The high school years are often depicted as the “glory days” of people’s lives in the movie world. Over and over again we’re presented with a (usually) male protagonist in a mid-life crisis who wishes he could go back to when he was younger, when he didn’t have any real responsibilities and life was carefree and fun.
Then there’s the countless films depicting high school life in all its weirdness and sometimes mundanity – characters finding their place among different social groups, learning about love and friendship, dealing with overbearing teachers and parents, and enjoying wild nights out.
But many of today’s high school students won’t get to experience what many dub the “good old days,” thanks to the novel coronavirus, which we just can’t seem to fix. For this years’ graduating seniors, virtual graduation ceremonies and proms were hosted by the likes of Teen Vogue and John Krasinski’s Some Good News, congratulatory Zoom calls were held, and pictures shared. These students didn’t get the end-of-senior-year experience they were expecting, and they won’t get the traditional version of college move-in excitement – some won’t even have classes on campus at all. Schools and universities across the country are struggling with how to make going back to school safe, but none of the options seem too appealing.
To put it plainly, this sucks. I’m one of the lucky ones, having graduated high school last year, but I’m still sad that I’m missing out on the traditional college experience. To the class of 2020 – I’m sorry you didn’t get your prom, your graduation ceremony with all your classmates and teachers and family members, your grad parties, and all that jazz. But here’s the good news: there’s an endless number of amazing films that will give you a taste of pretty much every version of the high school experience there is.
I know we’re not in the 80s anymore, but if you haven’t seen the works of master coming-of-age filmmaker John Hughes, you haven’t lived. That’s just one woman’s opinion, but John Hughes knew teenagers better than teenagers knew themselves. He took high schoolers seriously, and viewed their experiences as meaningful and important – whether you were popular and cool or not, nerdy or not, an outcast or not, had a significant other or not. It all counts, and it’s best experienced through an 80s lens: The Breakfast Club (1985) and Sixteen Candles (1984) are indisputably required viewing!
If you aren’t big on Molly Ringwald though, (even though she’s an icon), never fear – here’s ten more options, and I guarantee you’ll relate to at least one of them. Did you skip school? Check. Fall in love? Check. Not fall in love? Also check. Have a falling out with your best friend? Check. Drink too much? Check. Make memories that will last forever but wish you could have made more? Hopefully these will fill some of that empty space.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982),
Dazed and Confused (1993),
Lady Bird (2017),
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012),
Dead Poets Society (1989),
Mean Girls (2004),
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986).