MY TEENAGE SELF'S UNREALISTIC RELATIONSHIP GOALS SHAPED AND CEMENTED BY 80s/90s MOVIES: A TOP TEN LIST
Being a teenager is disgusting. I envied my peers who had any amount of self-confidence during puberty, they seemed superhuman. I spent most of my time between the ages of 13 and 17 waiting for various zits to calm down, being gangly and awkward, and decked out in headgear and braces.
With no social life to speak of, my very permissive mother allowed me to watch every single romance I could get my hands on. I’ve therefore allowed a whole host of completely ridiculous and patently awful relationship tropes to hitch a ride with my subconscious from my fraught, impressionable, hormonal adolescence to my current absurd adulthood.
Some common themes: cool and/or troubled gentlemen with sartorial savviness (mostly leather jackets) and a healthy disregard for authority.
10. Tracey Prescott + Johnny Rourke (Reckless, 1984)
He’s a rebellious teen outcast from the wrong side of the tracks, obviously, who rides his fucking motorcycle inside the school to pick her up. Wow. Their worlds collide and they fall in love and he unleashes her inner hellraiser – they make out in a pool! – but they have hardly anything to say to each other, so this led me to believe you can sustain a relationship your entire life on hot, smoldering stares and makeouts forever.
9. Star + David (The Lost Boys, 1987)
The movie mistakenly wants you to root for Michael and Star getting together and Michael rescuing her but the movie is quite wrong. Let’s all just agree that David was way cooler. He was teaching her all about being undead, taking her on great road trips up and down the coast on his motorcycle, and certainly didn’t care that she toted around a little kid as a pet/companion. Plus, he was all about her fortune-teller/Coachella look even though he was obviously Goth. That’s love. The sex was probably insane, too, which in my mind at the time involved a lot of candles and eye contact and asking if she was OK every five minutes until they both fell asleep spooning.
8. Julie Richman + Randy (Valley Girl, 1983)
What’s not to love about a cool dude with awesome clothes and hair fighting for a chance to hang out with a girl he thinks is cute? The movie would like you to consider him “punk,” but I don’t know, besides his half-hearted spiky hair, he’s more Flock of Seagulls than he is Sex Pistols. Nicolas Cage’s dopey, sleepy, laid-back, fun vibe would inform my whole dating life in my 20’s, which obviously turned out to be a real Hard Time™ every time. The part where they make out in front of her house in leather jackets and then he does a silly little happy dance after became a secret wish/prerequisite for me, which explains why I only had two boyfriends in ten years.
7. Max + Hilly / Ian + Deb (Weird Science, 1985)
(it's a tie because both couples are interchangeable, sadly)
It was nice and everything that the nerdy boys got the cool girls in the end, but I frankly never thought they had as much pizazz or humor as the two bad boys, Ian and Max. We never really saw much of their relationship with the girls, but as far as I could tell, they were better dressers, way more attractive, funny as hell and knew how to have a good time. Sure, they were bullies, but pantsing Gary and Wyatt while they were being major creeps by ogling tumbling girls was doing the gymnastics team a service. They also obviously knew their way around a woman even though they were supposedly only 16 or so. So absolutely confident they could both bang Kelly LeBrock! Plus that fun little dance they do at the mall? Heart eyes.
6. Julie Buckman + Tod (Parenthood, 1989)
Theirs was the giddy, playful, volatile type of love that seemed safe and fun. He pulls out a camera and says “Now we can record our love,” which to me, at 14, meant that they’d take adorable pictures of themselves while they kissed and listened to music and she’d later use them as bookmarks or tape them up on her mirror. Shaving each other’s heads in her mom’s bathroom was also just the right amount of wackiness, as was eloping. Such a good time! He loved her weirdo little brother and felt very at home with her family. Her mother’s overall exasperated acceptance of the two of them really solidified in my mind that this was a love that was going to last.
5. Mona “Hatchet-Face” Malnorowski + Milton Hackett (Cry-Baby, 1990)
This duo holds a special place in my heart. As a teenaged ugly duckling, it gave me hope that a really cool guy would see past my physical weirdnesses and be wildly in love with me. He didn’t care what other people thought of her, he was so obviously smitten. He loved her for her. Hatchet-Face’s self-confidence despite her face was also quite inspiring. It made me march right up to a handsome boy at a school dance and mortify myself with a rubber band popping out of my braces the second I opened my mouth, halting my already non-existent social life well into the mid-90’s.
4. Nora Diniro + Mark Hunter (Pump Up The Volume, 1990)
Shy, quiet bookworm by day, foul-mouthed, horny philosopher by night. Bonus: kickass music collection. He had just the right amount of danger, and 15 year old me was positively high with the thought that Nora’s love gave him all this courage he needed to stick it to The Man and start a pirate radio show, inciting all kinds of high-school rioting. She was smart and sassy and had good outfits and didn’t take shit. The chemistry between these two was undeniable and it made me want to find my own Happy Harry Hardon to drive around while he screamed obscenities to his fifty or so fans.
3. Randi + Jimmy Montrose (16 Candles, 1984)
What’s is so great about this relationship is that it’s never mentioned. It’s just ASSUMED. They just ARE. Like, yeah, of course Randi and Jimmy Montrose are together! Duh! The way she looks for him at the dance when she and Claire first get there, you know she really likes him and doesn’t give a shit about being with any other guy. They dance so cool together, they both have great style, and how he backs her up when the Geek/Farmer Ted gets on her last nerve is endearing as hell. We should all have a Jimmy Montrose.
2. Jeannie Bueller + Boy in Police Station (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986)
I personally had no interest in Ferris and Sloane’s relationship. They were so boring, I mean, they ditch school to be actual nerds at a parade and a museum. Worst. Granted, a police station is probably not the best place to pick up a guy, but Jeannie knew what was up with Boy. The way he coolly gives her the once-over and then analyzes her entire life correctly. He was giving her hot, bleary-eyed, hungover, druggy sexiness; that intoxicating blend of aloofness and barely perceptible interest. Charlie Sheen’s greatest work, don’t @me. Blistering banter ensues. And you just knew it was gonna work out too because she wasn’t scared of him, and he wasn’t interested in calling her “Shauna” which meant he was probably not going to be in jail for long, so he could really get to know her.
1. Susan + Jim (Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985)
He's a musician who’s away a lot on tour, she's a cool, carefree new wave babe. He uses the personals to write her love notes while he’s away. He's really fucking into her. Super protective of her too: enlists his buddy to keep an eye out for her because she’s totally gonna get herself into hijinks, but he loves her enough to let her be herself. When he mistakenly thinks his buddy schtupped her, he is so wounded. Plus the bit of business at the end when he feeds her popcorn? LORDT. A+ boyfriend.