The Gen-X touchstone turns 20 on Tuesday, which means it's just a few years from chain-smoking and pontificating about consumerism

By Nate Jones
February 18, 2014 01:00 PM
Universal Studios

Reality Bites turns 20 on Tuesday, which means the Gen-X classic is just a few short years away from chain-smoking and pontificating about post-college consumerism.

Two decades later, the film has become a ’90s touchstone, as well as an underrated romcom classic – just whisper the name “Troy Dyer” to a woman over 30 and you’ll be treated to an elaborate analysis on the romantic appeal of dudes in bands.

To celebrate the film’s entry into its post-grad years, we’ve outlined the 20 best things about Reality Bites.

Heathers set them up, and Reality Bites knocked them down: At the time of its release, Ryder didn’t have to pay for a drink for the rest of the decade.



“That character got me more attention from girls than anything I’ve ever done in my life,” Hawke told the New York Times. “If a woman I don’t know is coming up to me on the train, there’s a good chance she’s going to tell me that she had the poster of Reality Bites in her dorm room.

Ah, the ’90s, when “I was valedictorian!” was considered a valid excuse for turning down a minimum-wage job.

The Reality Bites theatrical poster
Universal Studios

Love. Trust. Relationships. Credit cards. Movie poster. Irony!

And thus the trend of ironic dance parties was born.

It would have played during the the infamous “Gimp” scene. (NSFW!)

Loeb got on the movie’s soundtrack after her friend Ethan Hawke convinced director Ben Stiller to listen to “Stay.” When the film’s soundtrack blew up, Loeb became the first unsigned artist to have a no. 1 hit.

A scourge that, as this very list proves, we are still living under today.

Is this exchange itself ironic? Debate the topic with your friends for the next 15 years.

The only time Me Phil Me was placed on the same bill with U2.

Not just the current one.

Is it a sign of maturity, or a disheartening look at the corporatization of culture in the years since the film’s release? Ethan Hawke argues it’s the latter: “The movie was probably one of the last moments when the girl makes the decision to go with the poor, self-serious dude. A theme of the movie is how money and corporate thinking was taking over everything.”

Which also gave birth to one of our favorite YouTube comments, which could have been taken from the film itself: “The tobacco and coffee beans cost way more than $5: there is a massive infrastructure that brings the smokes and joe to them. Not to mention the big city they live in which, again, is supported by an Infrastructure Monster that must be fed. ”

It was meant as a compliment. We think.

Universal Studios

The first film of many she would steal.

Universal Studios

The first film of many he would steal.

Universal Studios

David Spade as a burger flipper! Andy Dick as a video guy! Renée Zellweger as a blonde!

Vickie (Garofalo) has a subplot about HIV, and Sammy (Zahn) struggles with coming out, and each of these issues is treated respectfully without defining their character.

If you’re looking for a female friendship to idolize, the one between Lainey and Vickie is a fine one to start with.

“All you have to be by the time you’re 23 is yourself.” Hannah Horvath couldn’t have said it better.

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