Having recently celebrated my 30th birthday, you can guess that I was born in the year of Our Lord 1989, despite having just been ID’d to buy knives in a store last week (the age for that being 21). This means that my teenage years have been between 2002 and 2008, otherwise known as the period in history when all the stereotypical Hugh Grant romantic comedies came out (give or take). As I, myself, tried to navigate the confusing world of crushes and intrapersonal relationships in a hostile world, it was the happy ending of the clumsy characters like Bridget Jones and Colin from Basildon that gave me hope for my future. Here’s what I have learnt about love from these classics of the genre.
Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) and Bridget Jones, Edge of Reason (2004)
I had not read Pride and Prejudice in school until my 4th year of high school, so the references to the beloved Jane Austen’s novel were lost on me, but it taught me that no matter how messed up and clumsy you are, someone somewhere will still like you. As a teenager bullied for being fat when medically underweight, this “bigger” girl who was perennially starting a diet but managed to win the affections of two really handsome men who would fight over her (quite literally) became something of a role model over the years, and showed me that looks weren’t everything.
Love Actually (2003)
While its romances are all a bit dreamy and in some cases 100% inappropriate, it is the storylines that reflect other types of love that are the dearest to me: the love of a grieving step-father and step-son, the friendship of a lifetime between an ageing rockstar and his manager, the love of a sister for a brother in need even when it pushes away her own happy ending. As I cry every Christmas alongside the “chubby employee”, I’m reminded that romantic love isn’t the only thing in life that fulfills us, no matter how much emphasis our society puts on that.
About a Boy (2002)
Honestly, I think I have watched 90% of Hugh Grant’s filmography. This film, which revolves around deception for the most part of it, is a big lesson in why honesty is the best policy, as well as how relationships (not just romantic ones) are what fulfills us. I may be an introvert, but even I need a strong support system around me.
Although it came out in 1995, it’s obviously a teenage film and I didn’t watch it until much later. Loosely based on the plot of Jane Austen’s Emma, it taught me that good deeds need to come selflessly and not with a hidden agenda, and that there are more important things than being popular in school (which I never was).
Two Weeks Notice (2003)
I’ve recently re-watched this one, which taught me it’s not worth changing who you really are, no matter what your family want you to be, what demands come from a building a successful career and what men find attractive. It’s worth sticking to your guns and do what fulfills you, and the rest will fall into place.
Notte Prima degli Esami (2006)
I don’t think any other country makes as big a cultural fuss around the school-leaving exams as Italy does. It absolutely feels like the end of the world, but then you’re done with it, and while it’s sad to leave behind a whole chapter of your life, life ahead is full of possibilities. My night before the exams was 2 years after the film came out, and I think it helped me put this momentous event into perspective. It also put into perspective just how the crushes we have in our teens are not the love of our lives, no matter how much we might feel that way.
A Cinderella Story (2004)
Has anyone ever watched yet another version of Cinderella for a reason other than Chad Michael Murray? What I like about this version, which does away with princes in a castle, is that Prince Charming is also someone looking to find himself and his path in life. Overall, it’s a tale that teaches us that the most important thing in life is to believe in our dreams and fight for them.
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004)
This is a much underrated noughties gem with the usual plot that the underdog beats the popular girl, but there is so much more to it with the role of lying to impress and just how far a teenage girl would go for love of a rock band. While it is mostly a tale of friendship, I think the lesson about not being ashamed of who you are is valid for all kinds of love.
The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)
What list of noughties films would be complete without Lizzie McGuire? The lessons learnt in this film is, as in any good teenage film, that you should never trust appearances, but also that true love is about sacrifice (as exemplified by Gordo).
This blog post is part of the #LoveBlog2019 series on the topic of Laughter.
Meet your hosts
Brita of Belle Brita
Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. On her blog and social media, you’ll discover more than authentic storytelling–she’s brutally honest about pursuing a fulfilling and joyful life even with Crohn’s Disease and depression.
Mardra of Mardra Sikora.com
Mardra Sikora believes in the power of words. She uses both fiction and non-fiction to advocate for and with her adult son, Marcus. She is co-Author of The Parent’s Guide to Down Syndrome: Advice, Information, Inspiration, and Support for Raising Your Child from Diagnosis through Adulthood. Her work is also included in a variety of anthologies, national websites, and at Mardrasikora.com