As I get older I’m starting to notice that I’m having more of a “get off my lawn” reaction to teen dramas or movies centered around the teen experience. And some of that is the knowledge that I am rapidly decaying from my own years of youth and vitality, but part of it is that it’s very obvious to me that these “teens” are anything but (most are played by people in their mid to late 20s) and are being written by people who either don’t remember what it was like to be a teen or are using the most advanced examples they’re aware of as a benchmark. Teens who are perfectly dressed, entirely self-confident, and masters of seduction of both their peers and sometimes even people much older than them. This is not universally true, We Are Who We Are had some almost painfully cringey scenes of teens trying to figure themselves out, but for a lot of the more popular teen dramas it seems pretty consistent and it’s made me appreciate Cher’s attempted seduction of Christian in Clueless that much more.
For those unfamiliar or who haven’t thought of the scene in a while, I’ll offer a brief recap: Cher, having set her heart on losing her virginity to Christian, invites him over one evening when her father isn’t home. She wears a sexy red dress, gets her makeup done, puts a roll of cookies in the oven to bake because a magazine said men like the smell of baking, and when Christian arrives she proceeds to pout, slink, and toss her hair around him in a charming but very awkward play at seduction. She rolls off the bed while attempting to toss her hair, she burns the cookies, she is so focused on her VERY SEXY LADY performance (and her own horniness) that she misses every single clue being thrown in her face that Christian is NOT into it. When she expresses her bafflement and disappointment to her friends Dionne and Murray later and Murray points out that Christian is OBVIOUSLY gay, she’s briefly embarrassed but recovers to have a good friendship with him.
To me, the humor in that scene is both the incredibly stiff performance of adult sexuality by a character who’s 16 years old, but also the fact that if Christian were straight it would have 100% worked. He would have had his own incredibly awkward seduction attempts lined up; he likely would have come drenched in aftershave, possibly with a poorly thought out present, drunk too much of the wine offered by Cher to loosen up, and the both of them may have still ended up successful in their pursuit right up until they were interrupted by the kitchen fire set by Cher’s attempts at baking. How do I know this? Because even though those memories get progressively hazier by the year, I still remember being a teenager and in my memory that did not involve designer lingerie and fancy hotel rooms, but stolen moments and clumsy attempts at what we were told was “sexy” by magazines and TV shows. I can’t speak for every current or former teenager out there, but I think that’s a lot more common than the Gossip Girl or Riverdale version of teen relationships.
Header Image Source: Paramount Pictures