Reality Bites: a short treatise on the Movie

Reality really does bite. We live in a society bent on destroying itself, a place where nothing is what it seems to really need to be, by design. You can't win, no one tells you can win, you're never expected to win. You still think you can win. "Reality Bites" isn't such a bad way to spend two hours of a pointless life, wouldn't you say?

That seems to be what the movie is trying to say. Not the most uplifting film I've ever seen, almost depressing if you ask me. But why would you ask me? I'm the student here, and I just need to come up with three pages on "Reality Bites". Based on the spirit of the film, I'll bet even it would tell you that it doesn't deserve three pages of my time. I'll probably develop carpal tunnel syndrome and die.

Let's move right along then, shall we? The first subject on the docket is drug use. I'll assume alcohol and tobacco are lumped in there. Based on what the movie showed me and what I've seen otherwise, either you do it or you don't. Sure, there's peer pressure involved, and different things will always happen to you based on what choices you make, but when you come right down to it, it's not such a BFD. Kids view adult warnings as hypocritical crap that gets spewn on them constantly. For the most part, they'd be cool if adults would just leave them alone.

School - if graduation is the first time you're expected to go out on your own, you're lucky. Most kids grow up before they move out. Of course they're not ready, I don't think anybody's ready. But insults aren't going to help anyone make the transition. Read "Are you ready to make the transition? If so, what makes you think you are ready?" This implies that no one can actually be ready. While possibly true, the role of adults in this arena is to prepare the new generation. Where does your trust break down, in your generation or in ours?

Work is supposed to be a neccessary evil. I don't think the first working experience for our characters in "Reality Bites" was when we saw them in the movie. Many people my age work 11-12 hour days, five days of 7.5 hours school and 20 hours a week at a job. That's before you figure in homework and extracurriculars. Or sleep. If anything, it seems like entering the workforce full time would be a break. In the movie, the characters always had free time on their hands. Looks nice to me.

I've decided to skip relationships, but I'll let you know why. For goodness sake, a library of books have been written on this subject. The intricacies, the complexities, the stupidities of relationships cannot be fully understood, IMHO. It's hard enough to figure out what's going on in my own head.

Parents want to influence children. That is their purpose, to mold, to shape, to form. And influence they do, but never in quite the way they intended, it seems. At best, it seems that to parents their children are dolls they can play with, dressing up and training like circus animals. At worst they are the household's workforce, or an outlet for their stress however it manifests itself. No matter how good a parent, it seems that all extremes are visited in one form or another. The subject of parents, however, is really a subset of the subject of relationships.

The theme of this essay is stress. There is a lot of stress going around, and it's high time to take a little break. Stress comes from things that are expected of us, especially things above and beyond what we can be reasonably expected to accomplish. Stress comes from fear. Fear of failure, fear of illness or death, fear of rejection, fear of one's self. Stress comes primarily from school for people in my age group. Drugs add stress to life. So do work, relationships, and parents. Heck, you can get stressed over being stressed in a world that tells you not to be so stressed. Stress in large doses is not healthy.

Specific examples? How about being awake for 21 hours of the day several times a week to keep your high school grades from diving, then sleeping through the weekends to repeat the process again next week? Perhaps seeing everyone around you use drugs and alcohol for [fun[. The examples in "Reality Bites" were ridiculous. The main character induces her own stress by deliberately losing her job. At least she got a laugh. The guys that wrote the script for "Reality Bites" were probably under some stress, trying to create a movie that was half serious drama and half comedy.

The romantic plot was reasonable when it wasn't trying to be funny. The confusion of her emotions caused the stress in the main character. Sex still sells, though, so she had to through herself from bed to bed as is typical of hollywood. Or is that reality now? Which comes first, the movie or the news at eleven? The world in general causes some stress.

The characters in "Reality Bites" handle stress by drinking, smoking, and having sex. They also yell at one another, often utilizing profanity. In retrospect, it's funny to see how "Reality Bites" the actual movie became a manifestation of genre parodied by "Reality Bites," the strange sitcom in the movie.

Stress can be handled by sleeping and warm fires. Structured relaxation and meditation techniques are not all they're cracked up to be. If you have to worry about relaxing properly, you are probably beyond stressed. Of course that's just me. For some obsessive-compulsive people, it might be the only way to go. Everybodies different, of that I am reasonably sure. Now I will practice my stress handling techniques.

homework I have done

The only thing you have to be by the age of 23 is yourself.”

A 1994 movie directed by Ben Stiller, tagged “A comedy about love in the 90’s,” Reality Bites embodies the Gen X culture of the 90’s that still lingers on today. Lelaine Pierce, known to her friend’s as Laney (Winona Ryder), has just graduated at the top of her university class with a degree in film. Her roommate Vicky is a manager at the Gap, their friend Sammy is about to come out to his mother, and their other friend Troy is the epitome of slack.

Laney works as an assistant to Grant (John Mahoney), a morning talk show host and in her spare time is working on a documentary about her friends. Fed up with the treatment she receives from Grant, Laney doctors the interview cards she prepped for him, knowing that he does not look at them before he goes on the air.

Needless to say, Laney finds herself out of a job.

Going from interview to interview, Laney finds herself either overly qualified, underqualified, or being asked to make illegal copies of video tapes.

#1 lesson learned from this movie- be able to define “irony” in the event I am ever asked in a job interview to do so.

Although the sexual tension between Laney and Troy (Ethan Hawke) runs high, Laney beings a relationship with Michael, a flashy executive for an MTV-like cable station. The two meet when Laney tosses her cigarette butt accidentally into his convertible and he smashes into her.

While Michael is away on a business trip, Laney’s situation spirals further out of control. Strapped for cash and owing a huge phone bill thanks to her psychic friend, she utilizes the gas card her father gave her for graduation. To make money she has people give her cash for the gas they need and then she charges the gas to her father’s account.

When things are at their darkest, Michael calls on his cell phone (while standing in a phone booth) to let Laney know his network is interested in her document and that he loves her.

Unfortunately Michael sells her out and turns her documentary into a mockery of her real intentions.

Finally, when the tension between her and Troy can build no more, the two end up in bed together. While the morning after and the days following are awkward for the two, they eventually smooth things out.

The film ends with a Real World-like show based on Laney and her friends turning up on Michael’s network.

Reality Bites was written by Helen Childress and Danny DeVito was a producer.

There are a lot of things that make this movie appealing. The film captures not only the feeling of being just out of college and completely clueless about your future, but also the time in which the movie was made. I appreciate the movie far more now than I did when I was 14.

The comedy of the film and clever lines Troy spews out are balanced by the reality of Vickie getting tested for HIV and Sammy coming clean to his mother about his sexual orientation. It reminds me of some of the sentiments in Douglas Coupland’s Generation X

Cast Includes:


  1. My Sharona” by The Knack
  2. Spin the Bottle” by Juliana Hatfield Three
  3. Bed of Roses” by The Indian Bianca
  4. When You Come Back to Me” by World Party Wallinger
  5. Going, Going, Gone” by The Posies
  6. Stay” by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
  7. All I Want Is You” by U2
  8. Locked Out” by Crowded House
  9. Spinning Around Over” by Lenny Kravitz
  10. I’m Nuthin” by Ethan Hawke
  11. Turnip Farm” by Dinosaur Jr.
  12. Revival” by Me Phi Me
  13. Tempted” by Squeeze
  14. Baby I Love Your Way” by Big Mountain Frampton

quote and cast information from, soundtrack listing from

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