Victorious, The Breakfast Club & Being Critical

By Christina Dinh

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of Victorious clips recommended to me. They’ve brought me a wave of nostalgia, but hadn’t pushed me to actually revisit the show until I saw a clip from the 2012 episode The Breakfast Bunch – an homage to the movie, The Breakfast Club. I used to be a huge fan of both Victorious and The Breakfast Club. I decided, why not rewatch it? I expected to feel nostalgic and have a few laughs, not to craft an entire analysis on the importance of being critical of the media we consume.

I remembered that when watching The Breakfast Bunch as a kid, I was very confused. However, after watching the original movie, it’s incredibly funny seeing how they’ve rewritten the source material. Notably, the replacement of the line, “When you get old, your heart dies,” with the line, “When you get old, your butt sags.” Nickelodeon’s target audience is children, so the writers had to find creative alternatives to mirror certain less-than-PG scenes and topics. Examples include the replacements of smoking weed with eating tacos, the topic of virginity with veganism, and a certain swear word with “forget you”. The story itself is not cohesive in the slightest and at times extremely weird. Although my taste in TV shows have changed since I was 8, I still found myself chuckling at some of their jokes. What I didn’t see coming, was genuinely questioning if the episode was better than the original film. In comparison, I found rewatching The Breakfast Club fairly boring. At least the episode made me laugh. Victorious also has two people of colour, which beats The Breakfast Club’s whopping total of zero, and lacks the blatant homophobia and misogyny seen in the film. 

Oftentimes, when discussing the wrongdoings of films, many will say, “Why don’t you just let people enjoy things.” Especially in the case of older movies, people will defend them by saying they’re a product of their time. My argument is that you can still enjoy media without giving up your critical thinking skills. The writer and director, John Hughes’s creations are not only problematic now, but were also problematic then. In an essay published by The New Yorker, written by Molly Ringwald, she writes about how inappropriate the film was towards their female characters as well as how her own mother had to push for certain scenes to be cut. A main character, Bender, constantly sexually harasses his love interest, Claire, and is an overall jerk, but in the end is still rewarded for his behaviour by getting the girl. Characters also casually throw around homophobic slurs. Keep in mind, there were gay people who existed in the 80s, as well as people who were anti-homophobia. It used to be more common for people to use these slurs, but it was never something that was acceptable, merely tolerated. 

That same sentiment of being able to enjoy things while being critical should also be applied to contemporary art and media. A movie I appreciate is Booksmart, a film that has female characters with depth as well as great WLW representation. However, it’s lacking in the department of racial diversity. Picasso was a brilliant artist, but we have to acknowledge that he was a raging misogynist who mistreated his muses. Harry Potter is a book series that is near and dear to the hearts of many, yet the continuous racist and transphobic acts of JK Rowling cannot be ignored. Nothing is morally perfect, especially the media we consume, therefore, being able to appreciate something and being analytical of it at the same time are two mindsets that need to coexist. If we cannot begin to be critical of the world around us, we cannot begin to move forward and to better ourselves. 

The Breakfast Club will always hold a special place in my heart as well as the hearts of many others, though not despite its wrongdoings. Additionally, I do recommend watching an episode of Victorious for those who haven’t seen it in a while and have some time to spare. Remember to stay critical of the world, particularly of the media you consume.