The Devil Wears Prada is a near-perfect film, but it has one fatal flaw: Nate, Andy’s boyfriend, played by Adrian Grenier. Rewatch the movie right now, and you’ll see that Nate is a selfish, whiny man-child who thinks his birthday is more important than Andy’s career. The first comment he makes to Andy after she finds out she snagged a job at a fashion magazine is “Was it a phone interview?” WTF! He literally thinks Andy is too ugly to work at Runway! He’s the worst!
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nate belittles Andy throughout the movie, criticizing her industry, her work ethic—everything. Andy’s already under so much stress at work, but instead of helping, Nate just makes it worse.
But, don’t worry, the Devil Wears Prada screenwriter (Aline Brosh McKenna) is well aware of your complaints, and she has an explanation. As it turns out, Nate was sort of written as a stereotypical “girlfriend” part.
“That’s a part that a lot of women end up playing: the ‘Why aren’t you home more,’ the naggy wife,” McKenna told Entertainment Weekly. “I have to say, that character was the biggest challenge to write, and oddly, the character [director David Frankel] and I talked about the most, because we wanted to make sure he wasn’t a pain in the ass, but he is the person who is trying to say, ‘Is this who you want to be morally?’”
The concept of The Devil Wears Prada framing Nate as the “girlfriend” is actually quite interesting—like how Chris Pine’s character in Wonder Woman was based on Lois Lane. If anything, it shines a different light on an archetype that’s plagued female characters for years—and really needs to just disappear.
McKenna does have a quasi-defense for Nate’s behavior in the movie, though. She notes that he straight-up scoffs at the idea he’s actually mad Andy missed his birthday. (“What am I—four?” he says, in case you forgot.) And it’s not the fact Andy’s working so much that Nate hates, McKenna says, but why she’s doing it.
“I think that now, however many years later, what people focus on is that he’s trying to restrict her ambition,” she said. “But her ambition is going toward something that she doesn’t really believe in, so he has a point.”
That’s true. After all, the biggest fight Nate and Andy have in the film is about how she’s “becoming” one of the Runway girls; it isn’t about the fact she’s working long hours. So maybe he did have her best interests at heart the whole time. That being said, he didn’t have to be so friggin’ rude about it.