From Hogwarts to East Great Falls High, high schools in the movies have been a popular source of escape from the mundane reality of teenage life. They have engaged our collective imagination by constructing over-the-top fantasies that we draw inspiration from and implement them in our lives. Though we know they are fiction, we love binging on them because they show us fantasy versions of our own lives while still seeming so real and relatable.
From the whimsical musical numbers in “High School Musical,” to the sporty yet smooth jocks in “She’s the Man,” to the crazy house parties in “Superbad,” these narratives are as deceptive as they are entertaining. In reality, high school—and the types of relationships that one begins in those formative years—are actually quite different than the glorified picture shown on the big screen.
Suggested read: 10 awful love lessons Disney movies teaches you
In order to sort out fact from fiction, read on to learn 12 lies that movies told you about dating in high school:
1. She’s All That
The football jock starts dating the ‘ugly duckling’ on a dare, and voila! He successfully transforms her into a beautiful swan, even going so far as to taking his little sister’s help in the transformation process. The prom night arrives conveniently in the middle of the year, with our hero and heroine going together. But … not everything plays out as he’d intended though. The evil jock who’d dared the hero in the first place, has to open his big mouth to spill the beans, and the duckling, sorry, the swan, hears about it and bolts. That’s when the hero realizes that he’s in love with her and can’t possibly spend another second without her by his side. Swoon! If only dating and relationships were so simple in real life!
2. Mean Girls
“Life in plastic, is fantastic.” Every high school has their own versions of Regina George, whom all of the boys want and all of the girls want to be. But since not everyone can be her, you all band together, urging people to “raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by Regina George.” It becomes a battle of good vs. evil, a classic fairy tale transplanted in the drab hallways of a high school.
In reality, high school isn’t this black and white. Within every girl, there’s a bit of Regina George, but also a bit of Cady, Gretchen, Janis, and the rest of the crew. As much as we’d like to think of our lives in high school in terms of over-the-top caricatures, that’s just not how things work.
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The solitary purpose of the best friend’s life is to faithfully listen as you vent about your problems. She helps you meticulously plot out your “Plan to Destroy” to get rid of the sexy (read: malicious!) girlfriend of the hot guy. Well, the plan works out like magic and he drops her like a hot potato, to be yours! Wait, what is she, a lesbian? Well, that actually works, because then she can have the hot girl and you, the hot guy! If only high school dating always worked out so neatly…
4. American Pie
If we follow the movie’s rationality, high school is a place where your number one goal is to pop your cherry before you head off to college. American Pie serves as an uncontrolled and vulgar exploration of the most enthusiastically awaited, yet often embarrassing ceremony of entering adulthood. According to the bunch of guys in the movie, high school gives you a second chance to take steps and get some action between the sheets!
In reality, the most action that many of us see in bed during high school is with our Bio books. After all, with SATs, extra-curriculars, and college applications to worry about, who’s got time to think about getting into someone’s pants?
5. Dirty Deeds
This high school’s lore is the weirdest of them all. In the movie, Dirty Deeds is a scary roll of dares no schoolboy has ever accomplished. To be respected by the “cool guys” and ultimately catch his crush’s attention, the guy embarks on this 24-hour mission which entangles him in a day of grand theft, alcohol abuse, and ripping the bra of a former homecoming queen.
In reality, getting straight A’s should suffice these days. Better to be smart and get a girl who appreciates intelligence over childish antics, right?
Prom night is made out to be a “life changer,” the glorified transition from being a stupid teen to a glamorous adult. A coordinated larger-than-life dance, a “heal the world” speech from the most ridiculous student, and an effort to pair up the two best teachers (who are both conveniently unmarried?) because no one has anything better to do.
Throw in the fact that everyone acts like they are a happy family at school, yet ends up calling each other horrible insults in the end. Well, I suppose that second part is true in real life.
Suggested read: 15 movies where friendship turned into lasting love
7. 17 Again
Besides the absurd premise required to set up this teenage romcom, it seems to revolve around one giant outdated stereotype of high school from the 90s. What’s with the “play basketball and sleep with the cheerleader” stereotype? The whole idea of the dumb, attractive jock getting the smart, attractive cheerleader just doesn’t hold up these days.
Sure, attractive people typically get attractive people in real life, but I’d assume that if someone had the relationship experience (especially inside the bedroom) of a thirty-something transported back into a high schooler’s body, he’d be getting all of the ladies—even without being the star athlete.
8. High School Musical
The hottest guy in school is supposed to fall in love with the ugly duckling in every movie, or else he is a douche bag. This is usually a part of a bet, during which he falls for her (how?), or because she saved his life by letting him cheat off her in an exam (really?!). This act of generosity obliges him to get to know her on “a deeper and more personal level,” leading the two to sappy duets to each other as they prance around campus.
I wish finding one’s soul mate was as easy as a bet-gone-right or breaking into song, but I’m sad to say that it’s usually much messier than that.
9. The Princess Diaries
A swipe of mascara, some eye shadow to go with it, and Abracadabra: I am Anne Hathaway! The tale of Mia, yet another “ugly duckling,” who is actually just a dressed-down beauty, taught us that a hot guy will fall for you once you become a princess, but stay for you because you are smart and quirky. In reality, not every smart, quirky girl has to go through a transformation to find her soul mate, and she shouldn’t feel like she needs to! Also, who said that curls have to be straightened to look pretty?!
10. The Girl Next Door
An overachiever, according to movies like this, must have a super boring life (read: no chicks!), but then one day fall for the irresistible ‘Girl Next Door.’ To add to the drama, she was once a p*rnstar, but is now a part time life guru to the guy! She helps him come out of his shiny shell and actually live life (which apparently includes failing, losing a scholarship, arriving at the ‘scholarship speech night’ drunk, and misbehaving in front of the principal!) According to this movie, “One has to risk everything for dating in high school!” In this case, the word ‘risk’ has been taken to its raunchiest, most immature extreme to cook up the worst dating advice ever!
Sneaking in your bae into your first storey bedroom is a piece of cake! NBD! That too at all hours of the night. If one of your parents or a sibling comes to check in on you on their way to the loo, it’s super easy to hide them under your bed and pretend to be asleep. Or better yet, have a ‘meaningful, grownup conversation’ with your parent(s) in the middle of the night. Now, now, Team Jacob. Don’t bite my head off for pointing out the obvious!
12. 10 Things I Hate About You
I’ve saved the silliest for the last. A stunning, shrewd, and independent woman must not have any friends or attract many boys, right? In these movies, the sibling is always trying to fix their elder sister/brother with someone, but unlike the best friend, these guys have an agenda. Weirdly, the dating life of the siblings seems to be tied to each other in movies like this: unless the older sibling dates, the younger ain’t getting any. How realistic!
Suggested read: 10 Mr Right-s straight out of the movies
While my high school years were normal as can be, they were magical in their own way. I learnt a lot about love for the first time, though there was no “mean girl” I needed to destroy! These movies are fun to joke about, but we shouldn’t let them skew our perception of what life and love in our teens should look like. So, keep watching and keep laughing – just don’t think your life needs to play out like a low-budget teenage romantic comedy. Dating in high school and how to go about it, entirely up to you.
Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License