Ever since watching Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion as a child, I dreamed of what my own 10-year school reunion might be like. I imagined that I’d still be best friends with the exact same people, that I’d be living in some luxury flat with a high-paying job, saying sayonara to all the mean girls as I hopped into my chauffeur-driven car and zoomed off to some A-list filled party. I though Romy and Michele were fun, but ultimately I wouldn’t end up anything like them.
OK, OK, I was eight, give me a break.
But the truth is, this year as I hurtle toward my own school reunion, I realise that I’m not that different from Romy and Michele, flapping around in the deep-end of life into which I was plopped fresh from university without a clue. A decade flies by without you knowing, and your highfalutin aspirations often fall short. And, sure, I might have mildly less experimental dress sense now, but I still get it wrong...sometimes.
Through all the trashy teen movie elements of Romy and Michele, there’s actually, like, some pretty valuable lessons to be learned from it – as well as a plethora of sassy one-liners. As the film turns 20, let’s look at all the things we learned from watching it (and, if you haven’t watched it, I can’t promise there aren’t loads of spoilers in here).
1. Fake it ‘till you make it
Sure, so lying isn’t entirely the best idea. In fact, it’s a pretty terrible idea, because Romy and Michele are immediately caught out for doing so – when they try to claim they invented the Post-it. However, the idea of faking their success to impress their old classmates and live the life they dreamed eventually pans out. They have the guts and gusto to dress for the jobs they want and even try to wangle a businesswoman special in the process because, sure, that’s a thing.
Despite their plan falling through, the duo are living the dream by the end of the movie, proving that mind over matter works time and again.
2. Arthur Fry invented post-its
It might not be a question you’ve always been dying to know the answer to, but it could come in handy one day. When Romy and Michele go round claiming to have invented the humble yellow reminder stickers, they are schooled by grumpy old Heather Mooney, who says:
Heather: You did not
Romy: Yeah, I did. Yeah, I… well, who did then?
Heather: A guy named Art Fry from the 3M corp. We studied it in business school.
Ouch. Nothing worse than being caught out in a lie. BUT hey, at least we got to discover the creator of our favourite stationery. Lose some, win some.
3. Mean girls never win
Romy and Michele were both awkward misfits at school, bullied by the ‘popular’ girls and always wishing they could fit in. And yet, 10 years on from school, the girls they desperately wanted to be friends with no longer matter. They are all sad and miserable because they are sad, mean people with blackened souls.
Be yourself, overcome the bullies and don’t try to befriend the mean girls. Which brings us neatly onto point four...
4. Don’t underestimate the geeks
At school, Sandy Frink was a total nerd: he didn’t bag any dates, he wasn’t popular and he was most definitely bullied. But fast-forward a decade and he’s flying into the school reunion in his own personal chopper, bossing it at life as the CEO of his own company and having had facial surgery to become a hottie (let’s ignore that bit).
If that’s not proof enough that school popularity hierarchies are worth diddly squat, I don’t know what is. After all, do you think Steve Jobs was a cool guy? Do we think Marie Curie was a mean girl? Value people for who they are, not for their ability to match their dress to their drink (see point 3).
5. Real friendship overcomes all
Watching R&M I always longed for a friendship like theirs. The duo were expertly defending one another from day one, and developed a telepathic communication. Hell, they even had a joint yearbook photo – the most adorable. And when they have a major falling out and head to the reunion SEPARATELY (trigger warning), it seems as though friendship is a lie and our hearts will be forever broken.
But Romy and Michele know nothing is worth falling out over – they are sisters first – and the pair make up, the experience solidifying their bond even further. Best friends argue, but the real friends never let go. Sigh.
6. Always be true to your sartorial self
Romy and Michele’s style might not be for everyone, but it sure is original. Personally, I salivated over their dress sense from the moment the film started, from the matching lamé dresses to the Madonna-style dark roots and even their commitment to heels, wearing them on the treadmill. The pair make their own clothes, wear what works for them and just enjoy fashion. There’s none of this Parisian all-black attire, it’s fun and hella fresh. So much so, that they end up with their own boutique on Rodeo Drive at the end of the film.
The moral of that story: wear crazy shit and get lit. Sure, the success rate is unconfirmed but there’s no harm in trying. They’re early street style stars.
7. Always have a dance routine in your back pocket
All the best movies have them, and Romy and Michele prove that having a dance routine at the ready is always a good idea – just in case you’re faced with a bunch of bullies and Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time comes on the sound system. This film was created way before Instagram and Snapchat, but just imagine the social media potential of dance routines today. Get to know.
8. Defy expectations
Every synopsis of Romy and Michele described the duo as bimbos or airheads. Firstly, neither of these words are OK. Secondly, the women prove them both wrong. Romy and Michele is all about being true to yourself, no matter what people think. So R&M aren’t neuroscientists? So what. They totally prove all the haters wrong at the end of the movie.
But most importantly, they have fun, they enjoy life and they have each other. What else really is there?