I don't think I will ever outgrow my penchant for teen love comedies, especially those based (sometimes ever-so-loosely) on Shakespeare's works and I'm not exactly sure why. It might be because they represent a time in our lives that we all still recall fondly for the most part - on the cusp of adulthood, yet still innocent in spite of the bravado, piss and vinegar we threw at the rest of the world. Or because getting good grades and the possibility of landing a date with that dreamboy/girl was what fueled most of our waking thoughts. There's a strange comfort in revisiting a time that felt so angst-ridden and full of high drama! at the time, when we look back with the 'wisdom' of adults and recognize just how earth-shattering things actually weren't. Compared to paying rent, taxes, raising children, and (shudder!) doing your own laundry, they seem pretty carefree, actually. As I recall, anyway.
The female stars of this particular genre also interest me as an aunt to 4 young nieces, as they could potentially influence them in the coming years. (Thanks again, Hollywood) So love 'em or hate 'em, here are the teen queens (in order of relevance):
5) Jessica Simpson - left behind wholesome Christian upbringing to conform to Hollywood ideal, over-controlling manager/dad, failed marriage at the tender age of 25, and more renowned for her cleavage and (put-on?) ditziness than actual talent - tied with Lindsay Lohan for tabloid- fodder potential (oh yeah, take notes, girls!)
4) Keira Knightley - seems fairly grounded all things considered and demonstrated some impressive acting chops in 'Pride & Prejudice', though she swears like a sailor and in spite of denying allegations of an eating disorder, needs to eat a freakin' burger, already!
3) Lindsay Lohan - charismatic redhead with box-office credibility and actual range, yet appears to be sadly pissing away all of her considerable potential on Cristal and excessive partying. (See, Whitney Houston)
2) Hilary Duff - cute girl with a popular TV show, followed by some tween-friendly movies and albums who actually resembled a 'real girl' (complete with invisible braces) until she too joined the Lollipop Head Brigade (when they're so skinny, their heads look like lollipops on a stick because unfortunately, YOU CAN'T LOSE WEIGHT IN YOUR HEAD). Having an older rock star boyfriend with groupies in tow probably adds incentive, too. She's definitely the lesser of evils, though.
1) Amanda Bynes - my favourite because she looks like a girl you could have actually gone to school with; exquisite comic timing and she's smart without being bratty - the Jennifer Aniston of her time. And I'd let her babysit.
Honourable Mention: Alexis Bledel from 'Gilmore Girls' and Amber Tamblyn from 'Joan of Arcadia'