Friendships come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes your friendship is based on shared history, sometimes based on mutual interests, sometimes based on sending regular meme dumps, sometimes based on roasting the absolute shit out of each other (in a loving way… mostly). But it’s frustrating to see that a lot of the time in pop culture, female friendships don’t really get that kind of scope.
Our so-called ‘realistic friendship’ portrayals are chock-full of mindless tropes like gabbing over pink drinks, fighting over a (frankly unworthy) love interest, or just plain tearing each other down for the sake of plot continuation.
no thank you very much
That isn’t the case for Olivia Wilde’s brand new flick, ‘Booksmart‘. It’s an intelligent and wildly funny film helmed by two female best friends who — get this — genuinely love and support each other without any impact from negative and tired friendship tropes. Who woulda thought!
‘Booksmart’ does a really solid job of subverting a lot of the tropes we’ve come to expect from films (especially those in the teen comedy arena). The protagonists, Molly and Amy, are best friends who are capable of being wholesome and sassy, but still get through the difficult moments without biting each others’ heads off.
1. Not competing for romantic attention
If there’s one trope I’ve seen a million times at least, it’s a war over a shared love interest. Two totally smart and capable women fight tooth and nail to make the other look bad in front of their crush, and make themselves look superior. It’s gross.
And sure, usually by the end of the film either one person gives up saying, “they weren’t for me after all,” or both of them decide that the love interest isn’t worth the friendship (duh). But the fact that that’s a common trope at all is SO FRUSTRATING.
In ‘Booksmart’, there is no competition for romance. Granted, they have different sexual preferences, but even competition in general feels foreign to Molly and Amy — they both want to see each other succeed, romantically or otherwise.
float like a butterfly, smash like a fuckin’ champ
2. Building each other up
Far too often, women are pitted against each other — in friendships, careers and families. The biggest one though? Our aesthetics are constantly being compared against each other.
We’re taught from a young age that there’s not a lot of space for women in the room — and that fosters an environment where we feel obliged to duke it out against our fellow female friends. It’s absolute rubbish, and has been the downfall of many a teen movie because it’s just… Well, tired.
This is certainly not the case in ‘Booksmart’. There’s more than one montage where Molly and Amy are literally hurling compliments at the other person, they constantly advocate for the other and when it comes down to it, their friend’s success is just as important as their own. It’s beautiful.
once more for the people in the back
3. Having open communication and acceptance
My best friend and I have the type of relationship where literally nothing is off limits. There’s complete openness — from sexual escapades and bowel movements to our mundane anxieties and deeply morbid senses of humour. It wouldn’t be weird if we spoke about anything because there’s no boundary that makes it weird.
That level of closeness is RARELY found in films, especially teen movies. And sure, you can make the argument that sexual escapades crop up in conversation a fair bit — but you’ll note that it’s rarely paired with acceptance. It’s still taboo.
One of the funniest cringe moments in ‘Booksmart’ involves a conversation about masturbation and masturbatory aids. It’s not exactly your regular teen movie fare, but it’s fucking funny and refreshing because hoo boy, you do not get to ever hear about female solo enjoyment without a big hefty dose of judgement.
GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN TOO, OKAY.
oh god do not touch the panda
All in all, it’s refreshing to see a teen movie take on these elements and completely subvert them. The end result? A comedy that’s not just hilarious, but also really honest.
‘Booksmart’ comes out on July 11th across Australia, so you can go check it out with your best female mates (not a squad or clique, coz we’re done with those tropes) and enjoy it for yourself.Image: Universal Pictures