Why Miranda Priestly Was Not The Villain

Jan 22, 2023

Adapted from the novel of the same name, The Devil Wears Prada premiered in 2006 as a glamorous comedy offering a look into the competitive and hectic world of fashion. The 2000s saw the peak of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the advent of Teen Vogue Magazine, and a tabloid obsession with the fashion choices of pop culture’s prominent figures. The Devil Wears Prada was thus primed to be a smash hit, and indeed garnered over $326 million at the box office. From the dazzling glamour, to the standout performances, to the relatable themes of balancing one’s work and personal lives, The Devil Wears Prada has proven to be a perennially enjoyable feature, and something of a comfort movie for fashionistas.

Much of the struggles faced by the main character, Andy, is a result of the iron fist which with her boss rules the offices of Runway Magazine. Cold, shrewd, and candid, Editor-in-Chief Miranda Priestly seems to make a sport of terrorizing her employees, making them prove their worth through quiet and laborious subordination. Nevertheless, professionals across the fashion industry laud and respect Miranda, something that is initially baffling to the unexpected fashion industry fledgling Andy. Miranda Priestly is largely depicted as the villain in the film, but this is something of an unfair characterization. In objectively analyzing the film, it is evident that Andy’s friends were the true villains of her story.

The Devil Wears Prada is About Stepping Into Adulthood in More Ways Than One
Recent Northwestern University graduate Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) has moved to the Big Apple in hopes of becoming a journalist. Living with her aspiring chef boyfriend, Nate, Andy struggles to find work in her preferred niche in the competitive city. She is unexpectedly sent by human resources to interview at Runway Magazine for the role of personal assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), a job she lands despite a lack of experience or even interest in the fashion industry. Miranda takes a chance with Andy, who initially struggles to adapt to the office culture of a fashion magazine.

To the chagrin of her friends and boyfriend, Andy begins to adapt to her environment on account of growing respect for what the people at Runway do. With the help of her new friend and mentor Nigel, she ditches the infamous lumpy cerulean sweater and such in favor of shapely black silhouettes and Chanel accessories, earning the respect of even her staunchest rivals at the magazine. Nigel warns her, when her personal life is in shambles, she should be due for a promotion. His warning proves true, as Andy’s success and growing appreciation for her work create a rift in her personal relationships. As Andy continues to grow into the role of Miranda Priestly’s right-hand woman, she becomes increasingly disillusioned with the fashion world, and with who she has become. She ultimately turns her back on this new life, embracing her original dreams of being a journalist and falling back into the arms of her critical boyfriend.

Related: Funny Face: A Fashion Masterpiece Long Before Devil Wears Prada

The Relationship Between Miranda and Andy

20th Century Fox

Miranda reveals in the end that she sees a great deal of herself in Andy, but it is a long and difficult road to this point in their relationship. Do not be mistaken; this is not a defense of Miranda Priestly. When she meets Andy, she is distinctly abrasive and downright mean to the young employee, insulting her from the outset during a hasty job interview. She is dismissive of Andy, willfully and blatantly disrespecting her at any given chance. Nigel has his own take on the matter, explaining that Miranda’s treatment of Andy is a reaction to the new employee’s open disdain for their industry. When Andy learns to embrace fashion and have respect for the hard work and artistry it takes to put together the Runway publication, Nigel advises, then will her notorious boss come to value her. This proves true, and Andy begins to have a more sympathetic view of and appreciation for Miranda as their working relationship grows more open and trusting. In the end, Andy greatly respects Miranda despite realizing that she does not want to live like her.

Related: Shows to Watch if You Love Fashion

Why Andy’s Friends Were The Worst

20th Century Fox

Andy’s close circle consists of young professionals finding their way to success and work-life balance in New York City. The small posse is made up of Andy’s boyfriend, Nate, and their two closest friends, Lily and Doug. The group is unanimous in their derision toward Runway magazine and the sort of women who work at such an establishment. Andy calls the women at the office “Clackers”, on account of the noise their stiletto shoes make against the floor as they walk through the building. Andy’s criticism of women who enjoy fashion, in contrast to her own nonchalant attitude toward things of this nature, which she finds superficial. Nate seems to very much enjoy putting down these types of women as well, and becomes notably upset when Andy starts to defend the women she used to poke fun at. All of a sudden, a change of wardrobe and commendable commitment to professional advancement is a despicable trait for her to have. Nate quips that he could respect what she does if she just did it with a bit of “integrity”, leaving the viewers befuddled as to whether being good at your job shows a lack of integrity. Nate’s disapproval reeks of misogyny as he continually throws temper tantrums over his girlfriend being hot and successful.

Lily and Doug are perhaps not as misogynistic as Nate, but they are equally un-supportive. When Andy comes bearing expensive gifts, Lily and Doug proclaim how they love her job. In nearly the same breath, they put that job in jeopardy by immaturely tossing her pager around when Miranda calls. Their way of saying thank you was to put her job and thus career at risk, because fashion is silly anyway, right? Andy’s friends and boyfriend never step beyond themselves to ask Andy what truly makes her happy, what her new interests are and what they mean to her, and how recent professional developments are shaping her goals and dreams. In fact, they grant Andy almost no room for character development and growth. When Lily sees Christian Thompson flirting with Andy, she scolds her and bemoans that she no longer recognizes her. It is valid to be concerned about Nate’s feelings; he is her friend too; but if Lily was a genuine friend to Andy, she would be less judgmental and more open to supporting Andy’s changing wants and needs. “The Andy I know is madly in love with Nate,” Lily retorts, as if one of Andy’s main identifiers in terms of who she is as a person should be the man she dates.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the film’s final scenes is Andy’s return to Nate, and thus her concession that he and her friends were right all along. Andy was fully in her right to part ways with the fashion industry, but this does not mean that the people in her life weren’t equally toxic.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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