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Think Like a Man: The Issue with Lauren’s Portrayal and Character Arc

| Agents of Fandom
Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) in Screen Gems' comedy THINK LIKE A MAN.

Brief Synopsis of Think Like a Man

After watching the 2012 hit film, Think Like a Man as a 21-year-old woman, the portrayal of Lauren was unnerving to watch. Initially, the women of the film use the novel Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey to guide their relationships with the main male characters. When the male protagonists become aware that the women are using this novel against them, they decide to read the book to bend the women to their will. Think Like a Man utilizes caricatures depicted by the characters in the film to misrepresent women in main protagonist roles. More specifically, the portrayal of Lauren was a disappointing representation of a successful Black businesswoman. 

Taraji P Henson as Lauren in Think Like a Man 2012 | Agents of Fandom | Agents of Fandom
Taraji P Henson as Lauren in <em>Think Like a Man<em> 2012 Image Credit Ron BatzdorffSony

Lauren as an “Anomaly”

The portrayal of “The Woman Who is Her Own Man” aka Lauren in Think Like a Man completely missed the mark. Played by Empire actress Taraji P. Henson, Lauren Harris is a Chief Operating Officer of a Fortune 500 company. However, her success is ultimately her downfall when finding love. In Think Like a Man, men are intimidated by her stature.

The article, “Six Annoying Women Character Tropes in Black Romantic Comedies” written by Evette Dionne explains classic tropes the media uses to depict Black women. Lauren fits into the “The Sapphire/Independent Black Woman” stereotype. Dionne explains these women are often “too particular to find a man worth falling in love with” (Dionne, 2013). The Sapphire/Independent Black Woman is depicted as materialistic and emasculating (Dionne, 2013). Lauren fits this narrative perfectly, as her standards are deemed too high by those around her. The film treats Lauren’s career as a detriment, without acknowledging the professional rigor of her success.

As a COO of a Fortune 500 company, Lauren is an anomaly in her workplace. In Khristopher J. Brooks’ article: Why so many black business professionals are missing from the C-suite, he emphasizes:

“Black people account for about 12% of the U.S. population but occupy only 3.2% of the senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S. and just 0.8% of all Fortune 500 CEO positions” (Brooks, 2019).

In Fortune 500 Companies, it is very rare to see Black people in leadership positions. Specifically in Lauren’s case, an emphasis on intersectionality must be applied as she is also a woman. The article, The female CEOs on this year’s Fortune 500 just broke three all-time records by Emma Hinchliffe highlights:

“Having a total of 41 women chief executives amounts to female leadership for just 8.1% of the Fortune 500.”(Hinchliffe, 2021).

The odds were stacked up against Lauren when she decided to pursue her career. After succeeding against all obstacles, Lauren must now deal with men who feel emasculated by her success.

Taraji P Henson and Michael Ealy in Think Like a Man 2012 | Agents of Fandom | Agents of Fandom
Taraji P Henson and Michael Ealy in <em>Think Like a Man<em> 2012 Image Credit Alan MarkfieldSony

Lauren's disappointing character resolution

The film’s conclusion of Lauren’s love affair affirms this narrative. Lauren’s partner in the film is Dominic, aka, “The Dreamer.” Ultimately, Lauren chooses Dominic, with a fairy tale ending implied in their future. However, this relationship affirms that the issue was Lauren’s standards, instead of Dominic's shortcomings as a partner. The true resolution of their love story is based on one simple fact: Lauren decided to settle.

For more deep dives into hard hitting topics, check out my review of Anything for Selena Podcast!

References:            

Brooks, K. J. (2019, December 10). Why so many black business professionals are missing from the C-suite. CBS News. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/black-professionals-hold-only-3-percent-of-executive-jobs-1-percent-of-ceo-jobs-at-fortune-500-firms-new-report-says/.

Dionne, E., & », E. D. V. profile. (2013, August 2). Six annoying women character tropes in black romantic comedies. Bitch Media. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.bitchmedia.org/post/six-annoying-women-character-tropes-in-black-romantic-comedies.

Hinchliffe, E. (2021, June 2). The female CEOS on this year's Fortune 500 just broke three all-time records. Fortune. Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://fortune.com/2021/06/02/female-ceos-fortune-500-2021-women-ceo-list-roz-brewer-walgreens-karen-lynch-cvs-thasunda-brown-duckett-tiaa/.

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