Girl crush (n.) – Feelings of admiration for another woman based on her appearance, personality, achievements, etc. Though completely nonsexual, girl crushes often inspire similar feelings to a blossoming romance: giggles, shyness, compliments, and the desire to become this woman’s best friend.
We (happily) devote a lot of energy to admiring the looks and accomplishments of young male actors, musicians, and celebrities. But there are equally talented women who deserve our attention, as well. Now, each week in Girl Crushable, we’ll highlight a woman — famous or not, hell, even fictional characters — who has impressed and inspired us. This week it’s Maggie Carey, a screenwriter whose new project The Hand Job subverts the “teenager trying to lose his virginity” trope by substituting a girl for the sexually-adventurous lead.
The Hand Job isn’t a new project; in 2009, the script made it onto the illustrious Black List, that year’s list of the best unproduced scripts. I actually read about it back then and remember being floored that someone was finally writing a screenplay about a girl curious about sex and willing to take matters, er, into her own hands.
Pulling from her own memories of oversexed adolescence, Carey gives us Brandy, a Type-A 17-year-old who makes a laundry list of sex acts to complete by the end of the summer. Brandy is very much like Carey was at that time: A young woman who was convinced, thanks to movies like Sixteen Candles, that she would have sex on prom night, only to be bitterly disappointed when such milestones came and went and she was still inexperienced.
When she had her first experience with any sexual activity, Carey told The A.V. Club, it really stuck with her:
“I don’t know if men understand it like women do, but for women, we’ve all had that experience: the first time you give a hand job, or the first-time blowjob. I know that sex is usually the first big thing, but for me, when I gave my first hand job, it was a memory that never left me.”
Carey had to do some rewrites to the script, but it looks as if The Hand Job is finally happening. Parks and Recreation‘s Aubrey Plaza has signed on to play Brandy, causing what seems to be a snowball effect with other big stars signing on. Carey’s husband Bill Hader, who has a part as Brandy’s lifeguard boss, recently ran through the laundry list of actors associated with the project: Alia Shawkat, Mae Whitman, Johnny Simmons, Donald Glover, Connie Britton, and Andy Samberg.
But even despite these great actors’ involvement, the story has to float — and it does, according to the glowing responses to a staged reading Carey held at the Austin Film Festival in late 2010. Carey is no stranger to female sexuality: Her 2001 documentary Ladyporn (which followed her attempts with co-writer Elena Carr to make a porn of their own, with hilarious results) won the Audience Award at SXSW. She understands how to take this charged, emotional content outside of the male sphere and reposition such stories primarily for women, while making them still sexy.