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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chick flick is a slang term, for the film genre catered specifically to women's interests, and is marketed toward women demographics. They generally tend to appeal more to a younger female audience and deal mainly with love and romance.[1][2] Although many types of films may be directed toward a female audience, the term "chick flick" is typically used only in reference to films that contain personal drama and emotion or themes that are relationship-based (although not necessarily romantic, as films may focus on parent-child or friend relationships). Chick flicks often are released en masse around Valentine's Day.[3]

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The term "chick flick" was not widely used until the 1980s and 1990s. It has its roots in the "women's pictures" of the early twentieth century, which portrays the woman as a victim and housewife, and later the film noir of the 1940s and early 1950s, which portrays the threat of sexualized women.[4][5][6] In the 1950s, many women who were in the workforce during World War II faced the transition back into the home. Brandon French notes that the women's films of the 1950s "shed light on a different cluster of issues and situations women faced in their transition from the forties to the sixties: romance, courtship, work, marriage, sex, motherhood, divorce, loneliness, adultery, alcoholism, widowhood, heroism, madness, and ambition."[7]

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), an early example of the chick flick

The film Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), commonly known as one of the "classic" films from the golden age of cinema, is sometimes considered an early chick flick due to common elements such as dealing with loneliness, obsessive materialism, and happy endings.[8][9] Author Molly Haskell has suggested that chick flicks are very different from the women's films of the 1940s and 1950s in that they now "sing a different tune." She feels that they are "more defiant and upbeat, post-modern and post-feminist.

In the United States in the 1980s, a succession of teenage drama pictures also labeled as chick flicks were released, many by director John Hughes. These often had a different and more realistic tone than previous chick flicks, with dramatic elements such as abortion and personal alienation being included.[8]

Several chick flicks have been patterned after the story of Cinderella and other fairy tales (e.g. A Cinderella Story (2004), Ever After (1998) ) and Pretty Woman (1990)), or even Shakespeare in the case of She's the Man (2006) and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). In addition, a large number are adapted from popular novels (e.g. The Princess Diaries (2001) and The Devil Wears Prada (2006)) and literary classics (e.g. Little Women (1994)). While most films that are considered chick flicks are lighthearted, some suspense films also fall under this category, such as What Lies Beneath (2000).

Evolution & Controversy

These works have risen since the 1980s, mostly noticed in the early 2000s, and continued to evolve through the 2010s and early 2020s. In its early development, the films were created as white-female-targeted films, primarily involving white-female characters, topics, and interests.[10]

As the genre developed, there was repetitiveness in the plot and characters of these productions. “Chick flicks” often began with single characters, who soon after unexpectedly meeting a suitable and charming significant other, their lives took a turn for the better.[11]

The first productions of this genre were not initially labeled as “chick flicks”; they were just known as “Girly Films”.[12]“What sets it apart from other films geared towards a female is its focus on consumer culture.”.[13] Iconic films of the genre such as Clueless (1995), The Princess Diaries (2001), and Mean Girls (2004) act as evidence of such. In all of them, buying feminine clothes, makeup, or shoes is portrayed as a large part of women’s identities. Women are often portrayed as overly emotional and dependent on men; reinforcing patriarchal societal expectations that women should prioritize finding a romantic partner and getting married.[14] These expectations can be interpreted from movies such as He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) and The Notebook (2004).

Many believe that the content of this genre in the industry is more inclusive than discriminating. Different varieties of the female protagonist and plot themes are being noted more often. The representation of women in noticeable male-dominated professions and/or positions is seen in films such as Legally Blonde (2001) and The Proposal (2009). There is a broadening of topics the films portray in films such as The Edge of Seventeen (2016) which “explores themes such as loss, grief, and depression, but in a dry, humorous and cutting fashion.”.[15] These films have become a vehicle for other issues in our present society including homophobia and women’s rights.[16] This can be seen in films including, but not limited to Love, Simon (2018) and Lady Bird (2017). The industry has evolved the genre from solely portraying soapy romance stories to a focus on more realistic hardships.

There is not doubt that “chick flicks” are misunderstood as simply appealing for audiences of the teen girl persuasion, and not a serious contender for awards and recognitions.[17] Sex and the City (1998-2004) – a “chick flick” series – was nominated for 54 Emmy Awards, 24 Golden Globe Awards, 11 Screen Actors Guild Awards, 10 Directors Guild of America Awards, 7 Satellite Awards, and 4 Producers Guild of America Awards.[18] Additional greatly successful “chick flicks” in the box office are Love Actually (2003), Notting Hill (1999), and Mamma Mia (2008).[19]

Critique of the genre

The term chick flick has generated several negative responses from the modern feminist community.[20] The word chick at the height of the women's liberation movement in the 1970s was considered an insult directed towards women.[21] “Chick,” was used to demean women, casting them as childlike, delicate, fluffy creatures in need of protection from men. [21] The affiliation of chick, with chick-flicks has resulted in an immediate negative response to many women and feminists. [21]

Chick-flicks are stuck with many negative stereotypes where women are typically portrayed with women who are klutzy, sassy, airheaded, etc. When a movie is branded with the title of ‘chick-flick,’ for many it diminishes the credibility of a film, inherently saying that the movie is cheesy, predictable and has a poor plot.[22] This labeling is specifically seen with movies that have subject matters that revolve around women, often reinforcing the idea that themes surrounding women in movies should not be taken seriously.[22] Most criticisms of the genre concentrate on the negative consequences that arise from gendering certain interests, in this case, film. Author of The Chick Flick Paradox: Derogatory? Feminist? or Both? Natalia Thompson states chick flicks are "an attempt to lump together an entire gender's interests into one genre."[23]

Many critics argue that unnecessary gendering can negatively affect many different social groups.[24] There is evidence from Russian social scientist Natal'ia Rimashevskaia that gender stereotypes further perpetuated by the media can lead to discrimination against women and limit their "human and intellectual potential."[25] More criticisms of the term arise from the actual content of the films in the chick flick genre and how the content affects society's perception of women. Some say that chick flicks are micro-aggressions actions or exchanges that degrade a person based on their membership in a "race, gender, age, and ability."[26]

Film critics take issue with the content most chick flicks have in common. Although the subcategories represent different plotlines, they all share several characteristics.[27] Many chick flicks can have the "ironic, self-deprecating tone" that film theorist Hilary Radner associates with chick lit. This tone is one of the genre's defining characteristics, and she argues many feel it lacks substance compared to other genres.[27] She says they follow “a set of narrative tropes,” which can be seen as “repeated film to film.”  Radner also goes on to say the genre is "incredibly heteronormative and white-washed."[27] These common characteristics of the genre can lead to criticism from minority groups and social justice activists.[27] It is often visible through the films and their tendency to use typecasting for their roles; because of this, actors such as Reece Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, Seth Rogan, and Sam Claflin fall into the category of “white-washing” the film. More issues with the genre emerge from the opinion that chick flicks play to every woman's "patriarchal unconscious." Radner furthers that claim by saying that it “constitutes a very attractive–and hence often exploited–version of feminine identity."[28]

Some argue against the criticism of chick flicks. Researcher Sarah-Mai Dang acknowledges that the films can be “criticized as threatening backlash to the achievements to feminism”, however, she contends that they can be celebrated for their representation of female freedom.[29] Dang further proclaims that it gives space for the female voice to be present or heard in contemporary work like chick flicks.[29]

Diversity of the Genre

Chick-flicks are often also lumped in with the genre of romantic comedies. This narrows what can or cannot be considered a chick-flick, with many people believing that for a film to be considered a chick-flick it must have romance and comedy. There are key differences in how a romantic comedy v.s. a chick-flick is marketed. A romantic comedy is often produced/marketed with men in mind. However, a chick-flick is “a motion picture intended to appeal especially to women.” [30]

More recently, women have been wondering why is it that romance is the only thing that is marketed to women, when in fact there are many other themes, topics and issues women could relate to? Due to there not being a “dude-flick” category, many individuals are not asking if there is a need to associate a movie genre to women, and then make them feel guilty for liking it.[31] Others argue that chick-flicks have been a continuation of the “chick cultural explosion,” which reflected and promoted the new visibility of women in popular culture. Instead, chick-flicks were grouped with the product of chick culture and the deliberate decision to address female audiences, meaning that womens significance in contemporary culture was increasing.[32]

The typical narrative in a chick-flick of falling in love has now been adapted, and instead there has been an upward trend of including a greater representation of women in chick-flicks. Women who instead focus on their professional life, women who reject beauty standards and feminist themes have all been seen in more recent chick flicks.[32] There have also been chick flicks that aim to raise questions about the many choices women must confront such as the possibility of having it all, and the different effects of beauty standards in films such as Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), The Princess Diaries (2001), and In Her Shoes (2005).[32]

There has been little to no emphasis on including individuals from ethnic/racial minorities in chick-flicks. If an individual who is an ethnic/racial minority is cast as a lead role, their co-star will usually not be an ethnic minority. In the movie Hitch where Will Smith was cast as the main male lead, and Eva Mendes was cast as the female lead was a deliberate decision. [33] A black or white woman was not cast in the role, as Will Smith believed that a black couple would have put off audiences worldwide while a interracial couple with a black male lead and white female lead would have offended viewers in the U.S.[34] Casting Eva Mendes was seen as a solution because a Latina female lead and a black male lead was not considered taboo in the U.S.[35] We see this type of casting with many different chick-flicks such as Upgraded (2024)having a Latina female lead and an English male lead. This is an ongoing issue that raises questions about racism and issues of ethnic minority inclusion in the film industry, with much progressing needing to be made in showcases people from ethnic minorities and displating LGBTQ+ relationships. [1]


The following films have been characterized as chick flicks by some commentators:

See also


  1. ^ Simpson, John, ed. (2009). Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, on CD-ROM Version 4.0. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-956383-8.
  2. ^ Stevenson, Angus; Lindberg, Christine A., eds. (2010). New Oxford American Dictionary, Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 300. ISBN 978-0-19-539288-3.
  3. ^ Kaufman, Amy (February 6, 2013). "'Safe Haven' premiere: Don't call it a 'chick flick,' please" – via LA Times.
  4. ^ Ferriss, Suzanne and Mallory Young (2008). Chick Flicks: Contemporary Women at the Movies. New York: Routledge. p. 14.
  5. ^ Thompson, Natalia M. (January 1, 2007). "The Chick Flick Paradox: Derogatory? Feminist? Or Both?". Off Our Backs. 37 (1): 43–45. JSTOR 20838769.
  6. ^ Kaplan, E. Ann (1983). Women & Film: Both Sides of the Camera. New York: Methuen, Inc. pp. 6. ISBN 0416317502.
  7. ^ French, Brandon (1978). On The Verge of Revolt: Women in American Films of the Fifties. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. pp. xxii–xxiii. ISBN 0804422206.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Eber, Hailey. "Our Valentine to You and Yours: 10 Chick-Flicks that Don't Totally Suck". ReelzChannel. Archived from the original on December 29, 2010. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Halpern, Michelle (October 27, 2009). "The Best Chick-Flicks: Then and Now". Archived from the original on September 15, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  10. ^ "Postfeminism: The Essential Evolution of Chick Flicks". Arcadia. January 15, 2023. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
  11. ^ Sannappanavar, Trisha. "The Notebook of Gender Stereotypes: An Analysis of Chick Flicks". El Estoque. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
  12. ^ Radner, Hilary (2011). Neo-feminist cinema: girly films, chick flicks and consumer culture. New York, [New York] London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis group. ISBN 978-0-415-87773-2.
  13. ^ Radner, Hilary (2011). Neo-feminist cinema: girly films, chick flicks and consumer culture. New York, [New York] London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis group. ISBN 978-0-415-87773-2.
  14. ^ Sannappanavar, Trisha. "The Notebook of Gender Stereotypes: An Analysis of Chick Flicks". El Estoque. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
  15. ^ Soanes, Naomi (February 16, 2018). "How Did the Chick Flick Suddenly Become a Critically Acclaimed Genre?". One Room With A View. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
  16. ^ Soanes, Naomi (February 16, 2018). "How Did the Chick Flick Suddenly Become a Critically Acclaimed Genre?". One Room With A View. Retrieved March 6, 2024.
  17. ^ Soanes, Naomi (February 16, 2018). "How Did the Chick Flick Suddenly Become a Critically Acclaimed Genre?". One Room With A View. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
  18. ^ "List of awards and nominations received by Sex and the City", Wikipedia, June 6, 2023, retrieved March 5, 2024
  19. ^ "Top 100 Chick Flicks". IMDb. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
  20. ^ Radner, Hilary (2011). Neo-feminist cinema: girly films, chick flicks and consumer culture. New York, [New York] London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis group. ISBN 978-0-415-87773-2.
  21. ^ a b c Ferriss, Suzanne. "CHICK FLICKS AND CHICK CULTURE".
  22. ^ a b Miyazato, Christine (November 16, 2019). "Reasons I Detest the Phrase "Chick Flick"". The ‘F’ Word. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  23. ^ Thompson, Natalia M. (2007). "The Chick Flick Paradox: Derogatory? Feminist? Or Both?". Off Our Backs. 37 (1): 43–45. ISSN 0030-0071. JSTOR 20838769.
  24. ^ Rimashevskaia, Natal'Ia (May 2008). "Gender Stereotypes and the Logic of Social Relations". Russian Social Science Review. 49 (3): 35–48. doi:10.1080/10611428.2008.11065289. ISSN 1061-1428. S2CID 219319923.
  25. ^ Rimashevskaia, Natal'Ia (May 2008). "Gender Stereotypes and the Logic of Social Relations". Russian Social Science Review. 49 (3): 35–48. doi:10.1080/10611428.2008.11065289. ISSN 1061-1428. S2CID 219319923.
  26. ^ Cousins, Linwood (2014). Encyclopedia of Human Services and Diversity. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks California 91320 United States: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:10.4135/9781483346663. ISBN 978-1-4522-8748-5.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  27. ^ a b c d Radner, Hilary (2011). Neo-feminist cinema: girly films, chick flicks and consumer culture. New York, [New York] London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis group. ISBN 978-0-415-87773-2.
  28. ^ Erens, Patricia, ed. (1990). Issues in Feminist Film Criticism. A Midland Book. Bloomington, Ind. (u.a.): Indiana Univ.-Press. ISBN 978-0-253-31964-7.
  29. ^ a b Dang, Sarah-Mai (2017). Gossip, women, film, and chick flicks. Palgrave pivot. London: palgrave macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-56017-9.
  30. ^ "Chick flick – THIS IS GENDERED". Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  31. ^ Miyazato, Christine (November 16, 2019). "Reasons I Detest the Phrase "Chick Flick"". The ‘F’ Word. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  32. ^ a b c Ferriss, Suzanne. "CHICK FLICKS AND CHICK CULTURE".
  33. ^ "Was race an issue in 'Hitch' casting?". February 24, 2005. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  34. ^ "Was race an issue in 'Hitch' casting?". February 24, 2005. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  35. ^ "Was race an issue in 'Hitch' casting?". February 24, 2005. Retrieved March 7, 2024.
  36. ^ "Entertainment".
  37. ^ a b c Samantha (May 31, 2020). "55 Best Chick Flicks Of All Time". Perhaps Maybe Not. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  38. ^ "a rare commodity, a military chick-flick".
  39. ^ Jacobson, Colin (April 13, 2007). "An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)". Retrieved August 22, 2011. Officer manages to be one of those rare films that deftly treads the line between guy movie and "chick-flick".
  40. ^ a b c d "Terms of Endearment". New York University: Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database. Retrieved September 30, 2010. Terms of Endearment shares with films Beaches, Steel Magnolias, and One True Thing the popular status of melodramatic 'chick-flick'.
  41. ^ a b Morgan, Kim. "Top 10 Chick-Flicks". Archived from the original on December 3, 2010. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  42. ^ a b c d e f Cieply, Michael (April 9, 2008). "Wary Hollywood Plans More Chick-Flicks (Hoping to Lure the Guys)". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
  43. ^ "Top 10 Chick Flicks That Men Secretly Love - Film Junk".
  44. ^ "just for Graham Hartle, his favourite chick-flick". Archived from the original on August 18, 2012.
  45. ^ Ellison, Richie. "A chick-flick turned b-movie road adventure". LoveFilm. Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  46. ^ James Berardinelli (1995). "Waiting to Exhale". Retrieved October 2, 2010. No doubt about it -- this is a "women's movie" (or, as it's alternatively referred to, a "chick-flick")
  47. ^ Spindle, Les (August 5, 2009). "The First Wives Club -- Theater Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 2, 2010. The menopausal chick-flick "The First Wives Club" (1996), based on the novel by Olivia Goldsmith, primarily demonstrated that mediocrity needn't preclude boxoffice success
  48. ^ a b c d e f g h "'Twilight' is the new breed of chick-flick". November 25, 2008. Archived from the original on December 29, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  49. ^ a b c d James Berardinelli; Roger Ebert (2005). Reel views 2: the ultimate guide to the best 1,000 modern movies on DVD and video. Justin, Charles & Co. pp. 243, 304, 347–348, 370. ISBN 978-1-932112-40-5.
  50. ^ St. John, Nina. "10 Best Chick-Flick Quotes". Screen Junkies. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  51. ^ a b c d e "Memorable and Great "Chick" Flicks". Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  52. ^ Boursaw, Jane Louise. "Top 10 Chick Flicks Bridget Jones Diary (2001)". Kaboose. Archived from the original on May 21, 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2013.
  53. ^ Adeojo, Layomi (October 3, 2020). "More than just a chick flick: Why 'Mean Girls' is a cinematic masterpiece". The Miami Hurricane.
  54. ^ Beyrer, Bill. "The Notebook - Review". Retrieved October 2, 2010. The Notebook is a chick-flick. Not just any kind of chick-flick, but the kind of chick-flick your parents would like.
  55. ^ Oloffson, Kristi (May 25, 2010). "Top 10 Worst Chick Flicks". Time. If it were ever possible to cram all the glittering boy-meets-girl, high-school-love-story stereotypes into one movie, A Cinderella Story does it in spades. The 2004 movie stars Hilary Duff, whose father dies in an earthquake, forcing her to work in a diner for her evil stepmother who keeps her from chasing her college dreams. She meets a boy (Chad Michael Murray) online, but he's in the cool crowd and she doesn't fit in (even though she's beautiful and smart). They agree to meet on the school dance floor, where she wears a mask barely covering her eyes so he magically can't tell who she really is (even though you can see her entire face). Duff's performance in the movie snagged her a Razzie nomination in 2005 for Worst Actress. Did anyone expect anything more? TIME takes a look at some other not-so-great films that have been cruelly pitched at female audiences
  56. ^ a b Abramowitz, Rachel (February 14, 2009). "'Chick flicks' are really starting to click". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
  57. ^ Mele, Rick. "The Proposal". Retrieved October 2, 2010. this is a chick-flick so Andrew's choice and what yours might have been aren't necessarily going to match up
  58. ^ "The Movie Report Archive: June 2009". June 19, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2010. (quote) there is something to be said for such a relentlessly by-the-numbers chick-flick programmer that is nonetheless a breezily enjoyable sit
  59. ^ "How 50 Shades of Grey mirrors scenes from other popular chick-flicks". 2015. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
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