I WILL STAY silent no more. Where the hell is the Sweet Valley High movie I was promised?
Young(er) me almost lost her life when it was announced back in 2009 that Juno writer Diablo Cody had signed up to write an adaptation of the much-loved book and TV series.
I’ll admit, I haven’t read the books, but the television show was an integral part of the human being I am now.
Why? Well it all started one rainy Saturday morning in my childhood home. I was probably sick of Barbie’s shit (I spoiled her, it’s my own fault), so I turned on my bulbous portable TV to see what was on TCC.Source: NaVell Lee/YouTube
There it was, lighting up the screen.
Two fabulous blonde twins, living in the glamorous surrounds of what appeared to be Beverly Hills or another equally pink and yellow part of Los Angeles, cruising around their highschool with their impossibly cool friends.
What little Catholic primary school uniform-clad, mass-going, grey Dublin dwelling Nicola would do to climb in there and make herself at home.
Then there were the twins themselves, and their immediate ‘which one are you’ personalities.
Where you cool, rebellious, and as flirty as Jessica, or were you studious yet reliable like Elizabeth? I was a total Elizabeth, without the perfect boyfriend Todd. I also didn’t have my own PC to write my tween musings on.
I watched the show without fail every Saturday, despite recent viewings confirming that it’s absolutely rife with bland, preachy life lessons disguised as sexy plotlines. These are the type of things you’d read in Sunday Sport every week.
Some of the more batshit ones include:
- Jessica (who is a young teenager at the time), poses for a painting in a bikini and the painter paints her nude. When the painting is revealed she’s immediately slutshamed for posing nude and is constantly wolf-whistled through the school. Bants!
- Elizabeth falls into a coma after an accident on her boyfriend Todd’s motorbike, and when she wakes up she has a completely different personality.
- Elizabeth also gets literally kidnapped at one stage. Poor girl. The guy gets sent to jail, then when he’s released he kidnaps Jessica. Get a GRIP.
- Todd gets addicted to hustling people at basketball and becomes addicted to it. He also joins a gang in the second season.
- Lila pretends to be working class to get a fella that’s working class.
- Lila also gets kidnapped in the third series, and actually is so annoying that she puts them off.
It was just so OTT dramatic, and took itself so seriously. Pretty much like the tweens who were watching it.
However, it could be surprisingly ahead of itself at times. Remember Elizabeth wrote a spy novel and made all the lads secondary characters because she was sick of Hollywood’s shit?
Don’t even get me started on the acting.
But it was a world where the school paper actually made it out to the students daily, there were enough students to actually merit a school paper. How foreign is that, in a world where my whole class shared one PC with Windows 95 installed.
But there were important life lessons I needed to learn.
Don’t take drugs, don’t let boys do things you don’t want them to do, be kind to the less cool kids, don’t not be popular, blonde, and hot.
I didn’t heed the last one (I’m a brunette) and I weep to think of how teens would receive the show now. If they can’t deal with Friends, SVH hasn’t a hope.
And yet, that opening theme song still gives me goosebumps. I’m off to the sunkissed surrounds of Sweet Valley for 20 minutes mam, don’t let the hot milk for my Weetabix cool down. In her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay wrote of the books:
I am in my mid-thirties but my love of Sweet Valley remains strong and immediate.
When I read the books now, I know I’m reading garbage, but I remember what it was like to spend my afternoons in Sweet Valley, hanging out with the Wakefield twins and Enid Rollins and Lila Fowler and Bruce Patman and Todd Wilkins and Winston Egbert. The nostalgia I feel for these books and these people makes my chest ache.
She later goes on to express her joy when in 2011, an update, Sweet Valley Confidential, was released.
At 2.30 in the morning, on the day of its release, Sweet Valley Confidential downloaded to my Kindle. I spent the next three hours reading. Reading this book was a vocal and emotional experience.
She goes on to describe the book as ‘terrible’, an ‘insult to the memory’ of the original series, but she still read it again when she got home from work. The ‘exquisite badness’ was simply something that reminded her of her first time cracking open one of those books.
In Sweet Valley everything worked out. Everyone was happy, everyone was well looked after, everyone had wide smiles and bright white teeth. You’d didn’t compare yourself because it was like comparing your gaff in rural Laois to an apartment in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Worlds apart.
Now, the movie adaptation has gone through numerous iterations since that shining light in my life was first announced nine years ago. How long more do I have to wait?
According to Deadline, writers Kirsten Smith and Harper Dill have both been signed up by Paramount to head the new film. Promisingly, Kirsten Smith co-wrote Legally Blonde and 10 Things I hate About You.
However, there has been little to no updates since this announcement last year. Why are we sleeping on this? Why is no one demanding THE TRUTH?
It’s the perfect time to revive it, on the back of these incessant Netflix reboots. How timely is the Unicorn Club, too? Everyone is obsessed with becoming a Unicorn, just visit your local Penneys.
Give us the movie we deserve, include the ludicrous plots of the books (evil third twin, anyone?) and the sunbleached idealism and airiness of the TV. Add a dash of dark humour and make it perfect.
I’ll be waiting for the cinema to open on Saturday morning.
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