‘Cat Person’ Lights the Viral Short Story’s Powerful Ending on Fire—Literally

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Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Sundance Institute

A tale like the one told in “Cat Person,” Kristen Roupenian’s viral New Yorker short story, no longer feels remarkable. Its plainspoken account of a college girl’s ill-fated relationship with a much older man is one that people—women, really—now talk about all the time. I’ve dated a weirdo who came on too strong! I’ve dated a terrible kisser! I’ve dated a guy who lashed out when I tried to end things!

But in 2017, “Cat Person” felt like a weight lifted off women’s shoulders. Finally, someone had put to words the experience we’d all had but never felt comfortable sharing: that of feeling obligated to placate the whims of an emotionally volatile partner. The story’s final word put a searing punctuation mark on the message: “Whore.”

The new film adaptation of Cat Person, however, seems to realize that the story’s gutting ending and overall sense of unease may not hit the same way it once did. (It doesn’t help that we now know the backstory of how “Cat Person” came to be, thanks to a shocking Slate essay that details how Roupenian came to liberally borrow from a young woman’s lived experience.) The film’s way of challenging today’s viewer to self-reflect on heteroromantic power dynamics is by … making Cat Person into a trashy, absurd, bizarre, unbelievably terrible thriller. Rarely do I text a friend while watching a film to say how much it sucks before it’s even over—and I can count the number of friends I texted during Cat Person on both hands.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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