The term "chick flick," as we know it today, first arose in the late 1980s to describe a movie that happens to appeal to a largely female audience. Steel Magnolias, with its predominantly female cast and focus on female issues, was one of the first movies to earn the epithet.
While many-a-"chick flick" has come and gone since then, these 10 movies are some of the very best, transcending and subverting the genre to become instant classics:
1. "Mean Girls"
Not only is this movie way too quotable to get stuck in a genre box, it's way too big a part of our culture to get stuck on the silver screen.
This year, Tina Fey began working on a Mean Girls musical, proving this pop culture classic's appeal doesn't just transcend gender and genre, but medium, too. Four for you, Glen Coco! You go, Glen Coco!
2. "Legally Blonde"
Whoever said "chick flicks" were the new "movies about smart women working it in and outside law school" was seriously disturbed.
What, like it's hard to transcend genre? Not for Elle Woods. Even after 15 years, ladies — and gents — everywhere are still bending, snapping, and using legal jargon they learned from this film in everyday conversation.
3. "The Notebook"
Men don't have to cry during The Notebook to appreciate this sincere love story. Everyone gets in touch with their emotional (not necessarily feminine) side in different ways.
And if we learned anything from Nicholas Sparks' most famous work, it's that the person who really loves you — the one who wants "all of you, forever, you and me, everyday" — will love you regardless.
"You jump over the chick flick genre, I jump over the chick flick genre, right?" That's what Rose could've — and should've — said in this epic tale that forever changed the '90s.
A work of romance, historical fiction, and some serious CGI, Titanic is both a narrative and technological feat that, oh yeah, just happened to win the Oscar for Best Picture in 1998.
5. "When Harry Met Sally"
This film, as well as the rest of the Nora Ephron box set, have all become classics whose pop culture influences have extended far beyond the realm of chick flick-dom.
Ephron was known for saying "everything is copy," meaning everything that happens in a person's life can be used in writing. She gets women; she gets men; she gets everyone to sit down, shut up, and believe in magic for a couple of hours.
Like Mean Girls, this movie transcended both the "chick flick" genre and the entire film medium ever since its GIFs took over the internet in 2011.
Anyone who's ready to PAAAAARRRRRTTTTYYYYYY will laugh, cry (from so much laughter), and find themselves regularly quoting this film that captures all the hilarious and heartfelt aspects of female friendship.
7. "Pretty In Pink"
Perhaps the best — and most transcendent — part of this classic Molly Ringwald movie is the protagonist, Andie's, decision not to settle for Duckie after Blaine backs out of their prom date.
By choosing to go to the prom alone, rather than settling for Duckie, Andie totally derails the typical '80s teen romance plot and debunks the classic "nice guy" trope while she's at it. Even when Andie does end up "getting the guy" in the end, she's already proved to herself that she doesn't need him, or anyone, to make her feel special.
8. "Love Actually"
Though romantic comedies are often labeled as "chick flicks," just because a movie has "love" in its title doesn't mean a man can't enjoy it just as much, if not more, than any woman.
This is particularly true with this British, star-studded film that explores yes, romantic love, but familial and platonic love, too. Believe it or not, both sexes do actually love Love Actually.
9. "Pretty Woman"
You made a big mistake, big, HUGE, if you thought this film was "just" a chick flick. Sure, it's a sex-positive declaration of female independence and ambition that flips a typically gendered power dynamic on its head.
Not to mention, it features Jason Alexander (the actor best known for playing George Costanza on Seinfeld) as the high-powered villain who's no match for Julia Roberts' badassery.
10. Any "Chick Flick"
Contrary to popular belief, just because a film focuses on female characters and issues doesn't mean it will appeal only to a female audience. Even if it does, there's nothing wrong with that, considering so many movies feature a predominantly male cast, focus on male issues, and therefore, appeal to a predominantly male audience. The films, however, are just called "movies."
While action thrillers and superhero chronicles have traditionally skewed male since the beginning of each genre, no one has ever labeled them "dick flicks" or, perhaps more appropriately, "prick flicks."
Yet, when a film stars a woman and includes a romantic theme — no matter how many other elements like her education, career, friendships impact her more — it automatically has to fight its way out of the "chick flick" box in which society packs it. So if these "chick flicks" do transcend a genre, it is an arbitrary and imaginary one.
Because no male genre equivalent for "chick flicks" exists, therein lies the problem and the solution. The next time someone discounts a favorite film as "just a chick flick," pull a Netflix and say, "Don't you mean a 'witty and daring comedy featuring a strong female lead'?"
Cover image via YouTube