The enduring wisdom of 'Drop Dead Gorgeous'
The first time I saw Drop Dead Gorgeous, I was 13 and riding high on the publicity it got in Seventeen and YM magazines. (So: a lot.) But at 13, I wasn’t super aware of the meaning of “dark comedy” (or a lot of things), and after pressing play on my TV/VHS player combo, I was horrified to realize this wasn’t a rom-com — it was a very, very funny (and adult!) movie. Hell no.
To me, Drop Dead Gorgeous couldn’t be a true comedy because characters died. (Oops spoiler!) It couldn’t be heartwarming because there wasn’t a boy to win in the end. It was “too grown up” because it made jokes about . . . well, everything. It literally made jokes about all things, forever. And I hadn’t tapped into joking about “inappropriate” topics because I was still young and hadn’t begun to cope with real life through humor the way I do now.
But then I re-watched it. And as a moody, cynical, and comedy-obsessed (older) teen, I found a beacon of light in a movie I’d once deemed so dark. (How’s THIS for a dramatic introduction?) So from there, I fell in love. And here are five things I learned from the ultimate movie set in Saint Rose.
1. The Minnesotan accent is an accent of beauty
And I say this as a Canadian person who’s been told Canadians sound like Minnesotans. First, I wish. Second, it depends. As a resident of Southern Ontario, I’m one hour away from upstate New York, so I sound like an American person. (At least according to Erin Mallory Long, who I hung out with last week and confirmed what I’d worked so hard to achieve: I do not say “aboot.”)
But many do. (Like our friend Nick.) And despite it, we still don’t sound Minnesotan. And I wish we do, because Minnesotans sound amazing. And I know this because after seeing this movie, I tried to imitate Kirsten Dunst’s accent on a regular basis, but only came out sounding like the Mom from Bobby’s World.
2. Pageants are not for the lazy
I have never been a pageant person, and I have never wanted to be a pageant person. And there’s nothing wrong with pageants, but no thank you. I don’t like being judged, and I don’t like having to smile, and I don’t like having to have a talent that isn’t “talk about pop culture a lot to a room full of people.” Thus, pageants are a ton of work.
Arguably, they are too much work. You have to walk a certain way, talk a certain way, smile, make costumes, do things that require skill, and not sit at a computer and write about Drop Dead Gorgeous. True, I went into Drop Dead Gorgeous with no desire to be in pageants, but I left Drop Dead Gorgeous convinced I would be whichever character ranked the lowest.
You guys want to know how I know this for sure? Every contest I have ever entered, I have dropped out in the second round because I wanted to go sit with my friends. I’d be the pageant contestant who sat on the stairs and missed her cue, scrolling through Instagram.
3. Ellen Barkin and Allison Janney’s friendship are literal #squad #goals
All I want is to be surrounded by friends like Allison Janney, who will take care of my kid (I don’t have a kid, but if I did) if my home blows up (because someone was trying to kill my kid), and cuts my hair for me. Is this storyline dark? Of course! But Allison Janney STEPS UP and reminds Kirsten Dunst to keep going and not to cave to the pressures of Denise Richards and Kirstie Alley who are actively trying to kill her. And if THAT’S not the mark of true-blue friendship, I don’t even want to know what is.
Basically, I just want to be Allison Janney’s friend. I think that’s what I’m really saying here.
4. NEVER. GIVE. UP.
Now, am I saying I would personally never give up? Like, if Denise Richards and Kirstie Alley were trying to kill me so Denise Richards could win the pageant I was in? Absolutely not. I would for sure give up. I just would. I am a fighter in a lot of ways, but if my home blew up with my mother inside of it, I would probably bow out of the contest because I am just not interested in being the target of two deranged humans. Kirstie Alley and Denise Richard’s characters? Deranged. So let us all bow our heads and raise our hands — Emoji-style — in the air to the work ethic of Kirsten Dunst who just kept going (with the help of her competitors) despite the INSANITY ensuing around her. “Just do it” has nothing on the tap-dancing Dunst.
5. Teamwork prevails, always
Look. I know that pageants are a solo activity (technically), but where would Kirsten Dunst have been without her pageant-mates? Nowhere. (Literally.) Had she not switched spots with one, she would’ve been hit in the head with a light. Had Brittany Murphy not given Kirsten her costume, Kirsten wouldn’t have been able to compete at all.
Also: moral support. The only person who didn’t have any was Denise Richards — the rest were all pals, dancing to Gloria Estefan, and using stools as part of their choreography. Teams and friends and squads prevail, always.
Although my favorite line from the movie is, was, and always will be Denise Richards saying, “I mean, I won. I’m the winner.” (My personal motto whenever I realize chips are on sale at the grocery store.)