A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal walk into a school library….
Within the first 60 seconds of The Breakfast Club, John Hughes managed to successfully introduce the five high school archetypes he would spend the next hour and a half dismantling, or at least redefining. Upon its release 30 years ago, it would have been easy to dismiss it as just another teen comedy about stock adolescent problems, i.e. does he like me, or does he like me like me? And while that exact question may have been a central plot point in Hughes' Sixteen Candles, which hit theaters less than a year before TBC, the late, great, Chicago-loving auteur decided to use this follow-up to turn the genre on its head.
Set more like a stage play — "It's like 12 Angry Men," Gossip Girl co-creator Stephanie Savage exclaims — the film sees a quintet of high schoolers who, for various reasons, are forced to spend a Saturday morning detention in each other's company. Instead, they end up dancing on tabletops, holding an impromptu group therapy session and altering the social hierarchy of Shermer High — Bender the burnout (Judd Nelson) gets Claire the prom queen (Molly Ringwald), school weirdo Allison (Ally Sheedy) hooks up with head jock Andrew (Emilio Estevez), and the lovable academic overachiever Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) realizes that he's not so different after all. (Should you need a refresher, a new Blu-Ray edition of the film hits shelves on March 10th; it's also getting a two-nights-only theatrical re-release on March 26th and 31st.)
Whether or not these newfound friendships, romances, and bromances lasted through Monday's homeroom is unknown. But what is for certain is that virtually every creator and consumer of adolescent-focused entertainment in the three decades since the film's debut owes a huge debt of gratitude to Hughes for turning teenagers into young adults. Just ask Y.A. novelist phenomenon — and one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2014 — John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska); Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult); actor-comedian Paul Scheer (The League); and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who have collectively produced and/or created some of the most popular teen series of the past decade (The O.C., Gossip Girl). They aren't exactly the Breakfast Club redux — more like two brains, two basket cases and a princess — but each one of them spoke with us about the movie's enduring impact.