Add me to the list of people raving about American Teen, the documentary that follows five students through their senior year of high school in conservative Warsaw, Indiana (watch the trailer below). It hits select theaters July 25, and when it comes to your town, you’ll want to see it. Cameras follow princess Megan (a very, very mean girl, who claims to have matured since filming); sweet geek Jake (who needs some help with the ladies — “we both suck at life” isn’t a good pickup line); jock Colin (who has the pressure of scoring a basketball scholarship if he’s going to afford college); heartthrob Mitch (the Blane of this real-life homage to John Hughes films); and rebel Hannah (pictured, center, the Andie-like outcast/artist with a fragile heart, who just wants to get out that town and make movies).
I definitely related most to Hannah: At a screening last week, I found myself wanting to scream, “Just hold on! We all think you’re the coolest!” (A fact confirmed when the room applauded after reading her where-are-they-now graphic at the end of the film.) I left thinking that most EW readers would love her. Which got me wondering if we were all a bit like her in high school… I wasn’t a “rebel”; I was an “in between.” I was a cheerleader, but chubby, and never invited to the post-football game cabin parties
that I only found out about years later. I was also in band, chorus, and National Honor Society, which meant I got along with most people, but never had a date (unless you count my gay best friend Mark, who came home from art school to take me to my senior prom). Like Hannah, I knew by the start of my senior year that I didn’t belong in my town, and that made those last 12 months there excruciating. Just a few of the moments I wish had been filmed during my senior year: (1) Me getting annoyed with my AP History classmates for laughing at Kenny G when he played Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Why is everyone so close-minded?, I fumed. Silently, thank god. (2) The time I told my mother that I could “figure my life out” if I just stayed home from school that day. (I actually believed it. She let me. Of course, I still haven’t.) (3) When a reporter from the local newspaper interviewed me and my best friend Susi at graduation because he thought it was cute that we finished first and second in our class. He asked her how she felt about graduating, and she answered, “I’m happy to get out of this s— hole. You can print that.” (Strange, he didn’t.)
Your turn. What label were you in high school?