Unlikeable Women: Nancy Downs

Loud. Extreme. Angry. Bitch. Words I’m all too familiar with.

Bitch Flicks have chosen the theme of Unlikeable Women for this month. Sadly my writing isn’t quite up to scratch for them so I thought I’d share my article here.

I give you Nancy Downs, from one unlikeable woman to another.

The Craft was released in 1996, I was 15 and a social outcast at an all girls school.

When I saw Nancy I saw a character who’s fabulous boots I could pretend to be in for an hour and a half. I was already a fan of Fairuza Balk but she really outdoes herself in The Craft. That woman commits!
Nancy had it all, style, attitude and was a witch – what’s not to like?

Well, Nancy comes across as a stone cold bitch from the minute we see her but after we see some of her interactions with certain characters we begin to understand a little of what drives her. That said, the film doesn’t hit you over the head with any misunderstood rebel trope and while her background story humanises her, it doesn’t apologise for or justify her behaviour. Nancy never has a change of heart, she doesn’t break down in tears or confess that’s she’s just insecure, she knows who she is and she owns it. She’s fucking crazy.


Why don’t we like her?
She’s unnecessarily bitchy to EVERYONE.
She’s bitter, angry, jealous, power hungry and in some of her scenes her rage takes on a childlike quality, not unlike a tantrum. This childishness forms part of why Nancy is scary, she can’t rationalise, you never know how her anger is going to manifest itself. What is she capable of?

Why do we like her?

She’s unnecessarily bitchy to EVERYONE.
Nancy has such attitude, she’s powerful, confident despite her insecurities and she’s in control, to begin with anyway. Nancy owns who she is, she never tries to fit in or conform to anyone’s idea of who they think she should be. But she is desperate, desperate for power, desperate to be recognised, respected, acknowledged. As a bullied teen I understood her desperation, her need to take the power back.


Nancy is a complicated women, she’s clearly jealous of Sarah, the new girl at school who is a natural witch, for many reasons, but when Nancy finds out a boy at school tried to rape Sarah, she’s furious and that fury ends in murder. In her own twisted way she was loyal to Sarah, Nancy feels protective over her coven sisters despite her selfish behaviour. The Craft may be about four girls but the real story is Nancy and Sarah,Nancy’s fuck the world attitude is the perfect juxtaposition to Sarah’s natural white witch.

Nancy is an unlikeable woman but in the same way that Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones is. A horrible person but that we delight in seeing because there are so few of them. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a woman who doesn’t fit the stereotype and is more than the sum of her parts. We understand these characters because we’ve met them! We are them!

I love to see female characters who buck the trend, who swear like a sailor, who don’t take any shit, who create havoc, who are sneaky, defiant, ruthless, intelligent, vicious. A character that rings true. A character we can live through vicariously.

Usually in film, no one likes ‘The Bitch character’  because generally speaking they are a one dimensional character whose sole purpose is for the audience to hate on. They’re usually a supporting role too, so we rarely get to see more of what makes that character tick. They are a trope and nothing more. The Craft takes that trope a few steps further and created a brilliant villain. An unlikeable woman.


About Moxie McMurder

Mad, bad and dangerous to know.
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4 Responses to Unlikeable Women: Nancy Downs

  1. Love it! Love her! Love The Craft!

  2. hocuspocus13 says:

    Reblogged this on hocuspocus13 and commented:
    jinxx ♠ xoxo

  3. memadtwo says:

    My daughter and I watched The Craft numerous times, this brought back great memories! Such a cool movie, we loved it. Great post!

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