I saw Bridesmaids in the theaters and I still distinctly remember it for two reasons. First, it starts off with a sex scene, and I was a high schooler sitting right next to my mom, trying desperately to hide my embarrassment. And second, it was fucking hilarious.
As students at an all-girls high school, my classmates and I were obsessed. A friend of mine filmed a video of herself sitting atop one of the school bathroom sinks, bellowing Melissa McCarthy’s line, “It’s coming out of me like lava!” from the infamous food poisoning scene. “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips reentered the popular consciousness, so much so that it became our theme song at our retreat that year.
The film premiered 10 years ago this month, and while it’s depressing just how groundbreaking an all-woman ensemble comedy felt in recent history, its near-universal acclaim is still heartening. Roger Ebert declared that Bridesmaids “definitively proves that women are the equal of men in vulgarity, sexual frankness, lust, vulnerability, overdrinking and insecurity,” while Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams dubbed it a “benchmark for female comedy.” The Annie Mumolo- and Kristen Wiig-penned movie nabbed two Academy Award nominations, including Best Supporting Actress for Melissa McCarthy and Best Original Screenplay.
That’s not to mention the hefty box office haul: Bridesmaids became the top-grossing Judd Apatow production at the time, showing just how starved the public was for gender parity in comedy. The movie arguably paved the way for other woman-centered comedies in the 2010s, from the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot to television series like Broad City. Wiig and Mumolo even recently teamed up again to write and star in the vacation comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.
Accolades aside, what about the bridesmaids themselves? Bride-to-be Lillian (Maya Rudolph) assembles a “stone-cold pack of weirdos” to accompany her down the aisle: maid of honor and main character Annie (Wiig), her future sister-in-law Megan (McCarthy), her cousin Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), her work friend Becca (Ellie Kemper) and her husband’s boss’ wife, the condescending Helen (Rose Byrne). This motley crew was made for hijinks, but what about their actual bridesmaid chops? As someone planning a wedding, I started looking at them as if I were Lillian. Which of these women would actually be supportive at a fitting? Who would be the most fun at a bachelorette party? Who would hold up Lillian’s wedding dress when she had to pee without embarrassment?
After thorough and scientific analysis, I’ve definitively ranked the bridesmaids of Bridesmaids, from worst to best.
What is Becca even bringing to the table? She’s a repressed Disney adult, which means her idea of fun is a Pixar-themed bridal shower. She doesn’t even seem to really know or care about Lillian that much, which makes her an even odder choice for a bridesmaid. If I were Lillian, I’d rather make friends with the water cooler at work. Anyway, Becca is easily dead last.
There’s no denying that Helen pulls out all the stops for Lillian, from the lavish engagement party to the over-the-top Parisian bridal shower to the eye-wateringly expensive wedding ceremony. In spite of her vision and celebrity connections, though, she’s an utter asshole. She’s not maid of honor, but clearly wants to be, and makes it her mission to belittle Annie. Being a good bridesmaid involves teamwork, and therefore respecting everyone’s various budgets. Again and again Helen is a rich bitch who doesn’t care if she makes Annie feel uncomfortable about a pricey bridesmaid dress or being left in coach while the rest of them fly first-class to Vegas. She also completely hijacks Lillian’s wedding in her desperate quest for approval. In short, Helen makes it all about herself. Bad bridesmaid.
Rita is here for a good time. She wants balls in her face, and she’s not afraid to ask for them. On the other hand, she can be a bit of a bummer if you end up trapped in a conversation with her about her sons’ omnipresent semen or her husband’s constant horniness. Rita occupies clear middle ground territory.
Is Annie’s life a shitshow? Yes. Does she kind of ruin most of Lillian’s bridal events? Sure. But she loves Lillian, and undeniably knows her best friend better than anyone else. Annie is the one who gets Lillian out of bed when she hides in her apartment on the day of the wedding, she’s the one that makes that frilly dress look decent, she’s the one who is there for Lillian even after all of her self-centered antics. That’s not even to mention the fact that Annie had the brilliant idea for a Parisian bridal shower and everyone seemed to love that Brazilian restaurant she brought them to… until they all got food poisoning. Hanging out with Annie may be messy, but it’ll be memorable.
Megan may seem like a bit of a dark horse here. After all, she’s the one who takes nine party favor puppies and puts a loaded gun in her brother’s carry-on luggage for the most frightening prank of all time. At the end of the day, though, she’s fully behind Lillian. “I love him but he’s a fucking asshole,” Megan says of her brother when Lillian’s out of earshot. She’s a straight-talker who keeps the party exciting, whether discussing her telepathic connection with dolphins or hitting on an air marshal. Most importantly, though, she brings heart. Dougie’s sister is a hype woman not just for Lillian, but for other members of the bridal party, too. Megan gives Annie the tough love she needs to fight for herself. That’s someone you want standing next to you on one of the biggest days of your life.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast, Hibernophile and contributing writer for Paste’s music and comedy sections. She also exercises her love for reality TV at HelloGiggles every now and then. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.