by Jeanne Sager
Sometimes I watch the Disney Channel with my daughter (because she's 8 and I'm a glutton for punishment), and I wonder whose idea of teenagehood I'm watching. Even the most entertaining things I watch on television or in the movie theaters tend to look nothing like the real high school years I went through.
Sadly, kids think they do. They watch High School Musical (wait, am I dating myself?) or Ferris Bueller's Day Off (REALLY dating myself here) and think, "Man, oh man, high school sounds AWESOME!"
So what movies do reflect high school? What movies should our kids be watching?
I don't think any of them are perfect -- they are MOVIES, after all -- but here are a few I want my daughter to see before she starts high school. Some of them are fun, some sad, but all have some lessons worth learning.
Happy ending aside, it can't hurt for teenagers to see how quickly a teenage couple's lives are upended over a pregnancy.
Dead Poets Society
Based on a true story, Dead Poets Society explores some of the sad truths of high school life -- disappointing our parents, suicide, first love, and the fact that standing up for what you believe in isn't always easy.
Fame (1980 original)
On its surface, it's all about singing and dancing at a performing arts high school. Underneath, it's about finding your strength to be yourself.
It's no coincidence that underneath the hilarity of this 2004 cult hit, there lies an uncomfortable resemblance to the real life hierarchy of high school. Tina Fey based her screenplay on Queen Bees and Wannabes, a book that was based on studies of how girls interact with one another in high schools. Learning to navigate that world is a girl's key to escaping high school with a shred of self-esteem.
It's a documentary, I know, but this real-life look at what it is like to be the victim of bullying should be required viewing at every high school in America.
Every teenage boy should strive to be like Lloyd Dobbler. And every teenage girl deserves a guy like him.
Oh, hello scary story about what can go seriously wrong when you're drinking at a high school party.
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
Technically this is 10 years post-high school, but every kid could use a reminder that there IS life after high school.
Friday Night Lights
Before the TV show (which is worth showing to the kids for its own reasons) was the 2004 film that showed some of the dark truths hiding behind the glitz and glamour of being the school's athletic heroes -- from abusive dads to life-changing injury. A good reminder that life isn't perfect for the popular kids either.
Have your teens seen any of these movies?
What is YOUR favorite high school movie?