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Our favorite movies and TV shows for back to school

Starting off a new school year sucks sometimes. Luckily, there’s no shortage of movies and TV that try to capture the magic and joy of high school and higher education.

They aren’t all successful, but these films and shows are perfect to start romanticizing your college career and make the start of the semester bearable.

Movies

“Booksmart”

The world’s greatest movie distribution company also made the best ever Graduation Eve comedy. Good for a watch at the start and end of each school year, if only to make you sentimental about high school.

“Lady Bird”

Lady Bird doesn’t want to go to college in California, she wants New York, and she’s willing to put her family in debt to do it. Little did she know Oxford, Ohio is home to one of the eight original Public Ivies. If she did, she would’ve come to Miami, obviously.

“Midsommar”

Maggie doesn’t think I (Sean) should put this on the list because “it’s not about college.” Wrong. This movie includes not one but TWO different anthropology students working on their dissertations. It doesn’t get more educational than that.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Is Ezra Miller trending for all the wrong reasons currently? Yes. Does that make this movie any less perfect at capturing the apprehension of going off to college and leaving your friends for the first time? I (Sean) haven’t watched it since Miller’s recent headlines, but my guess is no.

“The Theory of Everything”

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Nothing will make you feel more incompetent at the start of the semester than watching a dramatized version of Stephen Hawking’s life, including his time at college.

“Hairspray”

This movie contains one of the best musical soundtracks in recent memory. Zac Efron plays the perfect Link, Elijah Kelley sings like an angel and John Travolta sings a love song to Christopher Walken. It doesn’t get much better than that. 

“Lemonade Mouth”

It takes place in a high school. It has banger songs. It’s the last Disney Channel Original Movie from the golden era… And we personally think Miami should invest in a Mel’s Lemonade vending machine.

“Dead Poets Society”

You should definitely stand on your desk in all your classes during syllabus week and start reciting poetry. Professors love stuff like that.

“Good Will Hunting”

Matt Damon wrote and starred in this movie, and it shows. But the sappy 90s music, Bostonian accents and beautiful Minnie Driver make it worth it. And if you watch this the same day as “Dead Poets Society,” you can have a Robin Williams double-feature.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

The plot of this movie wouldn’t exist if Peter Parker weren’t trying desperately to go to college with his friends.

“High School Musical 2”

Undoubtedly the best of the High School Musical movies. Do not watch unless you have the extended edition — missing “Humuhumunukunukuapua’a” would be a tragedy.

“Dear Evan Hansen”

One of the funniest movies out there, and for all the wrong reasons. Given the subject matter it shouldn’t be this full of laughs, but Ben Platt’s acting is so bad it’s worth it.

“Pitch Perfect”

I (Maggie) have never been in a college a cappella group, but I imagine their lives are much the same as those in “Pitch Perfect,” complete with riff offs and shower duets of “Titanium.”

“Animal House”

I (Maggie) didn’t care much for this movie, honestly, but I felt it would be an injustice to leave it off a list about school movies.

TV shows

“Sex Education”

Boobs! Vaginas! Penises! STDs! Condoms!

“Never Have I Ever”

Were you a hot mess in high school? Did you embarrass yourself and your family on a weekly basis? If so, 1) we're sorry and 2) you may want to stay away from this one to avoid flashbacks … Devi does not hold back on the second-hand embarrassment. 

“The Politician”

We all remember the kid from high school who wanted nothing more than to be a politician. Well, here’s your chance to get a dramatic look into that kid’s life. Plus, Ben Platt actually excels at acting in this show.

“Pen15”

In middle school, I (Maggie) wore the same loose, gray sweatpants at least three days out of the week, complete with a soccer jersey and rainbow tennis shoes. Plus, I had bangs that made me look like Dora the Explorer. In short, I was Maya Erskine when I was her age.

scottsr2@miamioh.edu 

penml@miamioh.edu 

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