Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Sweet Was The Valley

Alright, girls, show of hands: how many of you were fans of the Sweet Valley High series?

Oh, c'mon. No one's looking. You can admit it. Just pretend you need a stretch.

I read this morning that screenwriter Diablo Cody (of Juno fame and Jennifer's Body in-fame) is going to pen a script for a cinematic re-invention of the popular 80s series of books. It's the best news I've gotten since my bloodwork for gout came back negative.

When I was in middle school, I devoured the books in the Sweet Valley series. My friend across the street spent nearly every dime of her babysitting money buying the first 20 or so books in the series, and when I got birthday money or allowance money I usually spent it on a new volume that she did not have. We shared with each other (the library never had the copies in that we wanted) and discussed the exploits of Elizabeth and Jessica on a daily basis for well over a year. In the summer, we could each take down one book a day. The books were like junk food: they weren't especially good for us, but they were yummy and didn't require a lot of thought.

For some reason, I didn't like my mother knowing that I was reading and spending money on these books. It's not like they were dirty or anything; the most action you ever got was some guy trying to get to second base with one of the twins but them putting a stop to it with a subtle move that made virginity seem pretty cool. And after all, I had already read the Flowers in the Attic books at my mother's approval and any damage that was going to happen to me from reading racy and age-inappropriate sex scenes had already been incurred. But I knew as I was reading this series that it was not good literature and that the values preached in the books were pretty darn shallow and not really worthy of the time of someone who also had read To Kill a Mockingbird and most of Judy Blume's repertoire. I was kinda embarrassed to be seen with these at home.

By high school, I didn't want to read about blonde, California high-school twins any more. I had moved on to Stephen King novels and short stories, which I still enjoy to this day, but which gave me considerably more nightmares than the teen pulp fiction I abandoned. Though I really think that Carrie is just a Sweet Valley High book on coke. There's nothing more scary than a bunch of cruel teenage girls.

So the news that a hip, snarky, pop-culture-lovin' screenwriter of my generation is going to write the Sweet Valley High screenplay just makes my day. Now if someone like that could resurrect Flowers in the Attic (that one movie they made with Kristy Swanson does not count).

Any Sweet Valley fans out there? Were you an Elizabeth or a Jessica? (I was so totally an Elizabeth.)


corycaleb said...

I read those books like candy in my own junior high days - and was definitely an Elizabeth (and very happy that she ended up with Todd instead of Jeffrey!)

Karen said...

I didn't really read you count the ones that Katie left in the bathroom and I picked them up and wandered into the bedroom with them and finished them in the next hour. ;) I was definitely Elizabeth too.

DRoss said...

I don't remember Sweet Valley. Probably because my Dad nixed them - it wouldn't have been because I found them too banal. But the Flowers in the Attic series got passed around among about seven of us in 10th grade. I didn't finish them because they got confiscated by the fuzz. We had a 40-something old-maid Christian-school math teacher who was the stuff of legend. Take all the stereotype associated with a evangelical Baptist 40-something old-maid who fancied herself "on fire for God" and add a dose of salts.
I would love to see the Flowers movie. And you're so right that the Kristy Swanson version doesn't count.