More than 30 years ago when The Breakfast Club released, it became the gold standard for depicting the teen experience. Writer and director John Hughes gathered a motley cast of characters in school library for a full-day detention where they learn no only to co-exist but to see each other for more than what was obvious on the surface. As the princess, the brain, the jock, the basket case, and the criminal, these five students found much more in common than they had expected—and viewers found the same to the true: no matter our age, we all wrongly make snap judgments about others. This film is firmly embedded in pop culture lexicon, having been quoted over the years in shows and films like Dawson’s Creek, Scrubs, Pitch Perfect, Family Guy, and Psych. And there are plenty of memes and GIFs that keep its sassy banter alive and well.
In this episode of Persuasion, Erin Straza and Hannah Anderson pack the Persuasion house with two guests to discuss The Breakfast Club: Wade Bearden and Kevin McLenithan, who host the Christ and Pop Culture film podcast Seeing and Believing. Only Erin had seen The Breakfast Club before, so this was a Never Seen for Hannah, Wade, and Kevin. After watching this iconic film for the first time, the trio gives their gut reactions as Erin explains why this film became such a definitive part of her high school and college experience. The film is full of tension, between the five students as well as between the students and the principal. Set mostly in the school’s library, you get the sense that the students cannot escape each other, nor can they escape their own insecurities and self-loathing. Through it all, the wonder and complexity of the human experience is presented and fully acknowledged for us all—no mater our age or social clique. Discussion covers the teen experience, problematic aspects of the film, and the way parenting has changed since 1985. How does the film’s conclusion (and each character’s transformation) reflect the era in which it was set? What does this film teach us about the power of words upon others? Did the uninvolved parenting of the 80s lead to the helicopter parenting we see today? Listen in for dialogue on issues like these, and continue the conversation on Twitter @PersuasionCAPC or in the CAPC members-only community on Facebook.
Persuasion 168 Resources & Links
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Emotional Legacy of The Breakfast Club, The Atlantic
What About “The Breakfast Club”? by Molly Ringwald, The New Yorker
Did you enjoy this episode of Persuasion? Give these a listen:
Theme music by Maiden Name.