In the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, movies about teenage girls were everywhere, from the awkward Samatha Baker from Sixteen Candles to the popular Cher Horowitz from Clueless. If you were a teenage girl at this time, chances are you could find a movie character you could relate to. However, by the mid-2000s movies about teenage girls disappeared while high-powered action films took over. While the occasional movie about a teenage girl without superpowers or a vampire boyfriend would pop up, it wasn’t nearly as often as it once was. Teenage girls were still watching movies, so why were they not being represented like they once were?
Suddenly in 2016, The Edge of Seventeen came up on our radars starting Hailee Steinfeld and Glee alumn Blake Jenner. There was nothing spectacular about Steinfeld’s character Nadine, in fact, she was is pretty un-spectacular, living in the shadow of her all-star older brother. Before we knew it Christine “Lady Bird” McPhereson’s angst was all over our screens, and Bo Burnham stunned audiences with his #tooreal portrayal of middle school with Eighth Grade. It didn’t end there, the success of Netflix’s To All the Boys I Loved Before lead to the film’s sequel P.S I Still Love You, which set to be released next year. Teen girl movies, like teen girls, aren’t going anywhere.
Teen girls are the perfect film protagonist. Who feels more and has more to say than a teenage girl? Eighth Grade originally started as a film with multiple leading characters with an intertwining storyline all based around Writer/Director Bo Burnham’s current anxieties, but early into the process, he felt that Kayla Day was the perfect representation of what he was feeling at the time.
Teen girls are the future if you don’t listen to them now, you will be listening to them one day. It’s about time they get back the spotlight they deserve.
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