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The First Wives Club: A Movie That Still Owns Me

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the resurgence of interest in The First Wives Club. Not that I’m mad about it! It’s one of my favorite movies. But it is a little crazy.

Before Ariana Grande dropped her official "thank u, next" video that paid homage to recent, younger-skewing rom coms like Bring It On and 13 Going on 30, she did a big old wink to the 1996 film during her debut performance of the song on Ellen.

This simultaneously cracked me up and mystified me, because The First Wives Club was one of the most heavily re-watched movies in college for my group of friends… in the late ‘90s.

What is it about this film and the way it continues to resonate so much with young 20-somethings when it’s ostensibly targeted toward the Nancy Meyers demographic?

When most of us were first watching The First Wives Club, we were still younger than the age-inappropriate women with which the men in the movie were cavorting with. But that mattered not a whit when you consider the truly classic comedic styling on the screen.

Beyond the trifecta of Midler, Hawn, and Keaton, just look at how front-loaded this cast is.

  • Stockard Channing
  • Marcia Gay Harden
  • Pre-Harry Potter and Downton Abbey Maggie Smith
  • Pre-Carrie Bradshaw Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Post-Showgirls Elizabeth Berkley
  • Pre-Alias Victor Garber
  • Post-Clueless Dan Hedaya
  • Pre-Deadwood and Justified Timothy Olyphant
  • Balky himself
  • And cameos from Lea De Laria and Debra Monk!

It’s no wonder that this is a movie that transcends space and time.

Beyond my personal memories of the four of us dancing through the streets of Lewisburg late at night belting out “You Don’t Own Me,” The First Wives Club remains one of the best things I brought out of college with me. (Perhaps uncoincidentally, I was also discovering When Harry Met Sally was the greatest movie ever around this time.)

Though we had no firsthand experience with the vagaries of marriage back then, the universal truth resonated:

Find your support crew for the hard times, the ones who’ll see you through your most down and embarrassing moments and go all in to bring you back to your rightful levels of fabulous through the power of friendship. And a good white suit.

Oh, and now they’re talking of a reboot, of course, with Jill Scott, which - hey, why not? I’m here for that.