Promising Young Woman: Ryan is Attracted to Kids. (700 words)
I’m not going to entirely analyse Promising Young Woman because the truth behind the story is probably taboo in our days and age. I’ll just point at something: Cassandra was seriously in love with her friend Nina. She most probably wanted to date her, to marry her etc… Just like Joe Macklemore III is in love with Alexander Monroe. What difference does it make you’ll ask me ? Well, it makes a taboo difference.
There are still things less taboo that we can all talk about without fear.
Giving another crispy example that behind the nicest, most successful heterosexual white guy probably lies a monstrous monster for example, will certainly not be problematic at all.
So. Ryan Cooper. The doctor in paediatrics whom Cassandra will date… is a paedophile… who sexually abuses kids… and then… fails to save them during surgery. I know it’s nightmarish. Please don’t hate me, it’s actually my girlfriend who spotted that horrible fact. But she’s right. Cooper is a paedophile and very probably a child murderer.
When Gail, Cassandra’s understanding and intelligent employer, meets Ryan Cooper, all that she has got to say to him is “stop killing kids.” She doesn’t praise him for being a paediatrician; she simply insults him and then makes disgusting remarks to discourage them from having sex. The scene is extremely strange. Gail is “out of character” and her behaviour is never explained afterwards. She knows that Ryan Cooper has paedophile tendencies and is probably a child abuser and murderer.
Gail is smart and funny up until suddenly she becomes an absolutely disgusting person in the presence of Ryan Cooper.
"So Ryan. Pediatric surgeaon uh. Do you ever killed any children ?" Why the suspicion in her voice ? Why the direct hostility ?
When Cassandra’s parents meet Ryan, their behaviour is extremely strange too. I’m not sure whether the father knows, but the mother does. The conversation is awkward, clearly there’s something wrong going on. Ryan makes an obvious joke but it falls entirely flat. Not because it’s a bad joke but because it relies on the idea that Ryan’s parents could only be proud that their son became a doctor. The problem is that, as Ryan probably became a paediatrician in order to be around kids, it’s very believable that his parents would have preferred him to become a DJ (his joke). Cassie’s mother asks “I’m confused. Are there different parts of the body on a child ?”
Clearly the diner is a fiasco but why would it be ? Cassie brings a young, cute, smiley, funny doctor. He is the cliché perfect son-in-law. Still, things go awkwardly wrong. Cassie's parents seem dissatisfied and Ryan keeps on repeating that the sauce is delicious because he can't find anything positive to say.
In the following scene, Ryan jokes about flirting with Cassie’s mother, getting her phone number. “Your mom is extremely hot.” The mother is played by Jennifer Coolidge, the woman who was called a MILF in America Pie, and who has sex with a young man of her son’s age. So, this is actually creepy to have Ryan make this joke about her because it suggests that there is some kind of truth in it. Ryan is attracted to Cassie’s mother. He is disoriented sexually. His sexuality integrates a huge age difference. It is quite imaginable that he himself was abused sexually as a kid.
And when it comes to age difference, it’s the same Ryan who will talk about his fear that if he kisses a woman in public, people could think it’s his daughter. “Stop kissing that child.” No normal man has that kind of anxieties.
It’s not something serious in itself but it simply has no reason to exist. If you spend time with a young woman, sure you might be worried about how people look at you. But if you’re dating a woman of an acceptable age, there’s no reason to think people might mistake her for a child. Ryan’s considerations and fears are telling.
When they talk about "going to the pharmacy for the first time", the movie has spectators wonder whether Cassie and Ryan are going to have sex as it's hard to imagine why they would go to a pharmacy beyond buying condoms. But the pharmacy is a shop that sells "toys" and sweats. Cassie and Ryan replace sex with something childish and immature.
More, Cassandra actually has some sort of immaturity about her. When Ryan enters the coffee shop for the first time, she’s shot in a specific manner that makes her look like a teenager in the body of a 30 years old. He’s attracted to her because she’s of the same age as he is but still has something of a child.
The first thing that truly made me react was when Ryan makes a joke about leaving early because one of the kids has leukemia and he cannot do anything for him.
The lack of sensitivity in the joke felt morbid even for a doctor who has to take things with distance. The thing is, if Ryan is a pedophile, he could very well perceive children as objects, things for him to toy with (just like he probably was toyed with).
Another weird element is Cassie spitting in Ryan’s coffee, a gesture that seems a little bit over the top in the context but a lot more understandable if she knows the kind of person he is.
It’s a common trope of romantic comedies to have the future lovers have an argument the first time they meet. Ryan and Cassie’s love story start with Cassie spitting in his coffee and then giving him a fake phone number. The fact that later on she accepts to date him is in complete contradiction with the whole idea behind her character: “Men shouldn’t insist.”
Also, Ryan never reacts to other people's bullying. Cassandra spits in his coffee, that's fine. He drinks it. Gail aggressively orders him to "stop killing children", he isn't hurt or annoyed. She deserves a slap in the face, he only says "that seems fair." Only a man who is guilty of the crime would cope with that kind of insults.
One of the points of making Ryan Cooper a sexual criminal is to underline that Cassie is not infallible. She’s smart, manipulative and ruthlessly seeks for justice. This can easily makes her look a bit like an infallible superhero that which she absolutely is not.
She blames others for not remembering what happened, for not remembering her friend’s name, for having witnessed what happened without intervening etc etc… we as spectators accept her wrongdoings as part of a revenge, but if she dates a pedophile who is in position to murder his victims and get away with it, something that everyone around her seems to suspect, well… the double standard slightly discredits her. And it should, because truly, Cassandra is a hypocrite. But that’s not the point I was trying to make in this article.