Back to School Watch List

Summer is unofficially over. On one hand it’s going to be great to stop the influx of summer vacation FOMO but on the other hand it means focusing on school (and pumpkin spice latte Instagrams). There’s really only one place to turn to when it’s time head back to school: teen movies.

Teen movies are great for a few reasons. First, once you’re out of high school you see them in a completely new light. Were the kids in my high school rich snobs like in Clueless? Would I have been the subject of Laney Boggs/Zack Siler situation? These movies become even better as an adult not only for nostalgia sake, but because they are absolutely insane concepts. You see things you don’t realize as a teenager and how illogical or implausible they are. Another reason they are great is they help you survive the years you are stuck in high school. See the characters are just like you (albeit played by twenty-something actors), living in towns just like yours, and engrossed in situations (a bit more farfetched) like yours. They are somewhat of an escape to places and people we wish we could be rather than the even crappier teenage situations we were in at the time. I mean there isn’t always a swift, romantic resolution or choreographed dance sequence at the prom.

So these are a few of my favorite teen movies for back to school season. I consider myself a lover of the teen movies so truly this is just a jumping off point.


10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

10 Things I Hate About You is essentially The Taming of the Shrew for teenagers. There are two approaches to high school: you either embrace it and take all it has to offer or you shun it completely as ritualistic nonsense. Thankfully with 10 Things I Hate About You I was able to enjoy both sides equally (in real life I was much more of a Kat than a Bianca). Plus Joseph Gordon Levitt is quite the babe.


Bring It On (2000)

Bring It On fed into my middle school cheerleading ways and made me optimistic about high school. Torrence was cool and looked like every model in a Seventeen magazine. Plus her love interest Cliff is literally everything athletic boys aren’t. He’s charming, witty, and has some serious air guitar skills. He’s everything I wanted in a high school boyfriend. The movie is funny and so ridiculous. Competitive cheerleading is SERIOUS business.


The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club is essential teen movie viewing. It encompasses the high school experience from every perspective there is. 5 people from different walks of high school life forced to spend the day together where they unrealistically bond and act as though once detention ends they could ever continue this facade. The end is absolutely perfect and one of my favorite movie endings of all time. Real detention was not at all like this.


Clueless (1995)

Clueless is probably the least relatable¬†high school on this mini list. Not because regular teenage situations weren’t involved but because rarely does a high school like theirs exist. Sure in gym we played tennis, but not with a machine where balls flew at our faces. But also we couldn’t get Marky Mark to plant a celebrity tree for Arbor Day either (he was a distinguished actor by the time I entered high school). I grew up wanting to live in this movie for lack of a better reason to choose it. It’s a true classic and everything about it is perfect. I’m still really disappointed I didn’t get a white Jeep for my 16th birthday..but that’s a different blog post.


She’s All That (1999)

She’s All That is literally a high school nightmare. Any group of popular kids who place a bet to make a nerdy outcast popular are just horrible. And that’s probably because I very easily could have been Laney, you know, if people actually did that in real life. There’s so much I love about this movie now. It has everything: a makeover, beach volleyball, a girl showing popular girls whose boss, an almost dated MTV Real World reference, and above all a choreographed prom dance sequence. Brilliant.




Birthday Playlist: 1996

It’s my birthday! I can’t believe it. One of my yearly traditions is to revisit a year and make a playlist. It’s the ultimate time traveling nostalgia trip. I contemplated visiting a few years in a few decades and even trying to compile a list of my favorite songs of all time (I have never completed this successfully), but eventually settled on 1996. To be fair, this was the most popular when I brought up this year’s list in discussion.

In 1996 I was 9 years old. I had a giant crush on Leonardo DiCaprio, and probably watched Romeo + Juliet a billion times (fairly inappropriate in retrospect). Tupac died and the biggest dance crazy to ever sweep the nation, The Macarena, began to take over. I got a new boom box which I used to play two albums over and over: Melon Collie & the Infinite Sadness and Jagged Little Pill. So the music on this playlist features many of the most popular songs of 1996. This does not include the Macarena for entirely obvious reasons, but does include a lot of other hits by Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, and Spice Girls.

If I made this playlist strictly popular songs from 1996 I would be lying. I spent a lot of my time watching MTV which means my music taste altered slightly from that of my peers. Yes, MTV showed a lot of pop music (yes, they actually showed music videos at one time), but they also showed a lot of alternative music. This playlist features a bunch of my favorite songs from back in the day including One Headlight by the Wallflowers, Champagne Supernova by Oasis, and 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins.

After making this playlist and listening to it for hours, I realized either I was one incredibly angst-ridden kid OR I was just way before my time when it came to music. I also had a few existential meltdowns realizing this was TWENTY years ago. This playlist would mostly contain alternative rock if it weren’t for Rachael’s intervention and request to add “more pop songs.” So enjoy this 3 hour long expansive playlist featuring some of the biggest hits and even better songs from 1996.

Listen on Spotify