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Love Lessons From 80’s Teen Movies

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The 80’s are responsible for so much: acid washed jeans, feathered hair, cocaine shortages. Beyond the bad clothes, questionable hair, and the turbulent times of the Cola Wars, there lie a creamy center of delicious 80’s teen movies. 80’s teens were just like us! Getting detention, going to prom, and macking on the hottest dudes and chicks around. Let’s take a look at some of the love lessons sweet, sweet 80’s movies taught us.

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Never forget.

The Breakfast Club

What a good looking bunch of high school kids who might all have been actual teenagers in this film. Each one from a completely different clique, thrown together on a gloomy Saturday to serve detention in the school library. The horror! Ignoring the fact that only five kids in the whole school are in detention that day and just happen to be polar opposites of each other, at the end of the day they learn they’re all a criminal, an athlete, a basketcase, a princess, and a brain.

“Does that answer your question?”

“Well, no, my question was about love lessons.”


Don’t you have an essay to write?

Claire and Bender, the princess and the criminal, have some intense sexual chemistry. She’s not as pretentious and uppity as she seems, and he’s got a sensitive soul and a switchblade. Maybe couples can overcome their differences! Maybe opposites really do attract! Or maybe the princess dating the criminal will really piss off her parents, and impress his friends.

You have food in your teeth.

Lesson Learned #1: Bad boys are sexy. Pretty, popular girls are sexy. Pissing off your parents is sexy. Believing that this relationship would actually last any longer than the weekend is hilarious.

Smoke up, Johnny!

Allison, the basketcase, is a dark ball of sweaters, hair and self-hatred in the back of the room. Andrew is the bully-athlete racked with guilt. They get to know each other over the haphazard contents of Allison’s bottomless purse, and guess what they discover? Both of their parents are assholes! Andrew is already intrigued by Allison, but it’s when Claire swoops in and brushes Allison’s hair back and whisks on some eyeliner that Andrew can actually see her face. That anyone can see her face, for the first time, at the end of the movie. Turns out, she’s a looker.


Lesson Learned #2: Caring about your appearance, and not projecting how much you hate yourself and the world, might make you look and feel better. She just pulled her hair back and put on some mascara and it made her feel good, which in turn, made her look good. Andrew was already into her. By what magic did this happen? He talked to her and asked her questions about herself. What a concept.

All this face sucking could be yours!

Bonus Lesson: Nerds still get no play. This is patently false. Jocks and bad boys don’t snag all the pretty ladies. Pretty, smart ladies scoop up the brainiacs.

Brian gets it. In college.

Pretty In Pink

Andie, the poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks, has a crush on Blane, the rich preppy kid. Their respective social circles don’t approve of this pairing and Blane caves to peer pressure from his asshole friends to not see Andie. Meanwhile, Andie’s BFF, Duckie, is madly in love with her, but she won’t give him the time of day. Andie is hell-bent on getting Blane.

How does she even know him? From classes? Just seeing him around campus? Is he simply the vision of what she thinks the ideal boyfriend should be and look like? This moderately attractive dude whom we never see her have much of a meaningful conversation with that would spark this love affair she’s conjured? Yep, sounds about right.


Then there’s Duckie, the adorable, adoring best friend who hangs on Andie’s every word and lives to make her smile. He’s funny and witty, and he actually knows more about Andie than her name and her social standing. Duckie is life coach, shoulder to cry on, cheerleader, confidant, fashion consultant, with a genuine love and appreciation for all that Andie is. And she’s not interested? Yep, sounds about right.

So, Andie and Blane surmount their impossible odds and end up together at prom, Duckie reluctantly supporting her all the way.

The many faces of love.

Lesson Learned #1: Fantasies are powerful. Get a good idea of what you want in your head and you’ll ignore absolutely every sign flashing in your face that you’re making the wrong choice. Drama is powerful and exciting and it makes the relationship feel extremely important. All the drama of Blane and Andie’s friends disapproval motivated them to prove everyone wrong. We’ll show you! And I guess they did. Though, probably not for much longer than that weekend.

No drama = no excitement = end of fantasy = end of relationship.


Lesson Learned #2: It’s real easy to take for granted what is familiar and comfortable, and loves you for all that you are. There’s no drama or anxiety or second guessing or insecurity. How boring! Did Duckie look like a boring guy? Not in the least. But relationships should be a challenge! And hard work! And take convincing and changing who we are for another person! And putting up with less than stellar treatment! Wrong-o. Thriving on drama is a game for the immature. Real connection and intimacy, understanding and respect, dawn on you slowly like a sunrise. You’ll miss out on that if you’re hunting for unicorns.


Some Kind of Wonderful

Audiences were pissed with the ending of Pretty in Pink, so John Hughes wrote Some Kind of Wonderful, only now the lead is a redheaded guy and the BFF is the girl who loved him all along.

Working class boy, Keith, is hung up on Miss Popular, Amanda, and boldly asks her out. Watts is Keith’s quirky, tomboy BFF who supports and assists Keith’s pursuit of Amanda, despite her own feelings for him, and Amanda’s shitty treatment of her. Keith chooses to ignore that, as well. I guess pretty girls can do no wrong.

Watts begs to differ.

Amanda’s ex, Hardy, is humiliated that she left him for a social inferior and tries to screw things up for her and Keith. After blowing his college fund on diamond earrings for Amanda, who did less than nothing to deserve them, Keith tells Hardy off by pointing out that money may buy you toys, but it can’t buy you love or respect. Ding, ding, ding!

Amanda realizes she should cool her jets on her serial dating and figure out what she really wants. She gives Keith back the earrings she knows he was insane to give a practical stranger in the first place, and Keith realizes his BFF Watts, who has been by his side through this whole ordeal, is the one who really deserves them, and they kiss.

Aww. Duckie finally got Andie.

Montage of love.

Lesson Learned: Don’t give outlandish gifts to people you hardly know in an attempt to win them over. Don’t put all your efforts into some idealized version of what you think a relationship is, and miss out on the amazing and loyal friend who obviously loves you. Wake up, people! Don’t make them keep remaking these movies until you get it.

We’ll send these guys after you.

Can’t Buy Me Love

No, money can’t buy you love, but it sure as shit can buy you popularity.

Ronald thinks the answer to all his high school woes is to be popular, so he makes a deal with popular cheerleader, Cyndi: he’ll pay her $1,000 to act as his girlfriend for one month. She agrees to the arrangement, and the two spend the month hanging out and getting to know each other. This fake relationship leads to real feelings in Cyndi for Ronald, but he’s so focused on the goal of becoming popular, he misses all the signs. His plan is working, though. Pretty soon all of the popular kids want to hang out with him.

This is what being popular in the 80s looked like.

When their month is up, Ronald dramatically, and cruelly, breaks up with Cyndi in front of all her friends. He starts dating her best friends, which is a shit move on all parts, and ditches his nerdy friends to hang with the jocks. Ronald becomes king shit of the school while taking king shits on his true friends.

True friends.

Cyndi’s real boyfriend comes home from college to a party the whole gang is at, hears about her “relationship” with Ronald, and dumps her in front of everyone. Cyndi explodes with the revelation that it was all a scam, they all fell for it, and that at least she got paid to be in on it. Burn. Ostracized by everyone at school now, Ronald defends a nerdy friend getting picked on by a jock by reminding them they all used to be friends once and that all these labels are bullshit.


Whoa. Everyone agrees. Cyndi sees that deep down, Ronald is still the same awesome guy she fell for, and goes after him. This time, Ronald picks up what she’s laying down, and they ride off into the sunset on a riding lawnmower.

This is how you close the deal.

Lesson Learned: all the glitters is not gold, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and true friends and romantic interests like you for who you are, not what you can do for them. Cyndi’s friends could not have cared less about who Ronald was, only how cool they might look being with him.

Also, just hanging out with someone and getting to know them, without all the pressure of “dating” or going on a “date”, is a surefire way to find romance. Don’t be so focused on the goal of “dating” that you miss out on the dating you’re actually doing.


Say Anything

Lloyd Dobler is the man to end all men. Sweet, caring, ambitious, loyal, intelligent, confident, and great personal style.

*dreamy sigh*


Immediately after high school graduation he asks out the valedictorian, Diane. She, too, is smart, confident, caring, considerate, and very pretty. Probably considered nerdy by her high school cohorts, Diane never gave two shits what they might think. She was too busy bettering herself and helping others to care. Very genuine, but not very socially experienced, Diane accepts the offer of a date from Lloyd. The two really hit it off.

No, you hang up first!

Diane has no pretensions on how to act or be, so she’s just naturally vulnerable with Lloyd. Lloyd is nervous about actually getting the girl, but he pushes through that fear and their relationship deepens. Diane’s dad doesn’t approve of Lloyd and convinces her to dump him. A blow to his pride, Lloyd writes her off.

“Fine. Don’t be with me. See if I care.”

Shit. He’s right.

“But, I do. I do care. This is all bullshit. I know you love me! Tell me you don’t love me while I blast this Peter Gabriel song outside your window! I dare you!”

The Lloyd Dobler Effect

Diane’s dad is caught scamming the IRS and she feels betrayed. This prompts her to realize what a gem she had in Lloyd, that she was right about him and her dad was wrong. Diane and Lloyd both put their pride aside and reunite, just in time for Lloyd to accompany Diane to England, where she’s continuing her studies.

Lesson Learned #1: Trust your gut, people. Don’t listen to your friends or parents or society. If your gut is telling you to go for something, you do it. Your gut won’t steer you wrong. See what happens when you ignore it? Anguish, heartache, Peter Gabriel…

Trust it.

Lesson Learned #2: Take that risk. Lloyd didn’t know Diane. School was over and he knew she was leaving for England at the end of summer. He said, “Fuck it, I’m doing it!”, and went for it. He didn’t try to impress her or buy her affections, he was simply Lloyd. Diane didn’t try to be someone she wasn’t, either. Two honest people getting to genuinely know each other. Look at all the delicious love that came out of that. These are your role models.

This could be you.

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