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With TV season finales airing all this month, expect some characters to come back next season as different people—figuratively speaking, of course. Or, literally speaking in regard to Boy Meets World having two different actors play Morgan Matthews and three different actors play Topanga Lawrence’s father. Here are the six biggest TV character transformations.  

Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation

Played by Amy Poehler

One of the most influential females on TV, the goofy Season 1 Leslie Knope wildly differs from the empowering (and waffle-loving) Knope we now know and love. In Season 1, she appears as the female equivalent to Michael Scott, giving goofy hand gestures and falling into a pit. Over the course of the rest of the series, her Pawnee pride emerges as she enters local politics (and makes friendship quilts!)  Nowadays, Leslie Knope fits in a conversation with Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. As she should.

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Ben Chang on Community

Played by Ken Jeong

While my mind still can’t fully grasp that Donald Glover, Alison Brie, and Joel McHale were all on a TV show together, I am as baffled with Ben Chang’s transformation. He changes from an unstable Spanish teacher to a Greendale student that gets bitten by a monkey and is living in the air vents. Chang’s kookiness makes Seinfeld’s Kramer look normal. After all, there’s something genius about a coffee table book of coffee tables, but faking your own type of amnesia? That’s straight up Ben Chang.

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Ryan Howard on The Office

Played by B.J. Novak

Ryan was merely known as the “Fire Guy” and Michael Scott’s crush at Dunder Mifflin in the first season of The Office. Over the course of the series he gets promoted to Vice President of the company, gets sent to prison, becomes a drug addict, and inexplicably bleaches his hair. He went from a second-rate Jim Halpert to an employee that only Kelly Kapoor (and Michael Scott) could love.

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Jan Levinson on The Office

Played by Melora Hardin

Just as Ryan became an irrational, comedic character at Dunder Mifflin, Vice President of the company and Michael’s ex-girlfriend Jan Levinson did as well (but even more). Famous Jan moments include her scented candle business, her fascination with her assistant Hunter, and recording a Doris Day cover album. And to think this character transformation began all with a beach trip to Sandals Resorts Jamaica.

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Topanga Lawrence on Boy Meets World

Played by Danielle Fishel

Though most characters change from “normal” to “weird” on TV shows, Topanga Lawrence on Boy Meets World has the opposite transformation. After all, you know if she was intended to be Cory Matthews’ long-term love interest, her name would be Erica or Ashley, not Topanga. She goes from a hippie that performs an interpretive dance titled “Donut in the Sky” to a bookworm perfectionist. Personally, I think Cory, famously known for having a poster of celery, would be fine with either Topanga.

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Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World

Played by Will Friedle

Since Boy Meet World’s strange character became normal, another person on the show needs to take that role. Enter Eric Matthews: the cool older brother from Season 1. Over the series, he catches the curtains on fire, hides in the couch, and calls himself “Kyle.” Most bizarrely, Eric appears as a bearded hermit named “Plays with Squirrels” at an imaginary high school reunion. Who would imagine a popular baseball player would transform into this comedic character? But, I’m here for it. The only lasting trait throughout is the everlasting “Fee-hee-hee-hee-nay” call.

Any characters missing from the list? And no, Pam Beesly making better style choices in later seasons of The Office doesn’t count.

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For Valentine’s Day, there’s no need for chocolate, certainly no need for heart-shaped jewelry, and no matter what, don’t compare your relationship to Jim and Pam’s from The Office.  

While Jim and Pam were an intriguing “Will they or won’t they?” couple for the first three seasons of the series, once they got together, no interesting storylines came from the pair. Yes, the series pretending that Pam had an “affair” with a camera crew member is worse than Michael calling Toby a “lemon-head” and a “jerky, jerk-face.”

The tension with Pam’s former fiancé, ex-Dunder Mifflin warehouse worker, Roy Anderson, and Jim’s ex-girlfriends, Karen Filippelli and Katy Moore is much needed. Otherwise, their plot points are naming their son, Philip, the same as Angela Martin and her closeted husband. (Season 8 was rough for The Office.)

While Roy is not likable as a character, he adds much needed drama. Jim and Roy go head-to-head in basketball, Roy almost punches Jim (!!!), and in re-runs, your dad always thinks that Chris Pratt plays Roy; he doesn’t.  Karen’s cool because she plays video games and wears pants to work. Also, how can you not root for an Amy Adams character that sells handbags and likes Legally Blonde? Again, the show would be less interesting if Jim and Pam got together right away.

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Rather than desire to be a boring, beige couple, why not strive to be one of these other Dunder Mifflin twosomes instead?

Michael Scott and Holly Flax (Steve Carell and Amy Ryan)

While Michael Scott’s views as a boss are so skewed—he makes Ryan buy yams for him when he burns his foot on a George Foreman Grill (yes, you read that right)--Holly’s quirkiness perfectly matches his over-the-top behavior. Instead of grimacing at his mobster impressions à la Jan Levinson, Holly impersonates Al Pacino right back at him. With Jan, Michael was forced to invest in her candle business and listen to her assistant’s music on repeat, but with Holly, he gets to pay homage to Slumdog Millionaire at a work picnic. In other words, he gets to be himself… burned foot and all.

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Andy Bernard and Erin Hannon (Ed Helms and Ellie Kemper)

Now this is the salesman and receptionist relationship that I want to see. Peppy and preppy, Andy lives in pastel-colored pants, talking about his alma mater, Cornell University, and his acapella group. Just as peppy but more clueless, Erin commits just like Andy. Other than Michael (obviously) no one committed to their roles in Belles, Bourbon, and Bullets, the murder mystery game set in Savannah, Georgia. Everyone seems to roll their eyes when Andy sings The Cardigans “Lovefool” or Macy Gray’s “I Try,” just to name a few of his jams, but Erin just bops along. They have such a great connection, I often forget that they don’t end up together…

Phyllis Lapin-Vance and Bob Vance (Phyllis Smith and Robert R. Shafer)

If there is true love on The Office, it belongs none other than to Phyllis Lapin-Vance and Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration. Even Michael’s Merriam Webster’s welding speech at their wedding didn’t ruin their relationship. Bob shows overwhelming love for Phyllis by delivering countless chocolates and flowers on Valentine’s Day and spending $1000 on a hug at the Crime Auction. You read that right. Jim didn’t even buy a Coca-Cola for Pam when he “jinxed” her. Come on, Jim.

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So, before you label your relationship as “Jim and Pam,” consider one of these other couples from The Office instead. Some other Dunder Mifflin employees would love some chocolate and recognition too.

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I’ve previously discussed the best Survivor players never to win, but, in honor of Survivor’s phenomenal 37th season ending, here are the ten best winner of the TV series. Survivors… ready GO!

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Sandra Diaz-Twine- Winner of Pearl Islands (Season 7) and Heroes vs. Villains (Season 20)

The only two-time Survivor winner, Sandra Diaz-Twine being on this list is as much as a no-brainer as Jeff Probst wearing a blue button-down shirt. Her “anyone but me” strategy allowed the Outback Steakhouse loving champ to eliminate both strategic and physical threats along the way. Sandra’s the queen for a reason, or maybe two million reasons.

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Tom Westman- Winner of Palau (Season 10)

The winner of forever my favorite season, New York firefighter Tom Westman led the dominating Koror tribe of misfits to the merge without losing an immunity challenge. Along the way, he caught a shark, created my most adored Survivor alliance with dolphin trainer Ian Rosenberger, and stood on a buoy for 12 hours against his alliance partner. Tom’s power over the entire 39 days continues to be one of the most impressive games in the show’s history. There’s a reason that I own the Koror buff from this season.

Yul Kwon- Winner of Cook Islands (Season 13)

While I will always be rooting for runner-up Ozzy Lusth, I am all for the underdog to hero story, which winner Yul Kwon had as well. All top four finalists overcame a 4-8 minority by winning immunity challenges. Once at the merge, Yul’s threatening to play an idol swayed the majority in their favor. It helped that they were all so likable and the other side had two players, Candice Woodcock and Adam Gentry, who are most memorable for sucking face with one another and whining nonstop once they lost power. Yes, it’s pretty easy to know who to root for.

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Todd Herzog- Winner of China (Season 15)

Maybe the best Final Tribal Council performance, Todd Herzog owned his moves and appealed to the jury without pandering a la Chrissy in Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. He acknowledged taking out all the strategic threats because they fit the same role as him. Let’s face it, Amanda Kimmel making puppy dog eyes at the jury isn’t exactly a winning strategy to earn $1 million.

Parvati Shallow- Winner of Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites (Season 16)

Since 2008, roughly 75% of Survivor female contestants under the age of 30 have compared themselves to Parvati Shallow. In the last ten years, none of these girls have had the same flirty, yet cutthroat reputation of Parvati. Her “Black Widow Brigade” alliance is only one of two successful all-female alliances in the show’s history. You bet Parvati’s social game and coquettish nature led to the men’s demise. Again, rivaling Amanda Kimmel and her same strategy (when will she ever learn!) did not provide much competition.

Kim Spradlin-Winner of One World (Season 24)

Kim Spradlin’s road to victory was cool, calm, and obvious. Perhaps it was because all her competitors were more incompetent at the game than rice, bamboo, or coconuts would be. Literally their survival food and gear would be better at playing Survivor. Kim’s composed nature and social prowess led every post merge player to believe that they were going to the end with her. Again, none of these jokes could’ve beaten her but wanted to go to Final Tribal Council with her. That is great game play from Goddess Kim Spradlin.

Tyson Apostol- Winner of Blood vs. Water (Season 27)

One of the slyest and wittiest contestants to ever play, Tyson Apostol finally won on his third attempt against former contestants and their loved ones. He managed to take out big threats and alliance members à la Exile Island winner Aras Baskauskas (sorry to not make the list, bro) before they took shots at him. He underplayed his physical strength in individual immunity challenges until it was too late for his fellow competitors to vote him out. Instead, they were forced to draw rocks on a tie vote, and Ciera Eastin voted for own mother!

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Tony Vlachos-Winner of Cagayan (Season 28)

The most aggressive Survivor winner, the New Jersey police officer played hard from Day One. From creating his spy shack to using players at the bottom to blindside his own alliance members, assertive contestants like Tony don’t win. That is, unless they’re Tony. As far as I know, he’s the only player ever that speaks llama. Just kidding, that’s a given.

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Jeremy Collins- Winner of Cambodia: Second Chance (Season 31)

In the most stacked season, all returning players came to claim the $1 million prize for the second time. In a season of voting blocs in which contestants’ alliances interchanged every episode, Boston firefighter Jeremy Collins trusted his core alliance until the end. Not only is there a theme of firefighters winning, but firefighters winning WELL. Being an athletic guy, he kept meat shields around until he wanted Probst to snuff their torches. Jeremy was underhandedly calling the shots but in return, got the credit and the prize.

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Nick Wilson- Winner of David vs. Goliath (Season 37)

The newest winner, Nick Wilson, the Kentucky public defender, did not need a slingshot to play a brilliant game. Though initially mocked by viewers for naming every one of his alliances, the members of “Mason-Dixon,” “Rock Stars,” and “Thoroughbreds,” all felt pretty darn special and never turned on Nick. Most of the boots were his idea (bye John and Dan!) including the masterful minority vote split. Additionally, the “David” built strong social bonds with “Goliaths” Mike White and Angelina Keeley, who lost any chances of winning the game at the merge. Sorry, Angelina, but winning earning rice for the tribe is not enough to win $1 million. Nick connecting his personal story to his game play is how you win and give one of the best final tribal council performances.  

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With Thanksgiving around the corner, here are actors being compared to different Turkey Day foods. Yes, you read that right.

Turkey: The Unlikable Main Character

Everyone talks about the showstopping turkey just as movies and TV shows overly focus on main characters. Let’s be real though: dressing, vegetables, rolls, and desserts all outshine the turkey. Turkey is dry and just as dull as Riverdale’s Archie Andrews, Dawson’s Creek’s Dawson Leery, and any Julia Roberts or Molly Ringwald character. Storylines for them include a teen struggling to have a music career, a teen striving to have a directorial career, breaking up an impending marriage, and two boys fawning over her. Thankfully, we have the likes of Jughead Jones and Duckie Dale to act as the gravy to add some interest.

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KJ Apa as Archie Andrews (L) and Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones (R)

Julia Roberts as Julianne Potter in My Best Friend’s Wedding

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Jon Cryer as Duckie Dale and Molly Ringwald as Andie Walsh in Pretty in Pink

Dressing: The Scene-Stealing Side Character

Without a doubt, dressing is the best side dish on Turkey Day. It’s the go-to food on Thanksgiving and a staple for leftovers. Just as family and friends leave the dining table raving about the savory dressing (not stuffing, don’t get confused), moviegoers left The Devil Wears Prada discussing Emily Blunt’s Emily Charlton more than Anne Hathaway’s drab and sweater-loving main character. The most empathetic, best all-around, and most dressing-like in The Social Network is Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo Saverin. Let’s face it, I am as enthusiastic to discuss Andrew Garfield as often as Eduardo is willing to join a fraternity and wear Hawaiian shirts.

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Emily Blunt as Emily Charlton in The Devil Wears Prada

Other than Goop having several dressing recipes (I checked!) Gwyneth Paltrow herself is “dressing” as Margot Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums. So is toilet paper-loving Emma Stone as Sam Thomson in Birdman. Both dressing and these characters deserve to be celebrated year-round.

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Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums

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Emma Stone as Sam Thomson in Birdman

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Mashed Potatoes: The Old Hollywood Actor

Mashed potatoes are the classic Thanksgiving side dish that doesn’t need all the bells and whistles to make it sing. No sweet potatoes, no bacon, and no cheese. Just potatoes. Similarly, old Hollywood actors, like Grace Kelly, Paul Newman, and James Dean, made it on the silver screen because of sheer talent. It doesn’t hurt that they’re so gorgeous, it seems genetically impossible. It was a simpler time when every movie didn’t get a sequel.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce: The Overrated Actor

Anyone who thinks that homemade cranberry sauce is better than canned cranberry sauce is lying to themselves. Perhaps people think that every dish on Thanksgiving needs to be homemade; therefore, the chunky cranberry sauce with orange zest is made. Stop making it and putting it on the table. Similarly, some actors keep getting jobs despite a lack of talent. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’m not here for “pretty” boys getting hired for their looks and not acting ability à la Chris Hemsworth or Zac Efron. Likewise, I don’t buy Hugh Jackman and Rachel McAdams as fully transformative actors (think Daniel Day-Lewis or Christian Bale). Though, these actors pale in comparison to Mr. Overrated himself, Adam Sandler. Playing the titular siblings in Jack and Jill says it all.

Chris Hemsworth as Kevin Beckman in Ghostbusters

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Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier in The Prestige

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Canned Cranberry Sauce: The Underrated Actor

Give me the tube-shaped-with-can-lines cranberry sauce any day of the week. Despite its deliciousness, canned cranberry sauce still does not get any love on Thanksgiving. Equally, several actors don’t get appreciated for their talent. If Michael Shannon shows up in a film, you know it’s a good movie. He earned a Best Supporting Actor Nomination for only appearing in eight minutes of Revolutionary Road. It takes me longer to decide what new show to start binge-watching! Sticking with the Michaels, Michael B. Jordan singlehandedly saved the last two seasons of Friday Night Lights and should still be receiving praise (five years later) for Fruitvale Station.

Though he’s been an acclaimed actor since his first film, Primal Fear, Edward Norton still doesn’t get the praise that he deserves. He should be in the same conversations as George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio for favorite (and best-looking) actor. Plus, he has a great working relationship with Wes Anderson. Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Isle of Dogs are some of the quirkiest and most entertaining movies of the 21st century.

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Michael Shannon as John Givings Jr. in Revolutionary Road

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Edward Norton as Scout Master Ward in Moonrise Kingdom

Pumpkin Spice Latte: The Up-and-Coming Actor

While you don’t drink a pumpkin spice latte with your Thanksgiving meal, it is a drink only consumed in the fall months, so hear me out. Just as a PSL was an unknown term a few years ago, these actors were undiscovered as well. Before turning eighteen, Saoirse Ronan starred in Atonement, The Winter Bones, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Two of her most recent movies, Brooklyn, and Lady Bird, had the Irish darling playing a 1950s Irish immigrant falling in love with the cutest New Yorker and playing an angsty teen in a coming-of-age movie, respectively. Her Lady Bird costar and current “It” boy, Timothée Chalamet masterfully plays a moody, precocious teen in last year’s Call Me by Your Name and a drug-addicted teen in Beautiful Boy. Considering there’s already three Oscar nominations (and one 2019 prediction) between these two talents, Ronan and Chalamet may give Meryl Streep a run for her money in the most Academy Awards acting nominations.

Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson in Lady Bird

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Since the time of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Barbara Streisand, singers have always acted and won awards for it. With Lady Gaga’s recent turn as Ally in A Star is Born gaining Oscar buzz, it looks like things have not changed that much.

Lady Gaga would have gotten praise from me for this movie alone just for the facts that it’s her first major film role and she’s using her stage name to promote it (I’m looking at you, Rihanna, or should I say Robyn Fenty.)

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Perhaps Gaga succeeds in the role because the character, Ally has the same climactic rise to popstar status. Though, part of Ally’s fame is due to her duetting with washed-up country star Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper). All Gaga needed was a meat dress.

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In recent years, Gaga isn’t the only singer to have success on the silver screen. Janelle Monàe’s first two films, Moonlight and Hidden Figures were nominated for Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards. And if you’re reading this blog, I shouldn’t need to remind you that the former infamously won the top prize as well. Do you know how many total movies of the world’s ten highest-paid actors of 2018 have been nominated for Best Picture? SIX. Janelle Monàe is taking somebody’s roles, but it must be from these guys…

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Hidden Figures (2016)

While there’s been victories in singers successfully transitioning to film, there have been failures as well. Though he’s still acting, and I consider it one of the best movies of the 21st century, Justin Timberlake is the worst part of The Social Network. And does anybody even remember Runner Runner or Trouble with the Curve? Exactly.

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The Social Network (2010)

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Before Timberlake’s movies hit theatres (because Model Behavior was a made-for-TV movie!) and before she broke up with him, Britney Spears gave acting a go, with the surprisingly depressing and Shonda Rimes written, Crossroads. I’ll take Spears over Mariah Carey and her Glitter fiasco any day, but the best of worst popstar movies will always be From Justin to Kelly. Not only did 2002 American Idol producers force winner Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini (I bet you thought you’d never read that name again) to star in a spring break movie together, they also thought it was a good idea for Kelly to wear a skirt only made of men’s ties. Sorry, Selena Gomez and Monte Carlo: your wannabe Mary-Kate and Ashley movie doesn’t even deserve to be ranked.

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From Justin to Kelly (2002)

Monte Carlo (2011)

As for the future, Lady Gaga’s Oscar buzz may push more singers to act. I guarantee that Justin Bieber is already lobbying for How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days remake, because he thinks that’s the role that earned Matthew McConaughey his Oscar. Obviously, he’ll star in McConaughey’s role and push for Margot Robbie to play Kate Hudson’s role. Someone needs to tell him that she acts with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Allison Janney. We don’t need that right now. Let’s stick with Gaga.

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     Break out Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” because the all-time greatest high school reunion film, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, was released this week in theatres in 1997.

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     Since graduating high school, best friends Romy White (Mira Sorvino) and Michele Weinberger (Lisa Kudrow) claim working out in 16-pound heels and being on a gummy bear/jelly bean diet as their only major accomplishments. So, they decide to fake their own success stories as they travel to Tucson for their 10-year-high school reunion.

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     In high school flashbacks, Romy and Michele’s lack of popularity becomes evident. The popular girls stick magnets on Michele’s scoliosis back brace. Romy gets stood up by the hot jock waiting for a dance at the school prom. Do they care? Absolutely not. They share a yearbook photo and rock blond hair with black roots so well “it’s like, not even funny.”

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     The girls emerge at the reunion in black suits as thriving business women (lunch specials and all) claiming to have invented Post-Its. In a time before Facebook, former classmates don’t fall for Romy and Michele’s (lack of) careers, realizing that Post-Its were invented in 1968 and not in the 90s.

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     Even Romy and Michele’s former classmates are entertaining on the big screen. Both in high school and ten years later, Heather Mooney (Janeane Garofalo) chain smokes and speaks sarcastically. The popular/mean girls, led by Christie Masters (Julia Campbell) all show up pregnant and in pastels at the reunion. Watching this movie for the first time 15+ years ago, I didn’t think anything of 28-year-olds being pregnant with their second or third child, but now, all I can say is “What’s your rush, Christie?!?”

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     Romy’s crush, Billy Christianson (Vincent Ventresca) is married to Christie, but he still hits on Romy. How many ways can you say “tool”? In addition to making millions since high school, Sandy Frink (Alan Cumming) has a crush on Michele. Luckily, he only gets facial plastic surgery in Michele’s dream, and not in real life. He later joins Romy and Michele for an interpretive dance to “Time After Time,” which remains one of the best musical moments in movie history. They own the floor (and Sorvino’s ballet experience is evident). Also, shout outs to Vassar graduate Kudrow and Harvard graduate Sorvino for playing ditzy blondes so well.  

     Romy and Michele are the perfect pair. They’re like peanut butter and jelly or Mary and Rhoda—even if they can’t agree who is who. The most important thing is that the over-the-top pair remain lifelong friends and always fold scarves together.

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