5 Things That Gerwig’s Lady Bird Got Right

Now that Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird has been on long enough for the interested to have seen it, it is time to muse over why its representation of young girls and high school life was more realistic than that of most other well-known high school centered movies’. As the movie is written and directed by a female, it is only natural that the presentation of female life is a bit more realistic than that of your average high school movies. Here is a list of five other things that stood out.

1. Mother-daughter relationship

It is likely that at this age and point in life, one of the most important relationships in a girl’s life would be that which she shares with her parents. Even though friends and crushes can be very important too, much depends on what is going on at home. Unlike many other high school centered movies, Lady Bird has its main focus on the connection between Christine and her mother.

2. Sex was not that big of a deal (all the time)

For a European spectator, it was a refreshing surprise that at some points sex was considered almost a natural thing, not some kind of achievement or a rebellious sign. Having Christine’s parents discuss their son having sex within a light and warm-hearted atmosphere was among the nice and surprising-in-a-good-way scenes the movie provided.

3. The characters were not too clichéd

Christine’s cute best friend was not bullied in the movie, even though she was the type that would have been the target of the rude popular kids in your regular high school flick. Maybe it is due to the fact that Christine did not go to a regular high school, but the popular kids were not that bad either – it is always rewarding for the spectator to learn that the so called “rich bitch” also has some admirable or surprising qualities. Most importantly, the adult characters like teachers and parents stirred as much empathy as the teenagers. Even the more stereotyped characters (like the soccer team coach and Christine’s pretentious crush Kyle) managed to be sincerely funny parodies.

4. Versatile view on religion and traditions

Instead of simply making it seem like all the young people are eager to turn against everything that is traditional and old, the movie questioned different world views. Towards the end of the movie, Christine is moved to tears when she visits a church in New York in the midst of feeling lonely and probably a bit isolated. The church connects her to the years she spent in Sacramento and Catholic school.

The ultimate outcome seems to be that traditions are not only restrictive but can also be of a great emotional importance to many young people. The world is not black and white, nor divided into self-explanatory cliques – why should that in the movies be? This kind of versatility seems to be still lacking in many movies that are too eager to address a certain type of audience.

5. A likable main character that also makes mistakes

Opinions can obviously differ on this one, but it is by no means easy to write a realistic, interesting and agreeable main character. Christine makes some bad decisions, but still one wishes that her story ends up well. At times the spectator may be annoyed with her, but she has complexities that makes it easy to identify with her. As many have noted over the past, representation of young girls in movies is often (let’s be honest, almost always) very weak. Lady Bird is at least a road sign in the right way.   

Lastly, it is also good that there are musicals, parodies and the like that take place in the high school world. If you are not looking for realism but something completely different (like students bursting out to sing and dance in the middle of their lunch break) that is cool too. Nevertheless, Lady Bird is a good example that one can be a tad bit more realistic and still just as entertaining.


Movie title: Lady Bird

Directed & written by: Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chamalet

Release date: September 1/ November 3, 2017

Production company: Scott Rudin Productions, A24, Management 360, IAC Films