Pop culture

Proms in pop culture, from bloody to beautiful

May 15, 2014 at 7:06 AM ET

What about prom, Blane? WHAT ABOUT PROM? The high-school tradition has been enshrined in so many movies and television shows by now that our celluloid prom memories are almost sharper than our real ones. It's that time of year, so if you bump into formally clad teens fumbling with corsages or perplexed by how much to tip, cut them some slack. They've got a lot of pop-culture prom imagery to live up to.

Worst prom dress: 'Pretty in Pink'
It may be the most famed prom in moviedom — and the ugliest dress. Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is established early on in "Pretty in Pink" as a smart girl who marches to her own drummer. But as much as we want to like the gown she made herself, shoulderless sleeves just never caught on. Dress aside, Andie sailed into the prom with quirky pal Duckie (Jon Cryer), but of course found a happy ending with baby-faced Blane (Andrew McCarthy). Some of us still wish she'd stuck with the Duck.

IMAGE: Pretty in Pink
Paramount/Everett Collection
Duckie (Jon Cryer) escorted Andie (Molly Ringwald) to prom, but once there, she sailed off with Blane (Andrew McCarthy, not shown).

Longest wait for a prom: 'Footloose'
Here's the best trivia about "Footloose": It's true. Or at least based on a true story, about the small town of Elmore City, Oklahoma, dubbed the "buckle of the Bible Belt," which finally held a prom in 1980 after a civic battle royale. Sure, maybe an out-of-town stud like Ren (Kevin Bacon) didn't drive things in Elmore City, but he made for a more entertaining movie when he set a fictional town's toes tapping in the 1984 movie. Kenny Wormald (he'll play Dennis Wilson in an upcoming Beach Boys biopic) played Bacon's role in the 2011 remake.

IMAGE: Footloose
Paramount/Everett Collection
Lori Singer and Kevin Bacon whoop it up in a town where dancing was once illegal in "Footloose."

Sweetest prom gesture: 'Friends'
In the classic "Friends" episode, "The One With the Prom Video," viewers meet a pre-nose job Rachel and pre-weight loss Monica preparing to head out to the prom, with Monica's permed brother Ross hanging out in the wings. When it appears that Rachel's date has bailed on her, Ross, encouraged by his parents, gets all spiffed up to step in — but it's too late. The date shows up after all, the prom couples sail out without noticing Ross, and the many years-long clock on Ross-and-Rachel frustration takes its first tick.

IMAGE: Friends
NBC
Ross (David Schwimmer) tried to take Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) to prom, but she and Monica (Courteney Cox) left with their dates before he could offer.

Most immortal prom: 'Twilight'
The Cullen kids of "Twilight" are vampires, see, and they've been to so many high schools that they've made a piece of wall art with their many graduation caps. (Don't think too long about the logistics of this, trust us.) But we're assuming Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) was the only one to ever go to prom with a non-immortal girlfriend, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). Bella limped a little and could only wear one high heel, thanks to an injury from a vampire fight, but to the zillions of fans of Stephenie Meyer's series, it was still the most romantic night ever.

IMAGE: Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke and Kristen Stewart
Summit Entertainment
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) went to prom with a vampire (Robert Pattinson) in "Twilight." Dad Charlie (Billy Burke) looks unsure.

Bloodiest prom: 'Carrie'
The weirdest thing was that outcast Carrie (Sissy Spacek) was so beautiful in the few seconds after she was named prom queen, but before the bucket of pig's blood came crashing down on her head. Raised by a crazy mother who hadn't even explained menstruation to her, Carrie was a friendless outcast, but for just a minute at the prom she was allowed to see what it would be like had she lived a different life. Her flash from beautiful blonde queen to disgraced and humiliated reject — not to mention that bucket of blood — makes "Carrie" the most disturbing prom movie ever.

IMAGE: Sissy Spacek in Carrie (1976)
United Artists
Bloody good prom, then, Carrie?

Best prom speech: 'Mean Girls'
Technically the dance in "Mean Girls" was called a Spring Fling, not a prom, but come on, who crowns a king and queen of Spring Fling? When Lindsay Lohan's Cady, the new girl who's been both chumming with and rebelling against The Plastics, is announced queen, she grabs that opportunity to draw the school together. She makes a short speech apologizing to those who've been hurt by the mean girls, and then snaps her plastic tiara into a dozen or so pieces and hands them out, saying everyone should share the honor. Aw, Lindsay, we still miss the "Mean Girls"-era you.

IMAGE: Mean Girls
©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Col
Lindsay Lohan's "Mean Girls" speech at the Spring Fling dance was heartening.

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