TATBT is back, baby! As for last week's complete absence, I will simply share this exciting personal news with you: I have married Nick Jonas.
JUST KIDDING, I REALIZED ON MY WAY TO THE AIRPORT FOR A WEEK-LONG INTERNATIONAL TRIP THAT MY PASSPORT WAS EXPIRED, AND I HAD TO GET A NEW PASSPORT AND A NEW ITINERARY, AND IT ENDED UP BEING A MUCH LONGER (AND BETTER) TRIP THAN I WAS EXPECTING, BUT IT DEFINITELY CREATED SOME SCHEDULING CONFLICTS.
Aaaaanyway, you didn't really expect a simple explanation did you? This is not a simple place! I am not a simple person! And neither is Ariana Grande, and I guess that's why I can't stop talking about "thank u next," an already-iconic emotional dexterity anthem, now paired with an equally iconic not-your-average-nostalgia music video. [Ed. note: And also because so many of you asked me to write about it, and I will do literally anything you tell me to! If only someone had told me to renew my passport…]
Recreating a series of (mostly) teenage chick flicks for the song’s music video could have undermined the previously discussed emotional maturity of "thank u, next." But in execution, the song itself ends up elevating these films to the societal standing they've always deserved. Because teenage girls deserve your fucking respect!
What continues to strike awe into my cold, dead heart about the events that inspired "thank u, next" is that, with a few tweets, one song, and now, one music video, this Polly Pop-pet of a singer has managed to completely turn her whirlwind engagement narrative around from "that poor thing doesn't know what she's doing" to "oh she a bad bitch who knows what she's doing, huh?"
Mean Girls, Bring It On, 13 Going On 30, Legally Blonde: don't let anyone call these romcoms. Not because romcoms are bad — they're incredible — but because the romantic storylines in Ariana's chosen movie muses are C-plot at best. These are movies about young women finding their way through life, independent of romantic entanglements, though they do occasionally crop up with a Luke Wilson, or a Jonathan Bennett, or what have you.
But no, these are not romcoms; these are, in all their pleated, patent leather glory: chick flicks. When Ariana sang, ‘Cause her name is Ari / and I'm so good with that, she declared her extremely astute transition in genre as well. And the "thank u, next" video cements it.
Chick flicks are routinely written off as silly or lacking in merit, as though stories that center on girls and women — and especially on girls and women enjoying themselves — are somehow less consequential than films about prep school boys having a really tough go of it.
But in the "thank u, next" video, Ariana boldly reclaims the chick flick for all of us who should be proud of making our way through some shit and still having a good time with our friends, and maybe flirting with their brothers in a wallpapered bathroom. CAN WE LIVE?
Like Torrence, Cady, Jenna, and Elle Woods before her, things might have gotten off to a rocky start or Ariana, but these are women who can handle it. And, oh, the end result is somehow even better than the already exciting description of: "Ariana Grande & Friendz recreate classic 2000s chick flicks"! Let me put it this way:
Tired: Using Bring It On as a cultural reference point
Wired: USING THE BRING IT ON TOOTHBRUSH SCENE, PINNACLE OF HETEROSEXUAL PRETEEN DESIRE
Tired: Trapping Mean Girls in a nostalgic amber when its commentary is as pertinent now as it was 14 years ago
Wired: BRINGING BACK VOICE OF A GENERATION, THE "ARMY PANTS AND FLIP FLOPS" GIRL
Tired: Acting like 13 Going On 30 is not a classic
Wired: INCLUDING THE LESSER KNOWN 13 GOING ON 30 WITH THESE OTHER, MORE POPULAR MOVIES IN YOUR HUGE DEAL MUSIC VIDEO, EAT YOUR FUCKING HEART OUT BIG!
And a record-setting 55.4 million views in the first 24 hours suggest that I am not alone in being charmed by Ariana's confident retaking of the chick flick narrative. This video has everything:
Australian pop prince Troye Sivan as part of the Regina-George-esque rumor mill
The burn book (foretold by the track art) with so many not-exactly-burns on Ariana's past lovers, including a few HUUUUUGE easter eggs…
Ariana's former Victorious Nickelodeon co-stars feature prominently, including Elizabeth Gillies as a perfect Lindsay Lohan in the Mean Girls scenes, Daniella Monet as a Bring It On cheerleader, and Matt Bennett reawakening my pre-teen loins as a perfectly grumpy, tooth-brushing Cliff. Victoria Justice was not included, and I'm not sayin' nothing' 'bout it…
Ariana-as-Elle reading up on Immigration Law & Policy
All the return cameos, most especially Jennifer Coolidge in all her gorgeous rhinestone'd denim
And the brand new cameo we never knew we needed: Kris Jenner playing the wannabe “cool mom[ager]”
Bearing in mind the montages, the outfits, the sly double entendres, the cameos, and the elevation of the chick flick to represent your current state of mental growth, the only question that remains is...
10 Things I Hate About You
If there was a fifth film chosen for the "thank u, next" video, one has to assume it would have been 10 Things I Hate About You. Although it's not as aesthetically in line with the glitter and the glam of the other four, who could possibly resist saying: "I like my sketchers, but I love my Prada backpack"? Well, obviously Ariana could, but not this 90s kid. 10 Things I Hate About You is my very first definitive choice: give me 1999 Kat Stratford crunchy waves and a RBF to match, or give me death.
Romi and Michelle's High School Reunion
This is my 13 Going On 30 pick. This movie does not get the respect it deserves. I was eight when it came out, and surely I never saw it in my adolescence until it had been edited within an inch of its life on TBS, but then…oh then, did I SEE it. I was obsessed with their hair, their fruit-themed outfits, their amazing boobs — how did they make them look like that?!
To this day, I am confident there is no greater achievement in aesthetic beauty than Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino busting into their high school reunion in metallic babydoll dresses, platform heels, and diamond chokers, choosing to be themselves: not the inventors of Post-It notes, just a couple of fashionable weirdos in love.
Never Been Kissed
I'll be honest, this one is just to get to make out with a hologram 1999 Michael Vartan on a baseball field. I have never claimed to be as strong as Ariana; I am simply me: a person who wants to make out with Michael Vartan in a baggy v-neck sweater over a crew neck t-shirt while a Beach Boys song plays.
The Devil Wears Prada
I emerge out of the cozy late-90s waters for thigh-high Chanel boots, and thigh-high Chanel boots alone. But, of course, in this imagined reenactment, I'm not Andy Sachs — I'm Miranda Priestly. Always Miranda Priestly.
Because, you see, the chick flick genre represents millions of joyous laughs and countless happy tears, and so, it's sort of comical how one might think that, by disregarding them, they've made a choice that exempts them from the culturally femme, when in fact, they're benefiting from the very stories that nurtured and inspired generations of young women like Ariana Grane to grow and learn and better themselves…
All from a bunch of "chick flicks." Priestly out.
Stay tuned later this week for some festive Christmas movie coverage! Could be Hallmark…COULD BE VANESSA HUDGENS DISPLAYING EVERY CHRISTMAS MOVIE TROPE KNOWN TO WOMAN IN NETFLIX’S THE PRINCESS SWITCH. And please — oh, please — respond to me in kind with your “thank u, next” movies of choice.