Finding realistic teen movies is hard. Finding realistic teen relationships in teen movies is harder. And finding realistic teen relationships in realistic teen movies? Damn near impossible, if we’re going to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of enjoyable unrealistic teen movies that are amazing or, at the very least, entertaining. A film’s value doesn’t rest on how well it upholds reality, and a lot of the time we go to a movie for a sense of escapism, not to see a play by play of what an average day looks like for the average person in their average life. But there’s something to be said about a movie that’s so real that its realness hits close to home, or a movie that portrays relationships that you see every day instead of one that came out of a Hollywood factory, bloated with cheap cliches and bearing little resemblance to reality.
So yeah, finding a movie, especially a coming-of-age movie, that portrays relationship dynamics that actually exist IRL can often hold a special place in our hearts, because they feel so real and sincere. Who doesn’t have a soft spot for that? If you’re looking for movies that fit this description, check out these eight relationships in teen movies that are actually realistic. Sure, there are more out there, but these really struck a cord for us.
Tom And Summer In '500 Days of Summer'Perhaps not a teen movie, but it's a movie that nearly every teen feels required to watch for the unrequited love factor. The realism in Tom and Summer's short, whirlwind romance lies in how uneven their romance was. Summer enjoyed hooking up with Tom and spending time with him, but she wasn't interested in defining their relationship as anything super serious. Tom, on the other hand, was convinced that Summer was the one, and is devastated when she doesn't feel the same way. Think of all the movies in which the main love interests fall in love in the end, despite any reservations they might have had before. 500 Days of Summer doesn't fall into that cliche and leaves viewers with some tough love: True love isn't always requited, and it doesn't have to be because, hey, life isn't fair. 500 Days of Summer
Andie And Duckie In 'Pretty In Pink'Andie and Duckie don't have a mutual romantic relationship, but Duckie's unrequited feelings for Andie are very realistic...in the most annoying way. Duckie is the perfect example of the bitter male friend who is "friend zoned" and feels entitled to their friend's affection. We all know someone like that, unfortunately. Pretty In Pink
Juno And Paulie In 'Juno'What's great about Juno and Paulie's relationship in Juno is how tangibly awkward it is. Paulie (baby daddy extraordinaire) is very into Juno. Juno? Eh, she's really not so sure how she feels about Paulie, especially as her pregnancy progresses. But Juno's knee jerk impulse to treat Paulie with indifference and distance was actually just denial on her part and a fear of being vulnerable. How many of you have pushed people away because of that? I think we all have at some point. Juno
Alike And Bina In 'Pariah'In Pariah, Alike is a teen lesbian who is trying to feel more comfortable in her own skin. She begins to develop feelings for her new friend, Bina, who goes to her church. One night, Bina starts making moves on Alike, and they end up hooking up. Alike is thrilled and hopes to define the relationship the next day. But Bina? She's not interested and claims she's "not really gay" and was simply experimenting and got carried away. Alike is devastated in a way that anyone can relate to, but there's something unique about this. Alike and Bina's relationship--if you want to even call it that--encompasses so much anxiety and disappointment that many gay women feel when they crush on or fool around with women who identify as straight or aren't comfortable with the idea that they might not be. Pariah
Oliver And Jordana In 'Submarine'Far too many movies make teenagers out to have great game, to be experts at seduction. In Submarine, Oliver and Jordana's relationship is complete with the awkwardness that entails so many real teen relationships. For example, Oliver is awkward AF about wooing Jordana enough to get her to sleep with him and thinks that preparing a fancy dinner and pulling a beefcake pose on a velvety duvet is the perfect way to seem sexy. Of course, it backfires, but haven't we all tried to look or seem sexually appealing in the most awkward ways? Yes. Submarine
Anna And Jacob In 'Like Crazy'People might debate over how realistic the actual plot of this somewhat heart wrenching drama is, but there's no denying the realism of this movie's portrayal of the agony of long distance relationships. Anna--an exchange student from the UK--falls in love with Jacob--an American student--and overstays her visa. When she goes back home and tries to return to the States soon after, her visa is denied, leading to a massive clusterf**k. Their relationship is strained, Jacob gives up his job to see Anna, Anna keeps trying to appeal the visa. The only solution is marriage, but they're not on the same page about it. They each try to have relationships with other people, but they don't work out. While they end up together in the end, their relationship is undoubtedly changed by the pressure of trying to make a long-distance relationship work and trying to move on when it stopped working. Like Crazy
Dave And Aubrey In 'The First Time'There aren't a lot of realistic virginity narratives in movies, but The First Time does a pretty good job at it. Dave and Aubrey fall into this whirlwind romance and end up losing their v-cards to each other and...it was awful. Like, really bad. Bad, bad sex. They both think something is wrong with their relationship because of it, but eventually realize that bad sex happens, and it's less about them and more about the fact that very few people actually have a romantic, out-of-this-world sexual experience on their first go. There needs to be more movies with storylines about that as more than just a punchline, seriously. The First Time
Mia And Sebastian In 'La La Land'Okay, so La La Land isn't a teen movie, but hear me out: Think what you want about this movie, but I think we can all agree that Mia and Sebastian's relationship did a good job illustrating the ups and downs of love. We see them at the beginning, in their honeymoon phase, deliriously in love with each other. What could go wrong? Well, no relationship is perfect, even theirs. So many relationships in pop culture depict infidelity or something else equally dramatic as the catalyst of a relationship's downfall. What was great about Mia and Sebastian's relationship was that theirs started to fall apart in little ways. They had little arguments over schedules and careers, not over someone sleeping with someone else or all that melodramatic nonsense. Most relationships comes to a head this way: Miscommunication, built up resentment, disappointment, differing paths. The fact that you could watch their relationship fall apart without anything scandalous was what made it feel so real: it reminded you that it can happen to you too, and if it hasn't yet, it probably will. La La Land
What other movie relationships should be on this list? Tell us in the comments!