The Ones That Got Away With It: A Celebration Of Bad Bitches In Film

In honor of Whit Stillman's Love & Friendship, out this weekend, 11 demon heroines we could all learn something from

This weekend, indie film director Whit Stillman opens his latest movie, Love & Friendship. Starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny, the movie is based on Lady Susan, an epistolary novella by Jane Austen about a crafty and charming widow who conquers high society and shockingly goes unpunished. Austen abstained from publishing Lady Susan (it was likely written in 1794 but not published until 1871) because her eponymous heroine was considered too narcissistic, too destructive, too bad, too fun to be understood by the lame Georgian masses, and the novel was only made available after her death. But Austen fortunately didn’t have to publish her story for bad bitches to make it to the movies. While most bad bitches in film are served an unnecessary comeuppance, those of us looking for some positive role models — i.e., “bad” women who do bad things and then, in one way or another, get away with it — can find ourselves in these unrepentant and unbothered winners.

Body Heat

Kathleen Turner leads William Hurt around by the dick — and I do mean that literally — for this whole damn movie, and that poorly mustachioed fool doesn’t figure it out until he’s already in jail and she’s chilling anonymously on a tropical beach. Put all men in jail, frankly.

Heathers

Technically, at least one terrible and delightful hellion does get her comeuppance in Heathers, but the most terrible of all the Heathers is Veronica, because Veronica is responsible for the murders of four people, and the worst thing that happens to her at the end of this movie is that she has to wear a scrunchie. (Also, yes, I know Jawbreaker fits this list, but whatever, Jawbreaker thinks Judy Greer needs a makeover in order for people to want to hang out with her. Jawbreaker hates itself.)

Red-Headed Woman

Jean Harlow plays a vicious gold digger who steals an honest, boring man from his honest, boring wife, sucks all the money out of him, ruins his social life, cheats on him with his chauffeur, shoots him, and then absconds to Paris to scam another dumber, richer man — chauffeur included this time. The hapless millionaire makes it out of the movie alive and remarries his wife, but I think we can call Jean Harlow’s happy ending the happier of happy endings. The happiest.

“Bitch Better Have My Money”

Excuse me, Rihanna, if you didn’t want me to call this video a movie, tell me something: Why did you make it so perfect? Rihanna’s accountant fucks up her credit, so she and her badass crew of Instagram models take a break from smoking weed and chilling on yachts to kidnap his girlfriend, torture her, and murder him. Lessons learned? Always vet your accountant. That’s it. Back to your boats, children.

Young Adult

Charlize Theron plays a wannabe home-wrecker and maybe psychopath/probable sociopath whose plans to bust up the marriage of her small-town high school ex go belly up when he proves to be incorruptible. Faced with defeat, she considers repenting, only to be reminded by a reverent heartland normie that she’s Charlize Theron and Charlize Theron can be as terrible as she goddamn pleases.

Showgirls

Nomi Malone, terror of the Vegas strip. Watch her as she claws her way to the top of the showgirl pyramid, fucking producers, pushing headliners down the stairs, and beating rapist rock stars, only to keep on drifting once she’s thoroughly conquered the casino lifestyle. (If only Elizabeth Berkley, who played Nomi in the movie, could have been so lucky ...)

The Naked Kiss

It is debatable if the prostitute played by Constance Towers (What. A. Name.) actually gets away with her life of vice, considering the fact that she has to murder her man when he turns out to be a child molester, and her case is only made worse by her fake-as-hell friends once the murder goes to trial. She is, however, eventually let off in the end, so that’s an undeniable win. And I’m sorry, if the first 90 seconds of this movie aren’t an inspiration to shave your head, don a wig, beat your john, and then go out and whore some more, then you’re a servant of the patriarchy and I cannot help you.

Election

Tracy Flick ends Election working for a senator, riding in limos, and chilling in D.C. with the sweet, icy, man-tear-stained slush of Mr. McAllister smeared anonymously and painlessly on her rearview. Win the election, win the war, Tracy. Go on, you teen nightmare you.

Bound

The journey to success, according to Bound, in five easy steps: 1. Dump your dude. 2. Steal his money. 3. Murder him and his lame mobster friends. 4. Have hot gay sex. 5. Abscond with your sexy ex-con conspirator, as played by a very butch Gina Gershon. Every time the Wachowskis make a bad movie, I re-watch Bound to forgive them.

Tristana

Catherine Deneuve has a bunch of movies that almost qualify for this list, but then she gets murdered or arrested or married or she ages at the speed of light and is then devoured by all the mummies of her undead lovers. But Tristana, bless it, is an exception. She survives years of sexual abuse from her faux liberal uncle and loses her leg, her husband, and her angelic innocence, but lives to psychologically torture and eventually peacefully murder that rat bastard another day.

9 to 5

Three women learn their lesson after nearly murdering their horrible boss — and by that I mean they hold their boss hostage in his home after years of being belittled, harassed, and passed over for promotions. Their punishment? Boosted productivity levels, promotions, and a harmonious office of empowered women. Let this be a lesson to us all.