If you are looking for a classical parallel to everyone’s favorite teen classics such as Pretty in Pink or Can’t Buy Me Love, then you have definitely come to the right place. In this contemporary take on high school’s trivial drama of “who’s dating who” and “what fashion trends are so in this season”, the story of an outcast, her dream guy, and a popular socialite is told. So, if you feel a throbbing desire to watch a “girl like boy, boy has an evil, superficial girlfriend that everyone hates but also somehow loves at the same time” then definitely add this to your Netflix queue.
Like most teen movies in the past and present, this film is all about following a young adult’s bildungsroman. An often bullied or unnoticed altogether girl suddenly strikes the attention of her peers when she must change out of her rags and into her riches for a scholarship interview that is pertinent in the opportunity to attend U.C. Davis. Before even reaching her first period class, she is gawked at by her best friend and invited by her crush to a pool party.
An awkward, over-achieving high school senior, Dani Barnes, played by Nesta Cooper, has had an unshakable focus on getting into U.C. Davis, the school of her dreams in an effort to transform her love of animals into a career by becoming a veterinarian. Her character is relatable in a textbook aspect because we have all seen this girl.
She has had a decade long crush on competitive swimmer and Olympic protégé, Cameron Drake – played by Keith Powers. The name may ring a bell because he is an up and coming leading man and has been recently seen looming in television shows and the big screen. His breakout role was in The New Edition Story, a three-part docuseries on the hip-hop/R&B boy band. Following, Powers has had a recurring role on Famous in Love – of which has just been renewed for a second season.
Cameron Drake’s ex-girlfriend, Alexa Medina, played by Alicia Sanz, soon seeks forgiveness from Dani for bullying her for so many years. Don’t get too comfortable yet! It is all a set up to publicly humiliate Dani and ruin her relationship with her now boyfriend Cameron, by pulling her into drinking and cutting class fervently. But, of course, every high school movie needs a villain for the audience to instantly despise and Sanz performs the part perfectly.
In the end, the truth comes out – as expected. The entire student body sees Alexa for the evil, malicious person that she is, and Dani apologizes to all of the people that she has hurt from her phase of losing herself.
Lessons to be learned from #realityhigh: do not change who you are to be friends with people who never cared about you to begin with, you cannot trust everyone, and trust your instincts.