The following contains spoilers for the Netflix Original Movie Senior Year.
by Netflix Secondary year is the latest teen comedy to be released on the platform, following the popular trend of recent years. Many new teen comedies attempt to recapture the magic of those of the late 90s and early 2000s, with some succeeding in unique and exciting ways and others, sadly, missing the mark. Secondary year falls into the first category, serving up a big plate of nostalgia with a clever, quirky twist.
Steph Conway (played in flashbacks by Angourie Rice and in the present by Rebel Wilson) is the cheer captain and the most popular girl in school. She’s even up for prom queen until a cheerleading stunt gone wrong puts her in a coma for 20 years. When she wakes up at 37, Steph returns to high school for the last month of the school year to reclaim everything she’s lost. Using the fact that Steph has been in a coma since 2002, Secondary year becomes both a parody and an homage to teen movies of the past.
The secondary year narrative device is straight out of an easy A
Secondary year opens in the media with an adult Steph talking on her phone in an Instagram Live, much like Olive does with her webcam in Easy. Steph says she will explain everything in detail, starting with the beginning of her story. Sure enough, the movie’s timeline finally gets to Steph filming her apology video, with her sweet, awkward dad (reminiscent of Stanley Tucci’s character in Easy) holding the cellphone for her.
Last year’s cheerleading scenes are a parody
Before she fell and went into a coma, Steph was the captain of her school’s cheerleading squad. As in Bring it on, the title of captain is extremely important. Upon waking up after 20 years in the hospital, Steph hears the receptionist say “cheerleader” is awake, and she quickly corrects, “Cheer captain.” The cheer squad performs routines that aren’t exactly school-appropriate, and their stunts are extremely complicated. When Steph rejoins the team 20 years later, she finds the team has changed a lot and they only rejoice over social and political issues.
High school year social hierarchy is a game about naughty girls
Steph struggles to readjust to high school after her coma, but things get easier once she befriends Janet, Yaz, and Neil. Contrary to mean girls‘ Janis and Damian, Steph’s new friends, don’t hold a grudge against the popular kids, who are incredibly socially aware and not exactly mean. The real bad girl is Steph’s rival, Tiffany, whose daughter is now the most popular girl in school. Even young Steph, who becomes popular in her freshman year, doesn’t abandon her friends like Cady did. There is also a humorous and inappropriate musical number during a school-wide assembly that appears to be a tribute to the Plastics’ performance of “Jingle Bell Rock”.
The senior year makeover is a nod to Clueless
If there’s one teen movie that stands out from the rest as the undisputed star of Secondary yearhis clueless. Alicia Silverstone herself even makes a cameo in the film as Deanna Russo, a former student of Steph’s school and everything Steph wants to be. Steph also has a clueless poster on her bedroom wall (which seems to suggest the existence of both Alicia Silverstone and Deanna Russo in this universe). In a flashback, young Steph gets a makeover like Cher does for Tai in cluelessaltering both his appearance and his personality.
The senior year love triangle parallels The Princess Diaries
Following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Princess Mia Thermopolis, young Steph ends up pursuing the most popular guy in school. As The Diary of a Princess“Josh Bryant, Secondary yearBlaine Balbo turns out to be a total jerk. The main love interest, Seth Novacelik, is Steph’s own Michael Moscovitz, a close friend who has been in love with her for years. Like Mia and Michael, Steph and Seth eventually reunite at the end of the film. This time, however, it’s on stage at Steph’s graduation instead of a royal ball.
To see those clever nods, Senior Year is available to stream on Netflix.
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