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‘Fair Play’ Exposes How Romances With Envious Narcissists Turn out to be Deadly Power Struggles

Netflix’s recent psychological thriller “Fair Play” sheds light on the role that misogyny, gender roles, and even narcissism plays in modern romantic relationships and the workplace, turning would-be whirlwind romances into destructive power plays. The initially steamy and sultry dynamic between Emily, played by Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor and Luke, played by Aleden Ehrenreich, dramatically shifts when Emily is rewarded a promotion as an alternative of Luke on the cutthroat hedge fund, One Crest Capital, where they each work. This presents a damper on their relationship as Luke becomes envious and threatened, feeling visibly emasculated by Emily’s newfound power. In a series of escalating events, what was once a romantic engagement transforms right into a chaotic bloodbath. Instead of being a supportive partner, Luke attempts to sabotage Emily and – spoiler alert – inevitably fails in spectacular fashion.

Fair Play Subverts Gender Roles

“Fair Play” effectively toys with gender tropes and stereotypes because it places Emily in power. After Emily is promoted as an alternative of Luke, she’s the one who struts into the office and places her briefcase on her recent desk with the most effective views. She’s the one who comes home stumbling drunk after an evening out with the boys and going to the strip club along with her male colleagues, throwing dollar bills on the strippers and exchanging lewd sex stories for some good old “male bonding.” She’s the one seen canoodling along with her fellow employees, getting a bit too touchy-feely for Luke’s comfort and making him feel insecure about his position of their relationship in addition to his status within the workplace. She’s the one picking up late night work calls during sex. This inverts the same old tropes and displays of masculinity we’re used to seeing within the workplace and romantic relationships, showing us what traditional “masculinity” looks like when it’s embodied by a lady, even when she is feminine-presenting. Yet Emily can be surrounded by the rampant misogyny in her toxic workplace, which reminds the viewer that regardless of how powerful of a task she inhabits, she’s going to still be “reminded” of her “true” place in society – whether it’s her boss outrightly calling her horrifically demeaning names when she’s lost the corporate money or her male co-workers laughing concerning the prospect of her sleeping her option to the highest. Although her boss doesn’t exploit her sexually, Emily learns that she is barely there to profit him and shall be demeaned and abused when she makes a mistake in ways her male colleagues won’t be.

Narcissistic Abuse and Malicious Envy

The misogyny and narcissistic envy Emily encounters within the workplace is barely augmented by the sabotage she experiences in her romantic relationship with Luke. Luke begins covertly insulting her in an try and make her feel less confident and deflated in her recent position after initially pretending to be completely satisfied for her. Narcissists will be male or female, but there may be a certain way misogyny can present itself in terms of male narcissists. According to researchers, narcissism in men is linked with hostility toward heterosexual women (it’s possible this shows up as more internalized misogyny in narcissistic women, though further studies should be conducted on narcissistic women). Both female and male narcissists can experience malicious envy which compels them to attempt to sabotage others because of their resentment.

Luke’s escalating aggression and reactions to Emily’s success throughout the movie represents an age-old double standard. When a person gets promoted, his romantic relationships generally thrive and his romantic options get enhanced. When a lady gets promoted, unless she has a high-quality and secure partner, she is commonly punished (and that is supported by quite a few studies) by society and by her romantic partners, especially if her partner is narcissistic. Whereas men are expected to be breadwinners, a successful woman often has to sacrifice some aspect of herself, forced to “select” whether she wants to speculate in her profession or a romantic relationship, often with a partner who wants her to dim her light.

Emily notes this double standard with precision when she identifies how she lovingly had sex with Luke after they each thought he was the one getting promoted – whereas Luke actually withholds physical affection and emotional attention away from her when she’s actually promoted. For a lady, getting a promotion or achieving a better level of success than her partner is depicted as a double bind: as something that, while enormously powerful, also has the ability to deflate her. Unlike Luke, Emily is conditioned by society to feel ashamed of her achievements reasonably than celebrated, wary that her accomplishments could affect her romantic relationship negatively – which it does because of these double standards.

You see Luke berate Emily throughout the movie for daring to achieve disturbing ways. He first starts sneakily criticizing Emily, telling her she dresses like a cupcake and questioning the best way she presents herself at work. These initial “microaggressions” turn out to be heightened. He withdraws and withholds from her sexually, seemingly feeling too emasculated to “perform” within the bedroom in response to her now being the breadwinner of the connection. This is unfortunately a reality that many successful women encounter after they are with narcissistic or toxic partners – they sense their partner lose romantic attraction as they turn out to be more successful not because there’s anything incorrect with them, but reasonably because their partners possess a toxic mindset about who “gets” to achieve success.  Rather than an equal partnership, narcissists are curious about being – and remaining – on top, and can go thus far as to devalue and sabotage their partners in doing so. This can include tactics resembling depriving them of sleep before big interviews or exams with crazymaking arguments, spreading rumors or gossip that harms their repute, isolating them from profession or financial opportunities, or belittling their abilities and natural talents.

Double Standards About How Successful Women and Successful Men Are Treated Are Exposed

Instead of celebrating her profession like many ladies would have fun their partner’s, Luke accuses Emily of getting every little thing handed to her and using her sexuality to get to the highest – despite the indisputable fact that her boss believed Emily was the most effective person for the job with probably the most accomplishments, even acknowledging her publication within the Wall Street Journal at a young age. In contrast, Emily tries to assist Luke get promoted, attempting to depict him in a positive light to her boss. While Emily is frightening by her own success, afraid that it can emasculate Luke and feels compelled to assist her partner, Luke is vindictive and jealous. When Emily playfully jokes to Luke, “I promise to enable you to along with your profession in the event you promise to {do that sexually},” setting usual gender tropes the wrong way up, Luke harshly condemns her and bullies her in return, saying, “You don’t appear like one among the boys. You appear like the hooker they paid to maintain them company.” In a display of absurd resentment, you see Luke do quite a few push-ups and sit-ups in an try and reclaim his sense of masculinity, take coaching classes, rage at Emily accusing her of “stealing” his promotion and check out to say his dominance as he feels diminished – reasonably than doing the inner work to enhance himself and his toxic mindset in real ways. Instead of finding a productive way up the company ladder, he blames her for his lack of success. His atrocious sense of entitlement and heinous accusations at Emily are a projection of his own shortcomings. These rage attacks are consistent with how envious narcissists behave in relationships and on this movie, they’re supported by patriarchal power dynamics.

The Movie Starts With Blood And Ends With It

During a poignant moment within the film, Emily pleads with Luke to be completely satisfied for her, asking him why he can’t just look past his ego to do for her what she has done for him – support her. At the top, nonetheless, he is barely capable of “dominate” her and feel like he has re-established his “masculinity” in violently domineering ways, resembling turning an initially consensual sexual encounter into an aggressive assault where he tries to point out Emily who’s “the boss.” Emily, nonetheless, does fight back throughout the film, reacting to his abuse with domination of her own. When Luke tries to publicly humiliate her by telling everyone at work she was sleeping with him and lies about her asking for sexual favors in a serious way, she flips the story and tells her boss he’s a stalker. When Luke cuts her down with horrifying verbal abuse at their engagement party, accusing her of sleeping along with her boss using vivid, crude descriptions in front of her family and friends, Emily responds by breaking a beer bottle over his head.

It is interesting that the movie begins with a taboo scene of Luke’s face smeared with Emily’s menstrual blood during a rest room rendezvous while he’s “servicing” her, only to finish with head injuries, bruises from assaults, and bleeding arms. Perhaps this can be a visual commentary on how well Emily is treated when she remains to be inhabiting a historically feminine role – comforted and pleasured by her partner, all of the option to the tumultuous power struggle that erupts when she “dares” to defy her role in the connection and outperform him.

Emily is A Woman In Power – In More Ways Than One

Scenes like these are perhaps what makes viewers who’re accustomed to seeing aggressive men in film flinch after they see a lady inhabiting the identical role, and what makes the film so ultimately polarizing: Emily doesn’t take abuse quietly or turn the opposite cheek like “good women” are expected to do. The final scene is chilling, with Emily brandishing a knife at Luke to make him apologize to her for raping her, beg for her mercy and telling him to wipe the ground that remains to be crammed with his blood and get out. She leads him to imagine that she desires to hold him accountable for the aim of repairing the connection: once she is satisfied that he has begged for mercy, she kicks him out. One viewer might even see a lady (albeit somewhat destructively) empowering herself after taking figurative punch after punch from her abusive partner; one other viewer who is just not as well-versed within the dynamics of abuse may mistake this as a struggle between two narcissists reasonably than one. Either way, each sorts of viewers are challenged to ask, “Why is it worse when a lady does it than a person?” in terms of each aggression and success.

During this scene, Luke devolves from his aggression into seeming fragility as he sobs, confessing that he’s nothing and can do every little thing to make the connection work. This form of fawning behavior is frequently portrayed in women working hard to take care of their relationships in most movies, however the roles are reversed here as well. Emily is the one who wants out for good; Luke is definitely the one pretending and desires to fight for the connection he himself sabotaged using pity ploys. However it’s possible you’ll feel about this controversial film, it’s clear it has done what it has aimed to do: create a riveting dialogue about different ways men and ladies display power in relationships and the workplace, and the double standards that ladies often should grapple with in terms of being the one in power.

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