11 Movies That Show How Awful High School Is
High school is not an easy thing to survive. The academic side of things can be challenging for many, but the social side of high school can sometimes be even more difficult to deal with. Bullying, peer pressure, cliques, fitting in, popularity, drugs, sex, alcohol, and dating are all major issues for teens. For teens in movies, there are all of these problems, plus the occasional psychopathic murderer to deal with, and maybe some supernatural escapades. All in all, high school can be pretty difficult at times, and here are some movies that show just how awful high school can be.
11. She’s All That
She’s All That is a classic high school movie about a popular guy, Zack (Freddie Prinze. Jr.) and a not-so-popular girl, Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook), falling in love. It begins when Zack’s friend Dean (Paul Walker) makes a bet with him about if Zack can turn any girl into the next prom queen in six weeks. Dean chooses Laney as the girl, and Zack begins his challenge. Laney is not easily charmed, and the process of getting her to spend time with him is rather amusing. Over time, they fall in love and after going through many hurdles, they end up together. Viewers see the importance students place on appearance, since Laney is viewed differently as soon as she starts to change her style. They also see characters use lies and manipulation in a desperate struggle to become more popular. Laney’s character doesn’t actually strive for popularity, which is somewhat refreshing, and she teaches Zach a thing or two about what’s important in life, and it isn’t popularity.
10. Easy A
Easy A is a movie that shows how students are judged in high school for their sexual encounters, or lack thereof. Whether students are virgins or sleep around, they are publically shamed. The main character, Olive, makes up a story about going on a date to avoid a camping trip, and when grilled about her date by her best friend, she claims to have lost her virginity. Someone overhears, and the news spreads around school quickly. She decides to embrace her reputation as the school harlot, and male students beg her to tell people that they slept together, and shower her with gifts in exchange for the favor. Viewers see just how far high school students will go in order to alter their reputation and increase their popularity. They also see that these efforts to change the way people see them often backfire, and that honesty and being themselves is usually the best way to get through life.
9. John Tucker Must Die
John Tucker Must Die follows a teenaged girl named Kate who moves to a new city and adapts to a new school. She discovers that John Tucker, one of the most popular people in school, is secretly dating multiple girls at once. The girls eventually find out and enlist Kate to help them get revenge on him. They coach her through dating him, trying to get him to fall in love with her so that she can dump him and break his heart. They also do many strange things to him to try to embarrass him publically, but the overly confident guy just can’t be embarrassed. The world of dating, lies, cheating, popularity, and cliques are a bit less funny in real life, and the consequences to people’s actions are a bit more severe, but this is a lighthearted look at some of the issues with dating and popularity in high school.
8. The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club is a classic high school movie about five kids stuck in detention all day on a Saturday. They are all from very different cliques and think they have nothing in common until they get to know each other and learn that they are all dealing with difficult things in their lives, and they all have complicated relationships with their parents. These teens are dealing with fitting in, being judged, pressure from peers and parents, grades, sex, relationships, abuse, suicidal thoughts, and more. They bond, and discover that they aren’t alone in their feelings, and that you can find friends (and romance) in unexpected places.
7. Mean Girls
When thinking of movies about how awful high school is, Mean Girls is probably one of the first ones to come to mind. The entire plot of the movie is about how mean teenaged girls can be to each other in high school. It shows how cruel cliques can be to people who are new or different in some way. The girls in this movie are outwardly cruel, and come up with elaborate schemes to hurt and humiliate their peers. They gossip, start rumors, mock people for their clothes and appearance, and come up with plots that are seriously immoral and sometimes dangerous. They put students through torture and try to ruin their lives. Even the “good” girls sometimes fall prey to this system, doing what they think is necessary in order to fit in. The saddest part is, it’s not even that far-fetched.
6. Remember the Titans
Remember the Titans isn’t your typical high school movie. It is a football movie set in 1971, and T.C. Williams High School is one of the first schools in the U.S. that is no longer racially segregated. Bringing African American students into the school causes tension, and having an African American coach (Coach Boone) take over the position of the beloved Head Coach causes uproar in the football-obsessed town. Students deal with all of the usual high school stresses in addition to some very intense issues with race. For most of the movie, things in the school are incredibly tense, with altercations every day, protests outside the school, and vandalism of Coach Boone’s home. However, under the guidance of the inspirational Coach Boone, the football team bonds and then helps the school and the town come together and form a community. In the end, the school is a pretty good place to go, with regular high school stress and with race becoming a minor issue instead of the major issue it once was.
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This movie deals with a lot of the darker aspects of what teenagers deal with in high school. This movie shows students go through issues of insecurity, anxiety, abuse, homophobia, love, alcohol, drugs, suicide, death, relationships, cheating, mental illness, PTSD, depression, and more. Students’ issues are never simple, and problems are never easily resolved, which is actually quite realistic.
4. Cruel Intentions
The main characters of Cruel Intentions seem to be obsessed with sex, drugs, manipulation, and revenge, and spend their time plotting to destroy each other’s lives. Sebastian, the main character, wants to have sex with his stepsister, Kathryn, which is more than a little disturbing. What’s more disturbing is that they make a bet that he should have sex with Annette, a virgin who advocates not having sex before marriage and, if he succeeds, his sister will reward him by having sex with him. If he loses, she gets his vintage car. Sebastian falls in love with Annette. He sleeps with her, wins the bet, refuses to collect his “winnings,” and his sister is upset and blackmails him to get him to break up with her. Also in this movie, someone sleeps with someone for revenge; someone is blackmailed about their homosexuality; someone’s drug problem is made public; and someone dies. High school is complicated.
3. The Craft
The Craft shows many of the typical problems of high school students, but adds a magical twist…and some murder. This movie focuses on a girl who moves to a new city and makes three new friends at school. What they have in common is that they are all witches. They start to develop their powers together and use them to overcome some of the insecurities and problems in their lives. The main character, Sarah, wants her new boyfriend to treat her more respectfully; her friend Rochelle wants revenge on a racist bully; Bonnie wants to remove her scars to feel more beautiful; and Nancy wants to get rid of her abusive father. All of the girls get their wishes, but it doesn’t turn out exactly how they had hoped. Things get complicated, people get hurt and killed, and eventually everyone sees that you can’t make your problems magically disappear.
2. The Harry Potter Movies
Who wouldn’t love to attend Hogwarts? Well, maybe it’s not something everyone should wish for, since the school seems to attract a lot of murderers and other dangers. Dealing with all the pressures of high school are hard enough, and when your bullies are witches and wizards and can torture you in a multitude of magical ways, it adds a whole new level of danger to the situation. On top of all of that, Hogwarts hosts a multitude of other dangers including (but certainly not limited to) magical creatures that can kill you, curses; a violent sport played high in the air on broomsticks; a tree that can beat you to death; a forest that’s too dangerous to visit (except during detention, of course); the occasional prison guard that can literally suck the happiness (and life) out of you; a tournament that puts students through tasks that can (and sometimes does) cause their death; and a wizard who can’t seem to die, and wants to kill a large portion of the population. Maybe Hogwarts isn’t the best place to send children after all.
Carrie is an example of a classic movie that shows how unbearable high school can be. Carrie is a troubled young girl who is abused at home and relentlessly bullied at school. Luckily, in real life, kids who dump pig’s blood on someone at a prom would be arrested, and no one would use telekinesis to then brutally and supernaturally murder a bunch of the students at the dance.