The Atlantic Declares ‘When Harry Met Sally’ Sexist, ‘Quiet Cruelty’

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc./Castle Rock Entertainment

So you thought that When Harry Met Sally — the classic 80s rom-com which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary with a competition at Katz’s deli in New York to see who could do the best fake orgasm — was a triumph for its writer Nora Ephron, its star Meg Ryan, and the depiction of rounded, female characters generally?

Think again, sexist bigot!

In fact — so we learn from The Atlantic‘s resident kill-joy movie analyst Megan Garber — When Harry Met Sally set back the cause of feminism by years thanks to its crass invention of a term which has haunted womankind ever since: “High maintenance.”

The phrase comes from an observation Harry makes to Sally while they are watching Casablanca. Ingrid Bergman, he says, is ‘low maintenance.’

“There are two kinds of women,” Harry explains, anticipating her question: “high-maintenance and low-maintenance.”

“And Ingrid Bergman is low-maintenance?”

“An L-M, definitely,” Harry replies.

“Which one am I?”

Harry has anticipated this question, too — of course Sally would wonder. “You’re the worst kind,” he says, coolly. “You’re high-maintenance, but you think you’re low-maintenance.”

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