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Film / Waitress

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If only life were easy as pie...

Waitress is a 2007 dramedy about Jenna, an unhappily married waitress/pie-baking-genius from the deep south. When she discovers she is pregnant by her abusive and domineering husband with no other choice but to keep the unwanted baby, she begins a passionate affair with her new (and very much married) gynecologist. The film follows her small steps towards self-actualization, independence, and happiness, while being supported by the staff and customers of the diner she works in and their own stories.

Directed by Adrienne Shelly, whose shockingly random murder overshadowed the mostly positive reviews of the film, it stars Keri Russell as Jenna, Jeremy Sisto as her husband Earl, Nathan Fillion as the gynecologist Dr. Pomatter, Cheryl Hines as her promiscuous friend Becky, and Andy Griffith as Joe, the diner's owner.


Not to be confused with the 1981 Troma "sexy comedy" Waitress!.

As of April 24, 2016, there is now a musical version on Broadway with music by Sara Bareilles and a book by Jessie Nelson, starring Jessie Mueller as Jenna Hunterson.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Appeal to Worse Problems: Becky and Dawn acknowledge that while Jenna is gorgeous and has a great skill for making pies, as lonely (Dawn) or mundane and worrisome (Becky) their lives may get, they don't envy Jenna at all due to her asshole husband.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Dawn is worried her blind date will be a murderer, a stalker, or colorblind.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Subverted. Jenna finally does gather the courage to dump her husband after her daughter is born, but this is merely the last step of a long emancipation process. Rather, she makes things better for the baby.
  • Advertisement:
  • Beautiful All Along: Dawn states that she's "almost pretty" when Jenna does her makeup. But Jenna and Becky are having none of it and tell her she's always been pretty.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Becky and Cal.
    Becky: Okay, so fire me!
    Cal: Okay, I will!
    Becky: Okay, then do!
    (intense eye contact)
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: An in-universe example where Jenna is smiling happily while carrying trays to customers. Both Cal and Becky look extremely confused when this happens.
  • Birds of a Feather: Ogie and Dawn are this in the musical, as both enjoy Revolutionary War reenactments.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jenna escapes her abusive husband and opens a pie shop with her daughter, but Joe dies and Jenna ends things (albeit amicably) with Dr. Pomatter. For fans of their relationship, it's a bit disappointing, though it is the most realistic outcome.
  • Broken Bird: Jenna thanks to years of suffering under Earl's abuse.
  • Buffy Speak: Lots, and it tends to be delivered by the adorable neurotic Dr. Pomatter. But considering who plays him, that's no stretch.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Dawn, somewhat. Her husband is nearly a full-blown case.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Becky is this in regards to Dawn in the musical.
  • Cool Old Guy: Joe. He's even played by Andy Griffith.
  • Crapsaccharine World: On occasions, the film's aesthetic is very similar to another piemaker's story. The darkness of the touched topics, however, prevents the idyllic Southern setting from becoming a Sugar Bowl.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Earl is very violently jealous. He even tells Jenna not to love their baby more than him.
  • The Cutie: Dawn. Especially in the musical.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jenna and Joe.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Childbirth finally defrosts Jenna.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Justified in that Dr. Pomatter is a married man and Jenna ultimately realizes she doesn't need him to be happy.
  • Domestic Abuse: Jenna's husband Earl is a particularly nasty version because it's not physical (other than the scene where he smacks her when she tries to leave for the pie-baking contest in another state). All the damage is done through emotional put-downs, due to his misogyny and general ignorance of anything regarding her feelings, thoughts, or desires. The film does an excellent job portraying how difficult it is to extract oneself out of this sort of situation without being too heavy-handed.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Jenna ultimately gains the strength to leave her abusive husband and make a new and better life for herself and her daughter.
  • Emotionless Girl: Jenna starts as this.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Earl is a truly wretched piece of work with Jeremy Sisto's deep voice.
  • Food Porn: Jenna's pies will have you drooling through the entire film.
  • Foreshadowing: Joe's words about not being around for much longer. Poor guy.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: It's Lampshaded where Jenna actually states to Becky that "having an affair is wrong because everyone involved will get hurt", while she continues to have her affair.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: On Broadway, despite openly admitting that she isn't happy about the pregnancy, Jenna says, "I'm not going to do... that", when Dr. Pomatter naturally assumes that this means that she wants to terminate it.
  • Hate Sink: Earl has zero redeeming qualities.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Ogie appears to be one at first. Dawn isn't the only one underestimating his determination to win her over.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Cal's wife Ethel may or may not be gay; the fact they haven't slept together in fifteen years is why he's having an affair with Becky. Played for Laughs.
    Becky: What kind of man leaves his wife just because she's gay?
  • Insistent Terminology: Jenna refuses to call Dr. Pomatter by his first name (Jim) even when they're having an affair.
  • It's All About Me: Earl claims to love Jenna but he treats her like his property, not as a loved one or even just as a person. He even makes her promise not to love the baby more than him. (In the musical, he reminds her of this promise immediately after she finishes giving birth.)
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Joe. He makes a big deal of being a grump who enjoys the suffering of others but Jenna sees that he's a big softie underneath it and isn't afraid to tell him as much.
    • Cal also counts. He tells Jenna that he's "not such a bad guy after all" when she officially tells him she's pregnant. He also tries to intervene when Earl was getting physical at Dawn and Ogie's wedding.
  • Job Title
  • Karma Houdini: Sweet and loving man that he is, Dr. Pomatter did cheat on his wife with no consequences other than eventually losing Jenna, who realizes she doesn't need him to be happy and does see that his wife is a perfectly nice woman who doesn't deserve to have her own life get wrecked.
  • Last-Name Basis: Jenna won't call Dr. Pomatter by his first name even though he uses hers.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Jenna, who doesn't want and can't really afford a baby, and almost never sleeps with her abusive husband, has unprotected sex with him once and ends up pregnant.
  • Leitmotif: The music that plays whenever Jenna invents a new pie.
  • Momma's Boy: Ogie states to be this.
  • My Secret Pregnancy:
    • Jenna tries to hide her pregnancy from her husband. It actually works for a while because he's such a thick-headed moron, but he of course catches on after a while.
    • Jenna waits to tell her boss at the right time. Truth is, he knew. "Nobody told me. Nobody needs to tell me. I mean, look at you. What'd you think; I thought you went and got fat? Truth be told, as long as you can carry a tray and fill a pie tin, I don't care if you give birth while doing it".
  • Odd Friendship: Jenna develops one with Old Joe.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The last shot of Jenna and Lulu walking off.
  • One-Word Title: As a single work Job Title.
  • Pet the Dog: Deconstructed. Earl has a breakdown, cries about the possibility of losing Jenna, and permits her to buy a crib for the baby. If anything, it does portray the abusive marriage even more realistically. Such Pet the Dog moments in a husband like this are probably what makes leaving a cruel man harder because after all, look, he can be good sometimes, so maybe he can be good all the time, if only you just keep trying. They're the "honeymoon phase" in the cycle of abuse.
  • Pretty Boy: Dr. Pomatter, as pointed out by Dawn.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Earl, who's a pathetic whiner at best.
  • Running Gag: "I gotta go throw up."
  • Secret Relationship: Jenna and Dr. Pomatter. Cal and Becky, the ones who are constantly bickering!
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Dawn can be very pretty.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Becky and Cal go back and forth with one another with almost every conversation they have. Especially in the musical.
  • Supreme Chef: Jenna is really good at making pies.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Jenna, who has an abusive husband. Becky, whose husband is barely there (physically and mentally speaking), also counts. Likely averted with Dr. Pomatter, whose wife is slightly obnoxious at worst in the short time she's seen, although it's implied he's unhappily married. One of the main controversies surrounding the film was its portrayal of marital infidelity in a seemingly positive light. Of course, it's Deconstructed in the ending when Jenna notices Mrs. Pomatter's loving devotion to her husband.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Jenna. Sometimes, it's Played for Laughs, but it's just as often used to show how much of a Broken Bird Jenna is.
  • Three Faces of Eve: Jenna is the Wife (though, as has been established, not a happy one), Becky is the Seductress, and Dawn is the Child.