Netflix and it’s so cheesy but the interiors are soothing. They’re not super fantastic or anything but they’re cool and I think they’re what’s keeping me going through the series. The San Francisco setting is pretty amazing, too.

      • Snowslow says:

        Thanks @Esmon I’ll have a look. I love the San Francisco vibe although I’ve never been.

      • lucy2 says:

        Esmom, I enjoyed the scenery of that too, except Renee’s character’s home looked like a weird museum.
        The show was super cheesy, like 80s drama, but enjoyable.

      • Esmom says:

        lucy2, I’m about five episodes in and cannot figure out Renee’s character. She is so over the top (her voice, her walk!) and yeah her house is weird. Who keeps a ring of mysterious keys encased in a glass box on a pedestal?

        And Snowslow, when I used to have a crappy long walk home from the train stop I used to like it in the fall when it got darker earlier so I could get glimpses into people’s houses. A common impulse, apparently!

      • Algernon says:

        Half my enjoyment of Big Little Lies is peeping everyone’s beach houses.

        The neighborhood I moved into last year is full of historic homes. There is a house walk three times a year, and I have been on every one so far. I *love* seeing how other people decorate, what objects interest them, what books, if any, they display. I like to see how different people treat historic homes, and how people decorate for different holidays. It’s fun! Plus I get ideas for my own home. We renovated our house and after going on the summer house walk last year I stopped and asked multiple home owners about particular finishes or fixtures they had because I liked their rooms. One couple recommended an amazing wallpaper guy who did a flawless job in our guest bath with a crazy pattern wallpaper. I wouldn’t have had the guts to do the guest bath in wall-to-wall bright red paper without seeing their room first (it wasn’t red, but it was the same idea, a very bold paper totally encasing the room).

      • Mash says:

        OMG i do that too…. my fiance will be driving and ill say slow down and we will coast and see someone’s kitchen thru a passby….the reno homes in DC are to die for!!!

    • Himmiefan says:

      That’s exactly why I walk at dusk!

    • Becks1 says:

      HAHA my husband thinks its so weird that I do this, but I love it. Especially if you live an area where all the houses are similar – I like seeing how others with our particular rancher (part of a development in the 60s) are set up, decorated, etc.

    • The Recluse says:

      I still lust after that house in the original Parent Trap that Brian Keith lives in!
      And people have contacted Disney in the past to get copies of the blue print only to be told that it was strictly a set: NO BLUEPRINTS!!!

  3. Robinda says:

    I spent most of my adulthood trying to do well enough to have the kitchen, and pretty much the whole house, from The Big Chill. I hope that doesn’t bother Lawrence Kasdan.

    • ATLMathMom says:

      I *loved* the house in The Big Chill too, but hadn’t thought about it in years. I think this calls for a re-watch. :-)

    • Tori says:

      According to Meyers’ logic you’re being very antisemitic by liking the house and kitchen from the Big Chill. Check yourself.

    • L84Tea says:

      Oh yeah, all those glass cabinets in The Big Chill kitchen are gorgeous!

  4. OSTONE says:

    I don’t think is sexist either. I love Nancy Meyers movies! When life is hard and our country is in shambles, I love to tune out to rich white people with awesome houses and an unlimited credit card at Pottery Barn.

  5. Kimmy says:

    What’s the Mandy Moore/Diane Keaton movie? I’m too lazy too google, but is that Nancy Meyers? Because I have been obsessed with that kitchen FOR YEARS.

  6. Sue Denim says:

    I think in a patriarchy we often one-down areas where women can shine or even rule, so I think she has this wrong — why not celebrate the interior design of hearth and home in these women-centered films, and let the Tarantinos of the world rock the car chases and guy stuff we’re so used to lauding and need so much less of…

  7. Surly Gale says:

    It IS sexist from the point of view of….she’s right. No one asks about the kitchen in a male’s rom-com (sleepless in Seattle, harry met sally, etc). They all had nice homes, yes? I don’t remember one comment about the kitchen coming from a single reviewer, and they had lots of scenes in kitchens. So, from that point of view, she’s right.
    Sexist isn’t ALWAYS bad. … women want to be equal where it MATTERS! Someone’s hobby (kitchen porn) doesn’t matter. Equal pay for equal work matters. Equal opportunity for promotion. Yes! Does it matter that her stories take place in glorious kitchens…not truly, that’s the fantasy part. Do we (generalization alert) enjoy hunting killing video games? (many men do)_Do we (alert continued) fantasize about having our friends over to our amazing kitchens (many women do). Hell, I don’t even cook much and am good only inconsistently, but love the kitchens in the movies cause I can pretend, right. So, yes it’s sexist and it’s okay.

    • SamC says:

      I disagree; I remember several reviewers of Sleepless in Seattle talking about the amazing houseboat and the other one (based on Shop Around the Corner, can’t remember the title right now) writing/talking about Meg Ryan’s giant studio apartment and the design.

      • lucy2 says:

        Me too. The houseboat is still on tours of Seattle.

        When a film’s set is really well done, unusual, or beautiful, people are going to talk about it, regardless of whether or not the filmmaker is a man or woman. People still talk about the apartment from Friends. There were articles about the homes in Big Little Lies. There are tons of lists of the best homes and such featured in films.

        IMO, Nancy should be proud that her films have such a beautiful aesthetic that so many people like. We still have clients who want the “Something’s Gotta Give look” for their homes. If she’s upset they focus on the kitchen alone…it’s the centerpiece of many of her stories, so…?

        I like her work, and she’s one of the few women directors that’s been successful for a long time, but I think she’s wrong on this one.

    • tealily says:

      Enough people drooled over the kitchen in Practical Magic that the production designer, Robin Standefer, now designs homes. Griffin Dunne (a dude) directed that film.

  8. L84Tea says:

    The “Something’s Gotta Give” house (particular Diane Keaton’s bedroom) is my favorite movie house of all time, followed closely by the “The Father of the Bride” house. I have fantasized about those beautiful homes for years. I had no idea I was being sexist.

  9. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    This is absurd. I can’t stand rom-coms, but I love other genres, and I always pick apart set designs. I do believe awards are given concerning this particular talent? I’ve been having movie set design conversations with both males and females since watching movies…so like, forever. This poor woman is needing something that doesn’t have anything to do with kitchen layouts.

    • Tiffany says:

      THIS !!!

      This is truly a insult to the set designers who bust ass to bring her, the director’s, vision to the screen.

      Nancy handled this all wrong. She has been in this game too long and should know better. This is something that could have segued into complementing those designers and her saying that she is happy that it brings joy to people that watch her films.

      • Tori says:

        Exactly. She made the beautiful work of her set designers about her and then reached to make herself a victim. No, your set designers are just really good at their jobs.

    • Godwina says:

      “This is truly a insult to the set designers who bust ass to bring her, the director’s, vision to the screen.”

      THIS. Production design is a huge-ass endeavour that takes so much specialised (and in-born) talent, and it’s what makes or breaks a movie for me. Not even kidding.

  10. TIFFANY says:

    I still covent that kitchen from It’s Complicated.

    And yeah, that set up from Mindy was not great, at all. At the end of the day Nancy is not happy that critics are fawning over the, in her mind, the superficial and not fawning over her being the greatest director their is.

    • SamC says:

      Me too; and Meg Ryan’s brownstone apartment in You’ve Got Mail.

      • Tiffany says:

        And even her bookstore was absolutely beautiful in You’ve Got Mail. Man, now I wanna watch You’ve Got Mail.

    • Granger says:

      Ohhhh, that kitchen in It’s Complicated. That whole movie just feels … pretty. I’ve watched it a few times because it soothes me in some weird way. I love the scene in the hotel bar when Streep and Baldwin rediscover each other and get totally drunk. It makes me want to get drunk in a fancy hotel bar, which is completely ridiculous.

  11. Harryg says:

    Well, it’ is true that all Nancy Meyer movies have amazing house-porn houses, while for example Nora Ephron movies have just very very nice houses. (Not comparing them because they are women but because their movies have similar tone.) It’s not sexist, it just seems to be a “Meyers movie” style, nothing wrong with that! I love seeing the interiors. And she’s a really good director and writer.
    Also, nearly every day I think of those croissants they bake in It’s Complicated.

    • Esmom says:

      Ha. I was just thinking about Kristen Wiig’s solo cupcake in Bridemaids. So pretty (but also who bakes and decorates just a single cupcake, lol).

      • Snowslow says:

        I know right?! That’s why that scene is so compelling actually. Come to think of it 🤔

  12. MrsBanjo says:

    My brain is all over the place this morning. When I initially saw the first photo I thought it was Jennifer Aniston aged for a role. Then the fact that it’s an article about Nancy Meyers made me immediately think of Brooklyn 99 with Rosa and Pimento.

    Good design is good design. If you’re going to use it in your movies and have it be a central location for story, Nancy, expect people to notice and talk about it.

  13. Steff says:

    I’m kind of sick of watching rich people characters dominate movies/tv shows, regardless of gender. Unless they’re parodies (like Schitt’s Creek), they can be so shallow and unrealistic. Same goes for the settings. There are so many cases where the character(s) live in a multi-million dollar home or apartment but realistically their occupation could never afford that.

    But now… I will sit down and watch a marathon of rich people looking for houses on hgtv all day long. Maybe I prefer that because it’s real? *shrugs*

    • SamC says:

      I’m the opposite, would rather watch it in movies. I’m done after about 3 episodes of House Hunters same wish list (granite, stainless, hardwoods, big master bath, etc.) at every price point, or people saying they want to be in a city because of unique this or that, then pick the newest, most generic home of the choices.

      • The Recluse says:

        I swear if I hear one more request for an ‘Open Concept’ kitchen/house or hear anyone gushing over the crown molding, I am going to go mental. I don’t watch that show near as much as I used to. More often than not the people annoyed me.

    • lucy2 says:

      Except that’s not so real – they pick and buy the house ahead of time, and then look at 2 others just for the sake of the show.

  14. PlaidSheets says:

    The kitchen is about the only thing I remember from “It’s Complicated”. I didn’t even know she was the director as I don’t really pay too much attention to who the director is.
    I wanted to like it, but it fell flat for me. Besides, wasn’t the premise of that one building another great kitchen?!?! The original on the house was already pretty awesome.

  15. dota says:

    So it is sexist for men to notice and talk about kitchens? Why are they in the film then? I qualify as a political-nazi on this board but I love a good looking well designed kitchen. I just looked at a dream house, everything was perfect except the kitchen. The stove was in the middle of the room with no vent. Why do they do that?

  16. Texas says:

    I’m sorry. If you are going to give us kitchen porn, own that chit.

    • L84Tea says:

      Exactly. If you’re going to constantly put drool-worthy homes in your movies, and you don’t want people to focus on that at all, then maybe don’t put such drool-worthy rooms and kitchens in your movie??

    • Robinda says:

      Exactly. You know that there are half a dozen meetings about what she wanted the kitchens to look like and then she’s annoyed when people notice them.

  17. savu says:

    I thought a while back I had read about how picky she is about the kitchen design in her movies. Maybe I’m wrong. But if you’re designing it on purpose, people may notice and enjoy it! Those kitchens are amazing.

    Anybody else constantly browse real estate for no reason? I call it “real estate porn”. It’s just fun to look in all these houses and get ideas, and be privately judgmental about strangers’ bad taste. A couple years ago I was doing my normal real estate porn search and I found this gorgeous house built in the 1850s, one of the oldest in my medium-sized city. And we’ve been in it two years now!

    • (TheOG)@Jan90067 says:

      👋🏻 I do! I do!! I’ve been watching RE & decorating shows for decades! I LOVE seeing how others use color and design in spaces. I remember when HGTv started; it was almost ALL different decorating shows. Gave me some good ideas for my rooms over the years. That, and jewelry, are my porn…I can watch for HOURS lol sigh… 😊.

      • Deering24 says:

        God, I miss that HGTV. So sick of house-flipping and self-satisfied rich people throwing their cool houses in everyone’s faces.

    • hogtowngooner says:

      Always! My fiance thinks I’m desperate to move but really I just like looking at pretty homes and getting design ideas for my own home.

  18. DS9 says:

    Her films have a mostly female audience who are also enamored of the kitchens so how many men are we talking about anyway

  19. Giddy says:

    For me the set designs in It’s Complicated are my dream life. It’s not just the kitchen either. That fabulous bakery! The garden to die for! Every scene has something I adore, and I have studied it like it’s a take-home final. There are web sites dedicated to studying her set design, and Architectural Digest had an article about the psychology of her designs. One of my favorite sites, Cote de Texas, studies her design, and even had photos from Nancy’s own home to compare to her movies. I love seeing how she lives after she has created such fantasies.

  20. Milkweed says:

    Oh my god, It’s Complicated is the worst movie I’ve ever kept watching. Why did I do that to myself?

  21. RM says:

    I don’t get this complaint but then I might be bias as I love house/decorating porn. Nothing is more fun to me then looking at how a house is laid out and decorated. I mean I look at real estate sites just for fun.

    And her sets are unbelievable- and that is a great thing, who doesn’t like interesting and compelling sets. My favorite thing.

  22. Bella Bella says:

    What does “That would irate me” mean?

    I mean, I know what she is trying to say, but this is not English!!! Gah!!!!!!!!

  23. Godwina says:

    “It’s never done to male directors who make gorgeous-looking movies, where the leads live in a great house. It’s never brought up. With me, it’s an easy thing to go after, but I am not going to change it.”

    Meh, before Woody Allen was horrific, way back, loads of folks (including yours truly) used to gush about Woody Allen NY interiors. Kubrick got that treatment, too. And let’s not forget Italian 60s and 70s production design (which is basically Italian 60s and 70s interior design), and all male directors. I could go on for miles.

    I don’t know how many movies NM has actually seen…

  24. Anon says:

    Then maybe make documentaries with her iphone and cook on a hotplate?

    Come on. This is the whitest complaint I’ve ever heard. Boo hoo, men say my make believe kitchens are awesome.

    She’s a working director who’s made the whitest, upper middle class films of the last quarter century. Not buying her angst.

    • Snowflake says:

      Yes yes and yes. I’m white and honestly it’s pathetic some of the shit i hear. I’m not perfect but ffs, some of it is just insanely stupid.

  25. BendyWindy says:

    I’m an interior design geek. I’m that person that’s watching a horror film and asking my husband if he saw that gorgeous rug someone just got murdered on.

    I notice the kitchens. And all the little touches. That’s what I’m here for. Sorry, Nancy.

  26. Helen says:

    she’s being disingenuous and trying to deflect when claiming the criticism about those “kitchens” in every one of her movies is about sexism -

    it’s not. it’s moreso about the particular socio-economic class she exclusively focuses on and the stories she needlessly keeps telling about shallow, self-centered/absorbed, vapid, segregated upper-middle class, 99.9% of the time *white* women. she knows it and wants to keep doing it, given that she’s as shallow, vapid, self-centered/absorbed, segregated, etc. hence the disingenuousness and deflection.

    have *any* of the leads in her movies been a person of color? blue-collar? lgbt? but yeah, it’s about “sexism.” pffft.

  27. Ann says:

    I’m getting these movies mixed up. I thought The Holiday was In Her Shoes and Something’s Gotta Give was As Good As It Gets. Now that I remember correctly, yes, everything in The Holiday was beautiful. Aesthetic porn for sure. I don’t see it as sexist. They were supposed to be fluffy movies with heart, right? So why not fawn all over one of the best aspects of a movie? It’s more of a gigantic compliment to Nancy Meyers and the props departments for her movies. I think taking praise as a negative in this case is just flat out cynical.