By: Esha Bagora
Public Relations Manager
I am a sucker for rom-com books. So, when I saw The Hating Game at the Los Gatos Library, I had to pick it up. I had high hopes: enemies-to-lovers, one-bed trope, and so on. I was very, very wrong. Sally Thorne’s novel showcases characters entangled in misogyny, fatphobia, and racism. While the basic structure of the story is good (i.e., two rival coworkers fall in love), the details layered on top make it unlikable.Every time the main characters said something out of pocket, it made me cringe and stop reading. When Lucy, the heroine, compares her messy apartment to a “Calcutta slum,” I threw the book across my room. There is no other to describe it, other than horrendous.
Thus, imagine my surprise when I found out that Peter Hutchings made the book into a movie. Released in 2021, Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell star as the leads Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeton, respectively. As I watched the film, I was relieved to see that most of the casual sexism, racism, and fatphobia had been eliminated by the director. Hutton no longer inappropriately addresses her boss by his weight and doesn’t mention how the pink sticky notes she uses are an example of her femininity. But, the movie’s depiction of the characters make them bland and feel forced. The actors don’t match their descriptions in the book. However, the unproblematic behavior of the characters in the movie gives it a leg up over the book.
When Thorne wrote The Hating Game, I’m sure she had a vision, but it ended up clouded by layers of sexism, racism, and fatphobia. What makes this worse, is that The Hating Game, both the movie and book, are set in a publishing company, an integral part of the story. The behavior of Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeton in their respective roles at Gamin & Bexley warrant several suspensions, HR suits, firings, and deserve so many more consequences. The Hating Game idolizes this toxic and unprofessional behavior and causes impressionable audiences to believe that that is love. It is not; hence The Hating Game is a terrible example of a rom-com. Any other possibly pleasant aspect of the novel is overshadowed, leading me for the first time in my life to find that I liked the movie better than the book. Even the diluted movie version of the book isn’t a stellar example either, but it is still moderately better and more acceptable. Watch the movie, but definitely do not read The Hating Game.