The Room: an Unnecessary Novelization

Chapter 19

The next morning, Johnny was still eating breakfast as he was leaving for work. “Bye, Lisa,” he said through a mouthful of bagel as he knelt to kiss his future wife’s cheek. Sitting with her coffee, wearing the same clothes she wore the day before, Lisa tilted her head to receive the kiss, but her eyes watched her future husband with loathing as he headed for the door. He opened it to leave and his face brightened. “Oh, hi, Claudette.”

“Ah!” she replied.

Holding the bagel in his hand away to prevent any crumbs from landing on her pantsuit, Johnny embraced his future wife’s mother in a hug. “Bye.”

“Ah,” Claudette replied. As she waved good-bye at her daughter’s future husband’s retreating back, Johnny pulled the door shut behind him.

“Hello, mom,” Lisa said, watching her mother trot inside. “How are you?”

“I’m okay,” Claudette replied, cupping her daughter’s chin in her hand as she passed behind her chair. “How are you?”

“I’m fixing the apartment for Johnny’s birthday,” Lisa started listlessly as her mother sat down in the chair next to hers, “But I’m really not into it.”

“Oh, why not?” Claudette asked, disappointed.

Annoyed, Lisa fixed her mother with a frustrated expression. “Because I’m in love with Mark,” she reminded her mother. “Not Johnny.” Claudette rolled her eyes at her daughter’s continued insistence that she was uninterested in her future husband. “And here I am planning his party.”

“It’s not right, Lisa,” her mother scolded. “I still think you should marry Johnny. Now you can’t live on love,” she continued, telling her daughter the only way for a woman to survive was to be supported by a man and ignoring hard-won rights that women had to fight for decades to have. “You need financial security.”

“But I’m not happy,” Lisa shot back. Her mother scoffed and rolled her eyes again, seriously preferring that her daughter be miserable than work for a living. “He still thinks I’m going to marry him next month. He’s a fool.” Slamming her mug down on the coffee table, Lisa stood to walk away.

“You expect to be happy?” Claudette demanded as her daughter grabbed the broom propped up against the wall. “I haven’t been happy since…” She trailed off, trying to remember. “Since I married my first husband.”

Oh, hi, audience! This is your humble narrator. Appy polly loggies for being so unprofessional as to interrupt, since I have been trying – and rather failing, as you noticed – to not editorialise, but this really bothers me.

So, Johnny’s supposed to be great and perfect in every way, right? We’re supposed to hate Lisa for cheating on him, not just because it’s awful, but because she’s betraying Saint Johnny, yeah? Presumably we’re also supposed to think the moral course of action for Lisa is to stop sleeping with Mark and marry Johnny, despite the fact that she’d be unhappy for the rest of her life.

I mean, that is what Tommy Wiseau is saying here, right? That women can either have happiness or not be impoverished, and that’s the way it should be? That once a dude has bought you stuff, it doesn’t matter what you do or if you enjoy being around him, he has now earned you?

You could say that Claudette is supposed to be the stereotypical gold-digger, and she’s meant as this example of a really wrong view of marriage, but the thing is, we are supposed to feel that Lisa is beholden to Johnny because he’s given her things and because he’s in love with her. Basically, she no longer has complete control over her situation because she owes Johnny her love. That’s not even subtext, it’s regular friggin’ text! This fucked-up, toxic bullshit is starting to make me feel physically ill, but at least I no longer feel bad for making fun of this utter failure of a magnum opus, or the twisted fuck who wrote it.

Also, have you noticed that Lisa’s in her early twenties – the actress was twenty-two at the time – and Claudette says they’ve been dating for over five years? (Also, towards the end, Johnny clarifies that it’s seven years.) Think about it.

Anyways, back to your scheduled programming.

“I didn’t even want to marry your father,” Claudette confided.

Lisa nearly dropped her broom. “You never told me that,” she gaped.

“Well, it’s true,” Claudette told her. “All men are assholes. Men and women use and abuse each other all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it. Marriage has nothing to do with love.”

“Johnny’s okay,” Lisa conceded, ready to be a shameless gold-digger thanks to that inspiring pep talk. “I suppose. Actually,” she smirked, “I have him wrapped around my little finger.”

“Well, you should be happy then,” Claudette shrugged, the shrivelled, black piece of shit in her chest that she called her heart dancing with joy.

“But I don’t love him!” Lisa spat, failing to absorb the thesis statement of her mother’s life and this movie.

Scoffing, Claudette stood, getting inches from her daughter’s face. “Don’t throw your life away just because you don’t love him,” she told Lisa. “That’s ridiculous! You need to grow up and you need to listen to me.”

“Okay, mom,” Lisa agreed, more to end the conversation than anything else. “I’ll see you at the party.” Seeing the sad look in her daughter’s eyes, Claudette scoffed, knowing Lisa was not going to take her advice. “I just need to be alone right now.”

With a nod, Claudette kissed the tip of her finger, tapping it to her daughter’s nose in her usual way of saying goodbye. Lisa scrunched up her face in response. “Bye bye, my precious,” she hissed as she turned and walked away.

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