I Don’t Know How She Does It: Gratingly Outdated Comedy About Working Mums
Kate (Parker) is a financial analyst with two kids and an out-of-work husband (Kinnear) that she
has to juggle around her hectic, interstate work schedule. She tries to keep
both sides of her life together as she powers through the biggest deal of her
career while struggling with feelings of guilt for being so reliant on the
babysitter and her smartphone.
Hendricks plays Allison, Kate’s best friend and a working single
mother. Her role is pretty small but she does the best with her mediocre lines
and is responsible for every single genuine laugh. While Parker’s take on the
male-female double standards is gratingly self-absorbed and naive, Hendricks delivers
her lines with a dash of good-natured irony.
You can’t laugh at Kate because she’s so earnest and unlike Allison, she
isn’t in on the joke. She actually believes that the problem lies more with her
inability to be the perfect superwoman rather than her firm’s dehumanizing work
policies. Not to mention; it takes Kate the whole film to finally stand up for
her rights, and even then she does it in a questioning tone with a bunch of
cutesy thank-you’s tacked onto the end. So basically, our protagonist is an
image-obsessed, self-absorbed, spineless workaholic that we’re supposed to care
about because she’s drunk on the joys of motherhood.
I Don’t Know How She Does It is pretty blatant propaganda for these aforementioned joys. It’s the
film equivalent of having a gun put to your head by someone who is intent on
getting you to understand that women are incomplete if they’re not mothers. If
you’re the kind of person who’s never seen the appeal of kids, you’ll find the
dissonance between Kate’s frazzled state and joyful words evidence of severe
In addition, the complete 180-degree-turn made by Kate’s
assistant Momo (Munn) from anti-kids to pro-kids is nonsensical and just
further solidifies the feeling that you’re being preached at. This preaching is
already exasperated by the frequent interludes where the characters talk to the camera, usually about how amazing Kate’s juggling act is, in addition to the
near-constant flow of voiceover narration.
However, the film’s worst offense is the sheer amount of stereotypes
that it propagates. For example; all women want babies even if they think they
don’t. Men are assertive while women roll with the punches. Women who like to
bake are judgmental shrews. You name it, it’s in here and for a film that
supposedly champions working mothers; it manages to thoroughly alienate every
other type of woman. The cherry on top is the fact that not once is Kate’s
privilege addressed. She’s white and rich and so is her husband; a little
perspective would be nice.