Film / She Devil
Revenge is sweet... and low.

"The story of the greatest evil known to man... his ex-wife."

She-Devil is a 1989 remake starring Roseanne Barr, Meryl Streep, and Ed Begley, Jr., based loosely on the 1983 English novel The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon, and a British miniseries the novel also spawned.

Ruth Patchett is a frumpy housewife and mother of two whose accountant husband, Bob, is an opportunist whose affection she is desperate for. He meets romance novelist Mary Fisher at a banquet and makes her a client, becoming very friendly with her in the process... too friendly. After Ruth gets fed up with Bob's infidelity and general poor treatment of her, she schemes and plans her ultimate revenge against him, which ends up to be a long, complicated, and darkly funny process.

It received mixed reviews at the time of release, with criticism mostly going to Roseanne's performance (or the fact that she was cast at all aside Meryl Streep) and deviations from the original story, but presently is somewhat of a cult classic.


  • Ambiguously Jewish: Mary Fisher. She's from New Jersey, has the last name "Fisher", and Mrs. Fisher mentioned Mr. Fisher having been a "Kosher butcher from Hoboken" in life.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Mary gives one to Nicolette when the younger girl sasses her back, this is enough to give the normally defiant and disobedient girl to get out the room.
  • Batman Gambit: Ruth's revenge is assisted by Bob's continual infidelity and his embezzlement of his own clients. Ruth merely brings Bob's crimes to light, and prevents him from using his lawyer's plan that would ensure a Miscarriage of Justice.
  • Bleak Abyss Retirement Home: The posh Golden Twilight Home where the occupants are abandoned by their families and are given sedatives to keep them docile and unaware of their situation as long as they don't wet the bed, Ruth changes that.
  • Brainy Brunette: Ruth proves to be this in the film, Miss Trumper also counts in this regard since she's been accumulating a lot of money and built a successful business with Ruth.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Ruth and Bobs' children, Nicolette and Andrew. They start out the film being smart-mouthed and whiny, with a scene where Andrew is punching holes in the Dairy aisle of the supermarket. Their behavior only helps out in Ruth's plan to ruin Mary Fisher's life.
    • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Nicolette is closer to this age and while she was merely snarky with her Mom, she drives Mary crazy.
  • Broken Pedestal: Ruth was a fan of Mary Fisher's work before Bob started sleeping with her.
  • Best Served Cold: From beginning to end, it likely takes Ruth more than a year to get even with Bob.
  • Cheek Copy: After manipulating Bob's ex-secretary/lover into breaking into Bob's office, Ruth finds these sort of pictures in his file... and mails them to Mary.What gave him away was that his hands were visible in the pictures...and he was still wearing the distinctive ring Mary gave him.
  • Commitment Issues: Bob has them and Ruth lampshades it.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Fisher, Mary's mother, to the Patchett children.
  • Creator Breakdown: In-Universe, this happens to Mary halfway through the movie.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ruth is this.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Mrs. Fisher.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Played with—adultery doesn't justify the length Ruth goes to ruin Bob's life, but considering his long-time embezzlement of his clients, he genuinely does deserve his stint in prison, and likely would not have ever been found out if not for Ruth.
  • Dumb Blonde: Played with. Olivia Honey may be ditzy, but she is a good secretary and helped Ruth get Bob get arrested for embezzlement; Bob is clueless as hell yet is a brilliant White Collar criminal and Mary Fisher is Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense but built up a literary empire.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Bob really loves golden-haired women. Mary Fisher, Olivia Honey, and a random woman in traffic.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Played With. Bob merely doesn't spend the night with Ruth after his affair with Mary starts; after an argument with Mary, he moves to the couch when she starts whining for him to stay home more. Played straight after Mary loses it and found out about an affair he had with Olivia Honey, she whispers he's "still on probation".
  • Favors for the Sexy: Gets Olivia Honey hired right away and earlier in the film, Bob lets Mary sit up front with him in the car while Ruth sits in the back and has to walk four blocks to their house.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Framing the Guilty Party: In order to expose Bob's embezzlement, Ruth and a secretary transfers several times more money to his bank account than he was skimming off. Ruth describes in narration that she "wasn't framing Bob, just making his thievery more obvious."
  • Full-Name Basis: Most characters, especially Ruth, refer to Mary by her full name.
  • Gold Digger: Bob, a rare male example.
    • Olivia Honey, a client of Ruth's agency who eventually becomes Bob's secretary, states in her video interview that her dream is to marry a rich and powerful man.
  • Hired for Their Looks: Olivia Honey. Bob asks for a very attractive secretary and Ruth notes it's important to pair the right employee (bubbly and pretty Gold Digger) with the right boss.
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Bob and Ruth. He's of the classic, blond good looks that entice Mary Fisher and many other women while Ruth looks like Roseanne at her worst, has awful clothing, a messy hairdo, and an unsightly mole.
  • Hourglass Plot: Ruth effectively switches places with Mary and Bob by the end of the story. This theme is even stronger in the book, where more emphasis is placed on Ruth's envy of Mary and her glamorous life than revenge on Bob.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: Experienced by poor Olivia Honey after she confesses her love to Bob, she gets fired and accused of sleeping her way to the top.
  • Ironic Hell: Figuratively.
  • Large Ham: Meryl Streep's performance as Mary Fisher is Grade A.
  • Meganekko: Mary, when she becomes a "serious" writer and wears glasses. Whether she needs them or are Purely Aesthetic Glasses is up to the viewer.
  • Missing Mom: As part of her plan, Ruth drops off her children with Bob and Mary and vanishes from their lives until the end.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Part of the Color Motif and Mary's favorite color, which is fitting with her dainty and romantic interests. Her lipstick, house, decor, clothing, etc. are all in pink; even her spectacles at the end are pink tinted. Ruth takes up this color after settling in as a successful businesswoman.
  • Potty Failure: Not allowed at the Golden Twilight Home.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Bob gives one to Ruth after a disastrous visit with his parents, invoking the movie's title. This also leads to the start of Ruth's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Stuff Blowing Up Bob's house.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Ruth, Miss Trumper, and the women of the Vesta Rose Employment agency. These are women without much education, love, looks, brains, work experience, self-esteem, reputation, money, in other words, they are in the lowest rung of the ladder. They become rather handy in furthering Ruth's revenge.
  • Red Is Heroic: At the end, Ruth is strutting down the streets of New York City with quite a lot of women in red work clothes around her. This scene is supposed to be a nod to women's empowerment.
  • Rich Bitch: Mary Fisher.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Oddly Mary Fisher. Despite a blue collar background, she doesn't know how to wash clothes properly, where she dumps in fabric softener sheets and bleach in the washer.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The entire plot.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Mary Fisher's mother, once Ruth switches her meds with stimulants.
  • Sexy Secretary: Bob has a pack of very attractive women as his secretaries. Later when he get's wealthier, he even demands a secretary with very good looks.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Played With, while this trope being applied doesn't make the Ruth and the women in the Vesta Rose commercial into beauty queens, it does reflect a higher sense of worth and savviness along with success and stylish clothing.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Bob and Ruth had this because she was pregnant, his parents forced him to.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Not overtly stated but it's obvious who is left with the responsibilities of running a household and taking care of the children...and it's not Bob.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Mary Fisher turns out to have had her son given up for adoption when she was a teenager.
  • True Blue Femininity: Mary takes up this color after leaving Bob and romance novels behind, to mark her as a "serious" writer. Even her docu-novel is in blue; Ruth's hostess dress (before her Roaring Rampage of Revenge) is a powder blue chiffon number symbolizing her trying to be the perfect housewife.
  • Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: Of the Grey and Grey Morality sort, overweight and homely Ruth to the slim and beautiful Mary Fisher.
  • Ugly Lady's Cute Children: Not a plot point, but obviously the Patchett children get more of their looks from Bob.
  • Unwanted Spouse: According to Bob, it was a Shotgun Wedding.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Nurse Hooper after she and Ruth start the employment agency? She's seen in a commercial advertising the service and that's the last she's mentioned.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Nicolette. She doubts a fancy dinner will bring her father home away from Mary Fisher.
  • Woman in White: Mary wears this color a lot and later Ruth at the end. The irony isn't lost on Ruth.
  • Woman Scorned: Ruth, obviously.
  • Yandere