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Best of the Decade: How Bridesmaids broke the mold for female-driven comedy

November 26, 2019 at 02:00 PM EST

To celebrate the end of the 2010s, Entertainment Weekly’s Must List is looking back at the best pop culture that changed pop culture in movies, TV, music, and more. (Catch up on our list so far, which includes the MCU’s big Snap and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s history-making hit.) Here, a toast to Bridesmaids and its ladies who made us laugh.

Yes, it had both rom and com (and, among the other bodily fluids splattered across one unforgettable scene, vom). But Bridesmaids was a movie that refused in almost every other way to adhere to the conventions of Hollywood — not only in its left-field casting and wildly scatological script, but in the very idea of what a female-driven comedy could be.

SNL alums Kristen Wiig (who also cowrote the screenplay with Annie Mumolo) and Maya Rudolph brought their real-life chemistry to the screen as, respectively, a flailing Milwaukee cake-maker and her newly engaged best friend; Jon Hamm was the jackhole that dating nightmares are made of, and Chris O’Dowd the improbable Irish dreamboat.

A crew of then-little-known TV actors — including Rose Byrne as a deliciously passive-aggressive Stepford princess, Wendy Mclendon-Covey as a put-upon mom, and walking id-ball Melissa McCarthy, who stormed every scene like a human hurricane in pearls and a poly-blend golf shirt — rounded out the wedding party. (McCarthy’s role, in fact, was one of the last to get cast; at one point director Paul Feig considered cutting the part entirely.)

Together they ate bad Brazilian beef, boarded an ill-fated flight to Vegas, and took home way too many party-favor puppies from the bridal shower; there were screaming fights in a chocolate fountain and a country-club face-off from hell. (“I’ve seen better tennis playing in a tampon commercial.”)

It took two full days of shooting in downtown Los Angeles to film what would become the movie’s gag-reflex centerpiece, essentially a full-body exorcism in a bridal boutique. “My stunt person was Angelina Jolie’s stunt-person,” Rudolph told EW earlier this year. “I was like, “Stunt for what? What are we doing here, guys?” I had knee-pads on. It definitely wasn’t comfortable.” Feig is still proud: I’ve never heard a test audience laugh as hard as when Maya sinks down in the street.”

But Bridesmaids was never about any one scene; instead, it delivered what only the best comedies can: the gift of pure, uncalculated chemistry. “It felt like you were at camp,” Ellie Kemper, who played Becca, a Pixar-loving naif aching to tap into her inner sex panther, remembers. “You were making a movie with your friends.” Watching it felt, by proxy, like being friends with them too.

Related content:

‘We didn’t want to wallow in grossness’: An oral history of Bridesmaids

Here’s how much it would cost to live in 6 classic rom-coms

Paul Feig explains why Bridesmaids hasn’t gotten a sequel

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