Americans Explain How Hollywood Movies About High School Compare To Their Own Experiences

group of fresh graduates students throwing their academic hat in the air
Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

My entire childhood was comprised of watching Hollywood movies about high school.

From High School Musical, I learned that theater is uncool and no jock would be caught dead in a musical. The Breakfast Club made me think Saturday detention wasn't so bad. I learned that teachers can be manipulated from Clueless, and Mean Girls showed me how divided high school kids are based on their cliques.

When I actually started high school, none of those lessons helped me. I knew several jocks who were talented musicians and starred in every musical. I never had Saturday detention, but I heard enough horror stories to know it was awful. Teachers are not fools who bend to a student's will, and cliques are almost a myth. Yes, the cheerleaders hang out with other cheerleaders, but they don't dump food all over the honors kids.

Very few high school movies reflect the actual high school experience. Redditors know this all to well and were ready to share their stories.

It all started when Redditor Many-Guide-8986 asked:

“Americans, how true are ‘American high school movies’ compared to real life high school?”

Unrealistic Understanding

"Different enough to warp the expectations of certain people. Someone upthread said that movies are designed by Hollywood execs to fill story niches and archetypes, which is pretty accurate. We're watching a story that has to be carefully crafted to fill the expectations of all the audience members, and the audience expects Reese Witherspoon as prom queen, Bill Gates as captain of the chess team, Jack Black's the clown, and Brad Pitt's the quarterback...even though that doesn't actually happen."

"There's more truth in Napoleon Dynamite than there is in Bring It On or Mean Girls."

– ScarnAndMacklinFBI

Party In The Parking Lot

"Most high school students don’t arrive to school early enough to tailgate in the parking lot"

– mattpsu79

"most are also not in their mid 20's and driving BMW's and Range Rovers, etc."


Time To Talk

"A weird thing is how they seemingly show it as if kids just have time to talk and chat in the middle of the day in the hallway by their lockers when in reality you're booking it across the building because you have 5 minutes to go from the first floor, get to your locker on the second floor, and then run all the way across the 3rd floor to your 3rd period class."

"Also dunno about y'all but I got only 25 minutes for lunch in HS, so nobody was milling about during lunch either in the halls."

– 14DusBriver

I Vant To Drink Your Blood

"there are way less vampires in real life high schools."

– NorthImpossible8906

"way less"

"i notice you didn't say none 👀"

– thedustynerve

"yeah with all the werewolfs they dont stand a chance"

– lunamuna239

Bullying Isn't Funny

"Speaking just for my school, not even close. Bullying is never as obvious as it is in movies (nobody dumps their tray on anyone or purposefully trips the new kid, actually most people are pretty friendly), most of the teachers and the principal are well- liked, there aren't well- defined cliques (nerdy group, jocks, cheerleaders, etc.) but there are large friend groups that intertwine and overlap and there is definitely drama. They do get active shooter drills and the amount of drugs/ smoking/ vaping right, though. Also, crazy, entitled parents."

"Edit: We don't go to school at 10 am, the sun is almost never up until after we arrive. And yes, we do get 2-3 hours of homework most days."

– CJgreencheetah

"I remember one time in school, I was walking down the hall with my books in my arms. A random bully ran down the hall and slapped them down, hard, sending all my stuff flying everywhere."

"In a movie, everyone would point and laugh. In movies, that sort of obvious bullying of a nerd would be treated as funny and normal."

"In reality, the other kids gasped, and a few random kids stopped and helped me gather up my things. I remember one girl saying, "That was so mean.""

– rotatingruhnama

On A Mission

"The fact that Superbad spent a whole movie trying to obtain alcohol is totally realistic. We absolutely had whole evening adventures trying to get booze. The Hawaii driver's license was definitely a thing in the mid 1990s. California IDs had holograms earlier and couldn't be faked anymore. Several people at school at fake Hawaii IDs back then. I'm sure one of the writers must be my age from CA."

"I watched this movie with an ex (South American), and he was confused because they all just bought booze from the tiendas when they were like 13."

– ninjaparking

The Most Important Meal Of The Day

"No family eats breakfast together before school/work."

– Sea-Sport7982

"And nobody goes out for a big sit down breakfast before school, either."

"I remember laughing because The OC always showed the characters going out for a nice breakfast in a restaurant before class, as if teenagers get up that early."

– rotatingruhnama

"This always drives me nuts in tv & movies. I don’t know ANYONE whose mom makes a huge spread like that for breakfast every day. Pancakes? Sure - but just pancakes, not also fresh cut fruit and orange juice and toast and etc etc etc. No one sits down to a huge meal like that every morning."

"AND, it’s usually dark out when most people are leaving for school/work. Only in the summer is bright that early."

– karmaandcandy

No One Is Just One Thing

"Friend groups are more porous than they make. For instance, there were football players that also acted in school plays, or wrestlers also in the math club."

"The bullying is less dramatic. Nobody is actually getting locked in a locker."

"We did actually use those red cups at parties that you always see in movies, my non-American friends were always shocked when I told them that."

– The_Nomadic_Nerd

Teenagers Only

"IRL there are far fewer 35 y.o. HS students."

– getbeaverootnabooteh

In Awe Of No One

"No one cares that much about the "popular" group of students, most people just mind their own business if they aren't with their friends."

– daaaa_meemer

A Regular Hangout

"We had 2:30 in between class periods. We did not have time to lean against the lockers and talk. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it snows, sometimes the wind blows; we had to go to school then too."

"In the winter it was very cold, in the summer it was unbearably hot. I bet they've fixed that because the expensive electronics would cook themselves. A school didn't need anything like that when they built the building."

"Usually there was some construction crew outside banging and hammering on something. There was no restaurant that we all hung out in. We did mob a pizza place a few times after the dances."

"They got mad because their employees were too busy, they didn't make enough money off of us and because the old people buying expensive food couldn't get through us. We caused numerous major traffic jams because we kept crossing the street."

"The cops showed up to direct traffic. The pizza place complained. The police went to the school and they told our parents that we had to stop. They let kept the rec center open later for us instead. They actually did put on a really good after party for the middle school dances after that. They just herded us all into there and told us we'd need to go home if we left or we'd get into trouble."

– Jaysnewphone

Just Dance

"I’m gonna take a guess that people don’t settle disputes with dance-offs"

– Cal1094

"well how disappointing"

– siciowaThe9

"When I was back in high school, break dancing was undergoing a small come back before getting swallowed up by Capoeira becoming the hot new thing."

"I witnessed several dance-offs. Only one was about a date. Most were about who was "da'best.""

– zenprime-morpheus

As a horrible dancer, I’m quite relieved we never did this!

Every family has customs or traditions which are unique to them.

Be it all gathering together to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol every Christmas eve or an annual fried chicken picnic with dark and stormies every fourth of July. They are well aware not everyone does this, which makes it all the more special.

However, depending on the way it was introduced to them, some children are raised to think certain customs or habits done by their family are, indeed, normal.

Only to grow up and realize that theirs might have been the only family in the world which partook in them.

In some cases, this discovery is met with laughs and maybe the tiniest bit of embarrassment.

Other times, it's no laughing matter.

Keep reading...Show less

It might be super easy to find the lyrics to a song now that we've all got the entirety of the internet in our pockets, but it didn't used to be so simple. Unless you owned the album, and it was one that actually came with the lyrics on the sleeve/in the case, you just kind of had to guess if the words were unclear.

Keep reading...Show less

All jobs are important. If they weren’t, those jobs wouldn’t exist.

However, some people view their profession as so important that they begin to develop a superiority complex.

This can be true for all professions, but Redditors maintain it’s more common in certain professions.

Keep reading...Show less
People Break Down The Most Beautiful Places To Visit In The United States
Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

America the beautiful.

So much to see. So much to experience.

Just because we don't have exotic oceans and ancient history doesn't mean there isn't majesty to take in.

There are many vacations to put together.

And now we don't have to use a paper map to plan.

Our apps and GPS have it all planned out.

Redditor driedkitten wanted to compare notes about the greatest ways to see the USA, so they asked:

"Where is the most beautiful place in the United States?"

So far the cliffs of California is my favorite part of the US.

The Falls

niagara falls GIFGiphy

"Subjective of course, but Crater Lake is certainly a sight to behold."


"My home state of Oregon is full of beautiful places, South Umpqua falls, Illinois River, and Multnomah falls. Are some favorites."


Oh Hoh...

"A tie for Acadia, Hoh rainforest, and Rainier in the fall."


"I was going to say Acadia. It's very underrated for some reason. My mom's friend by coincidence ended up being my English professor in college and we went on a trip to see family in ME. We stopped at Acadia for a day and she said it reminded her a lot of her visit to Greece."


"Hoh rainforest is absolutely devastatingly beautiful. Hiked the whole Hoh river trail when I was 17 and it's still near the top of the list for my favorite things I've ever done."


In Awe

"Glacier national park. I was continuously in awe that the place was real life."


"The vistas of this road, on a motorcycle, were beyond breathtaking to experience. Would 100% do it again. Being on a bike allowed for stops at the waterfalls where there was no room for vehicles to pull over, and the views from the tunnels under the road were supernatural."


The Road Ahead

"There is a stretch of the Navajo reservation where there is no cell service, AM or FM radio reception. The road stretches before you for miles surrounded by red rocks touching blue sky. The buzzing undercurrent of modern connectivity fades away and your brain can be truly still."


"We did a little unscheduled off-roading in that area when we came to a road closed barrier. A Navajo couple pulled up alongside us while we pondered the dirt road heading roughly in the direction we wanted to go and assured us it was passable. Really lonely place... but wonderful."


On a Clear Day

Mountain GIF by Sunshine VillageGiphy

"Mount Rainier."


"If I stand right at the doorjamb of my front door on a clear day, I have a beautiful view. I owned this house for 15 years before I figured that out. You can't see it from any other position in the doorway, or if you're outside."


Mountains are hot. That is all.

See the Country

Happy Dance GIF by PLAYMOBILGiphy

"Depends on what you’re looking for. The United States is a big place."

"For me - Hawaii is hard to beat."


Beautiful scenery...

"Zion National Park is the most well-known place in Utah. But my entire state is an outdoorsman's paradise. LOTs of beautiful scenery in both the northern and southern parts of the state."


"Totally!!! And it’s very different. I personally prefer Southern Utah because the red rocks make me feel like I’m on Mars. But I grew up in the salt lake valley, so the mountains lost a lot of their majesty. But if I’m being honest, I miss them terribly."


Smell the old growth

"I’m incredibly biased, but the most beautiful place is the California redwoods. Drive up 101, and then detour towards Petrolia. There is absolutely nothing like it. Roll down your windows and drive 35mph. Smell the old growth. Stop at the pull out. Take a small hike. It’s worth it."


"Yes, 100%. My brother lives in McKinleyville and I am going to see him the end of April. Can't wait. It's my happy place. They are like the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls... you have to see them to believe them. Those redwoods are something else!"



"Yosemite! You drive thru the tunnel and come out the other side. Looks like heaven/Utopia."


"Did a hike in Yosemite on January 1 last year. A spectacular way to start the year. I had seen photos of it, seen it in movies, watched countless videos on Youtube about it but -nothing- prepares you for the sight of El Cap as you turn that corner. I was very nearly moved to tears."



Episode 1 Boat GIF by The SimpsonsGiphy

"The Shenandoah Valley. Its an amazing place if you're an outdoorsman. Hiking, fishing, hunting, bird watching, camping."


All the wonders of the world. I may have to check all of these out.

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.