Barbra Streisand Was Railing Against Basic Bitches in The Way We Were Long Before There Was a Term For It

As Carrie Bradshaw once pointed out in the finale of season two of Sex and the City, “The world is made up of two types of women. The simple girls and the Katie girls. I’m a Katie girl.” Though this is an extremely black and white worldview, this divided line between what is now known as basic bitches and non-basics was helmed by Barbra Streisand–the Katie girl a.k.a. Katie Morosky–in The Way We Were.

The not so simplistic look of Streisand in The Way We Were
The not so simplistic look of Streisand in The Way We Were
As a complex, politically charged Jewess, Katie’s unlikely attraction to the waspy, emotionally muted Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford) is both unlikely and irrevocable. Initially meeting in college, Katie and Hubbell don’t reconnect until after World War II. Hubbell, having just returned from war in the South Pacific, seems more alluring than ever to Katie, now working at a radio station and still fine-tuning her Marxist political slant. Even though their differences are glaring, they allow themselves to be consumed by love. And at first, it’s wonderful, with only minor arguments cropping up, like Hubbell’s friends being so coarse and cavalier in their pessimistic jokes about the death of FDR. But, as Katie’s personality becomes more abrasive to Hubbell, the perilous state of their relationship intensifies.
Opposites attract
Opposites attract
Blessed with an ease for writing, Hubbell lands a job as a screenwriter and moves to L.A. with Katie, who, after their marriage ends up having a daughter named Rachel. During her pregnancy, Hubbell cheats on Katie with a “simple girl” he knew back in college named Carol Ann. This is on the heels of Katie jeopardizing his career in Hollywood during the McCarthyist witch hunts of the 50s. Her background as a communist puts a “red” spotlight on Hubbell, who only wants to maintain the sort of low-profile that Katie could never provide him with.
The final meeting
The final meeting
Coming to terms with the fact that Hubbell is not the man for her–no matter how much she puts him on a pedestal he keeps falling off of–the two agree to separate after Rachel is born. Their re-encounter does not occur until many years later, as Katie, ever-true to her convictions, is passing out political fliers near the Plaza Hotel in New York. It is here she runs into Hubbell, who is with his new “simple girl” and is now writing for a TV sitcom. Katie, impassioned enough to have once said, “You’ll never find anyone as good for you as I am, to believe in you as much as I do or love you as much!” now seems accepting of the irreversible schism between them as she politely notes, “Your girl is lovely, Hubbell.” She has finally accepted that Hubbell was an unfulfilled ideal, and that she will always be too outspoken and non-basic for him. But at least she’ll always have the misty, water-colored memories of the way they were.