There's no shortage of high school movie queen bee types, but Cindy Mancini was special

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When news broke on Monday that Amanda Peterson had died, many of her fans grieved an actress whose fame hinged on her highest-profile role: as Cindy Mancini in the 1987 teen comedy Can’t Buy Me Love.

There is no shortage of teen movie characters trying to find themselves and trying to make a connection in the battleground that is American high school, but Cindy was special – beyond just flawless ’80s style. And here are three reasons why.

Cindy let us believe that even the most popular, most put-together of high school students are human inside.

It’s no surprise when the mopey, awkward kids have big feelings. But this blond-haired queen bee defied the ’80s movie stereotype by having a rich inner life, represented by a poem that she allows Ronald (Patrick Dempsey) to read when she first decides she trusts him.

Cindy realized that high school social dynamics are just a game.

Cindy warns Ronald, “Whatever happens to your popularity, stay yourself. Don’t change to please others.” But when Ronald does become popular and does change, Cindy realizes how her fellow students are merely followers. That’s a hard lesson for a popular girl to learn. It also makes Cindy’s journey seem relatable, even if she began on top.

Patrick Dempsey’s Changing Looks

Cindy broke the whole system.

At the end of the movie, Cindy comes clean about the film’s big ruse – that Ronald paid her to pretend to be his girlfriend – with a big speech in front of all the popular kids. “He bought me. And he bought all of you,” she says. “He was sick and tired of being a nobody. Yeah, and he said that all of you guys would worship him if we went out. And I didn’t believe that. I was, like, no way! And he was right!”

Remember in the most recent season of Game of Thrones when Daenerys describes power as wheel? A wheel she wanted to break? That’s pretty much what Cindy does here, and in the wake of her big reveal, all her fellow students begin to realize how silly their self-imposed social hierarchy was.

In the end, Cindy and Ronald ride off together – on a lawnmower, no less. That’s actually a pretty great symbol of love winning out of class and social norms. And for a lot of us, that’s how we will always remember Cindy – and Amanda.