Set in Los Angeles, it's about a woman named Olivia (Aniston) who quit her job as a prep-school teacher and is now making ends meet by cleaning houses. Olivia's friends are all much wealthier than she is. Despite this, each woman is shown as well-rounded, and some of the stereotypes surrounding American ideas of wealth are discussed and deconstructed.
Some tropes associated with the film include:
- Conspicuous Consumption: Many examples, from the designer socks to the $700 dress that Olivia can't afford to the house that Christine is renovating. Deconstructed, in that it often seems to be the source of depression for characters. At one point, Jane stops washing her hair because no matter how fancy the shampoo, "the same stuff" is in all of them.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Olivia is Phlegmatic, Franny is Sanguine, Christine is Choleric, and Jane is Melancholic.
- French Maid Outfit: Olivia wears one, a gift from the guy she's seeing.
- Misplaced-Names Poster: The only person on the poster that matches up with their name is Frances McDormand. Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, and Jennifer Aniston all do a bodyswap.
- Mistaken for Gay: Aaron.
- Monochrome Casting: They're all very, very white.
- Rich People: To varying degrees. Inverted, of course, with Olivia, who works as a maid, cleaning Rich People's houses. All are cases of Non-Idle Rich , as both Jane and Christine have lucrative jobs, and Franny has many interests outside of being a soccer mom. Wyatt turns out to be this, with Olivia saying she would also not work if she had that kind of money.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: The two men Olivia dates during the course of the movie.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Subverted. Christine gets a rude awakening when she confronts one of her neighbours about why they all hate her without any apparent provocation. The neighbour calmly takes her upstairs and shows her: Christine's house addition has destroyed the rest of the block's view. She's mortified and calls it off right away.
- Secretly Wealthy: The client gives Olivia a hard time about her rates. "I have...issues."
- The Slacker: Olivia. She had a job as a teacher in a wealthy LA high school, but quit. Now she smokes pot and cleans houses and her friends see this as failure.
- Stealing from the Till: Olivia steals some expensive moisturizer from one of her housekeeping clients.