“…I pride myself on being a professional.”
Three friends cannot agree on whose boss is the worst. Nick (Jason Bateman) just got passed over for a promotion because his boss, Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) absolved the position into his own; then there’s Dale (Charlie Day), whose boss Julia (Jennifer Aniston) will not take his denial of her unwanted sexual advances sitting down; and then there is Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), whose late boss left the company in the hands of his drug-addicted son, Bobby (Colin Farrell). As they mull over their grievances, the men decide to take their miserable work lives into their own hands.
Sexual harassment is definitely not funny; that’s why Dale’s concerns about his boss, Julia, are extra-frustrating when his friends just make fun of him for it. Engaged to his girlfriend, Dale gets progressively uncomfortable with Julia’s actions – which run from her discussing Gossip Girl in provocative fashion to straight-up grabbing Dale’s package. Horrible Bosses touches on the ignorance of our culture when the predator happens to be good-looking. The fact is that no one should have to justify not wanting someone to hit on them; however, Julia’s erratic eroticisms may have roots in a much deeper problem.
Histrionic Personality Disorder
None of the personality disorders is garden-variety. These bad boys are unique and complex, with some recent research indicating that they might have genetic influences, as well as environmental ones. They are extra difficult because a person with a personality disorder rarely admits that the problems they have relating to others are of their own making; thus, they often do not seek treatment, causing further problems in their relationships. Although there are similarities in the makeup of the personality disorders, each one does have some key characteristics that distinguish them from the others. The one displayed by Julia is an over-sexualized version of the personality disorder, like if Frankenstein had a baby with an Instagram model.
Anyway, the hallmarks of Julia’s disorder are obvious and unabashed.
Provocative Dress – It might be more appropriate to call this provocative undress. Julia has no issue putting her breasts on display and even seduces Kurt when she lets him watch her take her clothes off; Julia clearly has no shame regarding her body. On the one hand, this is a fantastic show of self-esteem, but on the other hand, no one seems to have a say in whether they want Julia to dress – or undress – in a way that allows them to be comfortable.
Emotional Volatility – When Dale mentions that he is engaged, Julia switches from mild flirting to overt heavy petting. It is almost as though she is threatened by the notion that Dale is going to be officially off the market. She even goes to great lengths to con Dale into sleeping with her, by suggesting that she will tell Dale’s fiancee that they have slept together…if he does not sleep with Julia. Apparently, logic is not a strong suit; irony, though, she deals in spades.
Need for Approval – The personality disorders are tough to treat. Even if someone does decide they need help, establishing a relationship with a therapist is a bumpy road. Anyone under the personality disorder blanket usually has extreme sensitivity to criticism, so they may see a number of therapists over time, often for only a visit or two, before shifting back into the mindset that everyone else – not them – needs help.
Underlying Julia’s weirdness is a craving for approval. She probably seems threatened by Dale’s fiancee because she is threatened by her. To Julia, her body and her sexual prowess are her only assets and rejection of them is rejection of her, as a whole human being. Of course, I am not defending sexual predators, but I am insisting that personality disorders are tough to treat partly because there is a mountain of pain lurking behind each of them. Rather than seeking treatment, though, she passes her pain to others; the people with personality disorders above almost every other type of mental illness seem to have the most difficulty with building and maintaining meaningful relationships.
Dale does eventually figure out a way to handle Julia, but whether or not she will actually change her behavior – that’s a whole other movie, folks.