The Wrongful Narrative of the High School Social Hierarchy in Teen Rom-Coms

The portrayal of the structure of the High School social hierarchy in Teen Rom-Coms is artificial. Its inability to display an achievable balance of both diligent academic achievements and an exciting social life is unrealistic to the current conditions of high schoolers, in both private and public school settings. The exaggeration of stringently separating high school friend groups in a layered hierarchy format can be somewhat adapted, however, the perception of the impact of academic excellence is far off. Films will inevitably dramatize the high school experience to add excitement and thrill; who wants to watch a high school junior plow through problems from a Pre-Calc textbook at 9pm on a Thursday night? Nobody.

However, these rigid groups of popular jock partiers, awkward math nerds, dumb emo stoners, and “misunderstood” outsiders are unrealistic symbols of the complexity of the high school social hierarchy. In reality, even when firm friend groups are set, academic excellence in school is praised, especially as students progress through their years. As they advance from freshmen to seniors, the growing anxiety towards college and their futures grow larger, as well as the high tense competitiveness of the school environment. This tense habitat creates envy towards those who thrive academically, as opposed to teasing them for their overwhelming time spent engaging in academic endeavors.

The 2019 film Booksmart, directed by Olivia Wilde, acknowledges the dual ability of “popular” kids to excel both academically and socially. The film focuses on two graduating high school girls who come to the upsetting and truthful realization that their popular counterparts, who spent their high school years partying and living carelessly and recklessly, are attending the same colleges as them, having somewhat equal or better futures. Growing anxious towards the end of their adolescent life, they venture out to spend their closing high school days at parties, attempting to make up for lost time before they enter the adult world of responsibility.

The film delves into the increasing probability that peers in high school, no matter “social class” in the social hierarchy, will end up at the same colleges as you and equate to the same status in life following their academic careers. This is an accurate depiction of the High School Social hierarchy; while it is possible to be weird and smart, there is a common ability to be both smart and a popular partier, since the acceptance into prestigious colleges and programs is so sought after.