13 Beloved Cliches From Your Favorite ‘90s Teen Films
Even if you condensed it to the last year of the decade alone, there was a boatload of teen movies in the 1990s, crammed in to satiate the adolescent masses with prom-centric rom-coms. Subsequently, eventually you notice the same clichés in ‘90s teen films time and time again, to the point where you can guess the plot within in the first five minutes. And, although Not Another Teen Movie covered a lot of this territory, I think we need to go over all those tropes that you’ve seen a million times before... and kind of love.
Now, to be fair, we can’t entirely blame the ‘90s for the overload of certain clichés. Originality was already in jeopardy: I mean, like half all post-'80s teen flicks you see are just takes on Pretty In Pink, and it’s not like people were re-inventing the wheel in the early 2000s. Still, there was a distinct feel and aesthetic that comes from mid-to-late ‘90s teen movies that should be celebrated, with all of their egregious plot overlaps.
So let’s not put it off any longer. Without any more delay, these are some of the best clichés from ‘90s teen films that your nostalgia-loving heart still appreciates.
1. The Popular Kids Going Out Of Their Way To Publicly Make Your Life Hell
Not all of them do it through underhanded, manipulative and frankly brilliant methods a la Kathryn Merteuil. Most of them are obnoxious about in an a totally exaggerated arena. Which, as horrible as the popular kids were to me, they usually don't expend that much energy on you. They just call you a witch every day for four years, and it's usually enough.
2. The Most Popular Girl In School Getting Publicly Humiliated In A Grand Way
Make no mistake. Someone is going to get her comeuppance by the movie's end.
3. Having An Absentee Mother
A key element of this is to be unclear about whether she ran out on the family or is, you know, legit dead.
4. Basically Co-Opting The Classics For A "Modern" Remake
Stress on "modern," because Lord knows those Marky Mark references will age like a fine wine.
5. A Dramatic Make-Over That Will Easily Help You Work Your Way Into The Popular Crowd
You know, whatever the motives are, this inevitably happens to someone.
6. Deciding To Make Some Serious Life Decisions In Your Second Semester Senior Year
Like, the action of every teen movie begins about a month before graduation because it's supposedly everyone's "last chance" to make things happen. Again, in reality, seniors at that juncture barely make the effort to show up to class, let alone make bets, fall in love, do some synchronized dancing at prom, hurt the person that they fell in love with, buy them a guitar to make amends, and so on.
7. A Prickly Rebel Who Can't Possibly Be Tamed... Until She Is Tamed, More Or Less
This is evident in Pretty In Pink successors 10 Things I Hate About You and She's All That, but subverted and gender-swapped in Drive Me Crazy.
9. A Harried Insistence To Lose Your Virginity Before College
To a person, ideally. It doesn't count if it's a pie.
10. Having The Donnas Play At Your School Dance
I've seen this happen at least twice and all I was stuck with was the "Cha Cha Slide," which is so profoundly unfair.
11. Pretty Much Everything Falling Apart Or Coming Together On Prom Night (Take Your Pick)
I guess it's high-drama in real life, too, but more-so in the Wildwood beach-houses-of-sin that everyone rented after the school festivities.
12. The Insistence That Pairing Neon Fur Faux With Plastic Mini-Skirts Is A Good Look
Can you even call it a '90s teen movie without a retina-burning color palette?
All right, only once or twice or what you did last summer.
Suffice to say there's a hardcore predictability when it comes to your favorite '90s teen flicks, but isn't that why you love them?
Images: Miramax Films; Giphy (13)