Twenty years ago today, a little movie called Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion premiered to mixed reviews. Many compartmentalized it as a silly comedy starring “that chick from Friends as Michelle” and “the other one who went on to star in American Pie, oh wait, that’s Mena Suvari.”
But any from-the-start Romy and Michele fan knows three things: 1. Mira Sorvino is a comedic legend in large part due to this movie, 2. “Michele” is spelled with one L and 3. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion was a trail-blazing film that, while a comedy on its surface, embodied messages about friendship and feminism — and encouraged us all to be a little better about living in the moment.
Thankfully, Romy and Michele has since become deservedly lauded more for everything from its “fun, frisky use of color” and its era-straddling soundtrack to the girl-power dynamic between the two leads – a testament to Robin Schiff’s impeccable writing, Mona May‘s dazzling costume design and the no-holds-barred performances from Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow.
Here are the biggest lessons this cult classic has instilled in us, ensuring Romy White and Michele Weinberger are still making every day a Romy and Michele day for us two decades later.
1. When bonding, it’s about the little things.
When you’re best friends, finding common ground isn’t a chore. In fact, it can be as simple as relating to vomiting episodes over bad Mexican food.
2. A nice suit does not necessarily mean a guy is super loaded.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a potential partner to have his s— together, but get the hard-hitting questions out of the way early and come prepared with a solid getaway excuse.
3. Sometimes, the cornerstones to a successful diet are gummy bears, jelly beans and candy corn. (Or getting mono.)
We’ve all tried stupid diets, but sometimes it’s fine to try something really dumb just to learn a hard (or in Romy’s case, valuable) lesson.
4. Standing out is a million times more fun (and memorable) than fitting in.
When you look back on high school, especially in photo form, you’re not going to be as entertained by having donned washed-out pastels as you will by having channeled the “it” pop star of the moment (in Romy and Michele’s case, Madonna).
5. Make sure the car drives before pretending to have sex with a guy in exchange for it.
Insert variables for (favor) and (potentially career- , morality- and/or reputation-altering activity) here.
6. A good playlist is the No. 1 ingredient to a successful road trip.
If it provides good background music for you to make inappropriate faces at highway passersby and their snot-nosed children, all the better.
7. There’s a HUGE difference between crushing on someone and being in love with them.
And if the guy doesn’t carry a big notebook strategically in front of his junk when you’re around, he probably doesn’t feel the same way. Or something.
8. Having a dirty mind is something that you’re very likely not going to grow out of.
But on the plus side, it can entertain you enough to get you through a gym session while wearing 16-lb. shoes. Also, never go to town with a guy who drives a rowboat.
9. A guy named Art Fry invented Post-Its.
Knowing a miracle glue recipe can save you when you’re crafting a huge lie, but maybe brief the Heather Mooneys of the world before they blow your cover.
10. Sometimes you just need to dress the part, not embody it.
Why not take the shortcut to success when you can get away with it? Save your energy for the dance numbers — and knocking back Businesswoman Specials (which, let’s be real, is a euphemism for Happy Hour).
11. Never trust someone who swipes your food.
Especially without asking, especially when you’re hangry and especially when it’s that squeaky-voiced, magnet-toting shrew Christie Masters.
12. Stepping outside your comfort zone is the only way to grow.
You only live once, so make out with a cowboy (especially if he in any way resembles Justin Theroux) — and for God’s sake, buy the damn dress.
13. Don’t sell yourself short.
Sometimes you have to do things you don’t like to get to where you want to be long-term, but know your worth. As Michele so wisely points out, if you’re a talented and experienced fashion designer, you don’t necessarily have to settle for selling Ban-Lon smocks at Bargain Mart.
14. Fashion doesn’t have to take a vacation at the gym or laundromat.
Statement-making opportunities don’t just come at the climax of
the movie life. Don’t be afraid to show your true colors all day, err day.
15. When life gives you fabric, fold scarves.
Yoga, hot baths, massages, etc. might be go-to relaxation techniques for many, but do what works for you, even if it’s just organizing accessories with your BFF.
16. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Whether it’s splitting daily chores, telling off your enemy (see No. 17 below) or busting out a magically choreographed-in-advanced dance sequence at any point in time, together, anything is possible.
17. It’s never too late to tell someone how you feel, good or bad.
There’s something to be said about being the bigger person, but if you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, give the Christie Masterses of the world hell.
18. The person you were in high school will help shape who you become, but ultimately might be a stranger to you later in life.
Your teenage self will always be lurking deep down (and if you were anything like Heather Mooney, in black lipstick and a hoodie), but as you grow, that person will become less of an identity and more a memory of an old friend who you remember existing and loving but can’t quite level with anymore (and that’s okay).
But don’t fret: Part of your old self will never leave.
19. Real friends will always give it to you straight.
This can be handy honesty about looking cute without the drawback of conceit, but also for when you’re acting immature — and as Oscar Wilde once said, “A true friend stabs you in the front.”
20. And true friendships don’t depend on who’s the Mary and who’s the Rhoda.
Looks don’t matter when all you need from your best friend is a sway session to Cyndi Lauper‘s “Time After Time.” After all, you’re just as cute as your BFF — and in some cultures, maybe cuter.
Happy 20 years, Romy and Michele!