Even celebs like Reese Witherspoon have issues with the restaurant bill

Photo: Jennifer Clasen (HBO)
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Celebs: They’re just like us! Even millionaires apparently go through the “who’s paying for this?” song-and-dance that comes at the end of a restaurant meal. The women of Big Little Lies dove into this potentially thorny topic at the recent Television Critics Association conference, resulting in this Guardian headline: “Big little bills: Reese Witherspoon and the etiquette of who picks up the cheque.”

Allison Shoemaker, our TCA representative who was in the room at the time, assures us that this conversation was less a heated petty argument in front of a giant crowd and more a light dusting among friends. What’s weird, according to the transcript, is that the questioner was asking about the co-stars/friends’ meals together, and was about to ask who the best dinnertime storyteller was, when the Flick-like Witherspoon jumps in with: “Who pays? I pay. None of these girls ever pull out their credit card!” Nicole Kidman then points out that new co-star Meryl Streep paid once, and Zoe Kravitz protests that she and Shailene Woodley offer to pay, but their efforts are rebuffed. The calm Kidman then points out, “You try, and we always pay. And, we’re producers, we should be.”

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What’s more awkward than fighting over the bill with friends? Fighting over the bill at a work luncheon or dinner. It’s probably a question for our own Salty Waitress, but I usually defer to the wealthiest person in the room (because that person is never me). I always make an effort toward the bill, but am often outvoted by the management type who is taking me out for lunch. (Note: It’s a goodwill gesture to get the tip if you’re not the one covering the bill.) So the Witherspoon/Kidman/Kravitz clique is certainly complicated by the fact that they all work together, and some, as producers, are actually the bosses. The Guardian agrees, if there’s a power discrepancy, “it’s up to the senior person to pick up the tab.”

They’re all so wealthy that the point seems moot anyway, but still: At a business lunch, follow your boss’s lead. If it’s a client or someone you’re trying to win over, you pay. And at a friends lunch, if someone says that they’re frustrated about paying more often, and you rarely offer to foot the bill, heads-up: You’re probably the person they’re complaining about.

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About the author

Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.