Adults love to reflect on the high school experience, whether they were the most popular kid in school or were depressed because of their acne.
Thanks to all those iconic movies and TV shows of the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s that we keep citing, we tend to assume that those four years of hormones are the most important part of our human development – even more so than in our 20’s and 30’s, when you tend to make the most consequential mistakes, have more meaningful romantic encounters, and experience changes in your mental health.
Our cultural obsession with high school is both understandable and, at times, odd. It’s nice to think about a time when you didn’t have crippling college debt, were driven around by your parents, and covered your bedroom in boy band memorabilia. The way this fascination manifests itself in the media can be a bit hairy at times. Certain depictions of teenage sexuality—and you know the ones I’m talking about—can be thrown into a creepy, masculine perspective that often depicts minors, typically girls, as small adults rather than children.
In general, I don’t think there’s much to get out of the teenage experience other than the fact that we were all horny and dumb — which is probably why the most popular high school show on the air right now, Riverdale, Episode after episode must take place in another cinematic universe, and its prestige counterpart euphoria has no idea what it is.
This leads me to my recommendation of lovesickness highone of the most adorable pieces of reality television in recent years, both impaling and giving in to our weird high school fantasies.
The new British dating series, airing today on Prime Video, transports a group of twenty-somethings to an American high school to find their “true love” – or rather, someone to take to prom by the end of the competition to potentially be crowned royalties and win $100,000. An ideal setting for a television genre that primarily documents immaturity and pure madness. Likewise, it has an overtly comedic tone and sensibility, backed by hilariously snappy narration from high school film queen Lindsay Lohan, whose voiceover work is worthy of an Emmy and a Grammy.
The series can best be described as an updated version of The CW’s reality series The beauty and the outsider which asked the question, “What if beautiful women and nerdy men had things in common?” in the mid-2000s. This program was more of a social experiment, with occasional romantic outcomes, than a standard dating show. lovesickness high similarly categorizes its cast as high school archetypes — the jocks, the artists, the beauty queens — and forces them to participate in decidedly non-academic “academic” challenges. For example, when students attend a physical education class in an episode, a swim coach instructs them to give each other mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (read: make out for five minutes). Another fitness class offers a very sexualized floor workout.
lovesickness high is a great alternative if you’re used to the shiny, expensive aesthetic of a island of love or love is blind. (There’s a lot of navy blue and cheddar yellow.) One of the show’s main delights is its theatricality and how immersed the performers are in this ridiculous world. There’s a charming cast of teachers who lead the group challenges – or “classes” – and a terrifying Headmistress who enters every scene Jaw Theme. It’s eerie, hilarious and somehow awe-inspiring to watch as the adult students eat in a cafeteria surrounded by extras, are transported in a yellow school bus, and carry backpacks probably filled with foamy peanuts, never going anywhere unaware of the absurdity of their surroundings burst out laughing. The end result is more than a little dystopian.
When the cast first gathers, you can see how quickly they all merge with their early fashions, mid-parts and face fillers, subverting the distinctive archetypes they were originally introduced as. Notably, there are a handful of queer students — a refreshing slice of inclusion in the historically heteronormative canon of dating shows. Her task of finding a date for the prom immediately seems more difficult than that of her straight peers. It’s a specific fear that you can also glean from the racial minorities on the show. But it also makes the competition tougher, more dramatic and petty.
In this way, any attempts to find their “true love” — or at least a companion to hang out with throughout the show — seem deeply sincere. No matter how many followers these adults have on Instagram or how many people pine for them in real life, being surrounded by lockers and bulletin boards is something that creates a palpable sense of dread and desire, from the entire cast to be accepted.
“No matter how many followers these adults have on Instagram or how many people pine for them in real life, being surrounded by lockers and bulletin boards is something that creates a palpable sense of dread and desire, from the entire cast to be accepted.”
A major challenge in producing reality television today is that so many people who are cast are clearly obsessed with reality themselves and understand what roles they want to play and how to play them. Despite the artificial setting, the cast works lovesickness high also looks extremely authentic in the facade. For example, one of the first students we meet is a guy named Huss – a name I can only assume is short for Hussein or Hasan, but still sounds extremely bro-ish in that shortened form. The moment he tries to compliment two coeds on their eye color—and misidentifies one—we understand he’s a playboy, albeit a clumsy one. You can tell he’s unaware that he’s the show’s antagonist until he’s stamped by multiple women for his shady ways. By then it will be too late.
On the other hand, Junaid, perhaps the flirtiest, most outgoing person on the show, has no idea he’s getting a rogue haircut because he’s so popular with his peers. His social image is completely shattered when he tries to make an enemy of a popular blonde named Megan, for no other reason than he probably assumes she’ll get a mean girl haircut. (In the few episodes I’ve seen, she doesn’t). Overall, the discrepancies between how these students perceive themselves, how they are treated by their peers, and how they appear on screen is amusing to watch.
lovesickness high Ultimately, without the literal voice of Lohan, casting his comedic voice would not be possible. Iconically husky voices don’t always age well, but the actress — who’s always snappyly photographed with a cigarette — somehow transports you back to her work in the early and mid-2000s with her subtle but effective performance.
In each scene, a serious, romantic moment between two students is immediately punctuated by Lohan’s sarcasm in the voiceover. But the show still retains its sweetness with all of its sardonic one-liners. Likewise, I boldly predict it lovesickness high will be a better comeback role for her than the Christmas rom-com she’s starring in later this year on Netflix, which is almost certainly written by an algorithm and won’t be remembered after a week.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/lindsay-lohan-launches-comeback-with-the-wild-reality-show-lovestruck-high?source=articles&via=rss Lindsay Lohan Makes Comeback With Wild Reality Show ‘Lovestruck High’