My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a perfect picture of the concepts formulated and developed by a couple of notable names in evolutionary psychology. The movie artfully portrayed how people – most specifically women – choose their sexual partners. Toula Portokalos, the movie’s main character, is already in her 30’s. Being Greek and possessing the duty of propagating the Greek genes (as is tradition), Toula is being urged by her father Gus and her other relatives to get married soon. Even with her family coercing her into marriage, though, Toula remains unmarried.
The notion of Parental Investment delineates that women invest more in the production of offspring because their eggs are more expensive to produce and because they spend nine months carrying the offspring. Besides, as compared to men, women are more certain that a child is indeed their very own. As a consequence of parental investment, females are wont to be choosier with their partners. This is very apparent in Toula. Her decision to stay single is not for lack of men; it’s for the very reason that the men she meets – or her father lets her meet – are just not to her liking. The criteria for the perfect mate do differ for every person.
And for Toula, her main criterion is that her mate is not of Greek descent. As depicted in her narration of the story and her reaction towards her family’s queerness, Toula does not want to impart in her offspring the characteristics associated with being Greek: fat, noisy, and a bit crazy. So when Ian Miller – a non-Greek – entered her life, Toula felt like her life-long wish has been granted. Parallel to the theory of intersexual selection, Ian proved to be a viable husband and mating partner because he possessed the attributes that Toula found attractive and that she wanted in the family she is going to invest on.
Aside from the physically attractive traits of being tall and handsome, Ian was also funny (he made Toula laugh) and intelligent (as shown in his profession of choice) – these are traits that, according to Geoffrey Miller, are favored in sexual selection. Moreover, Ian showed an unselfish regard for Toula when he so willingly converted to the Greek Orthodox Church just to be accepted by her family. Another consequence of parental investment is the fact that men are more willing to mate as compared to women.
We can get a glimpse of this particular consequence during the early stage of Ian and Toula’s relationship. At that time, we see that Ian is raring to take the relationship to a sexual level. Toula, though apparently sexually attracted to Ian, was more careful. Her reluctance to have sex may in part be explained by her awareness that her family won’t approve of her relationship with Ian but it can also be blamed on her desire to ensure that this relationship is for keeps. Toula was aware of the pressures of marriage that a woman her age – and lineage – normally encounters.
But for her, she cannot just marry anyone – she has to marry someone who will provide her variable reproductive success and who will guarantee that she produces ‘good’ offspring. And with women being choosy about their potential partners, Ian demonstrated how men should highlight something in them that will make them more desirable for women. My Big Fat Greek Wedding paints the undercurrents of our process of selecting who we want to be paired with. And Toula and Ian served as cute yet chillingly real models of how we act during the selection process.