“Do Revenge” could be the chick-flick that defines Gen Z

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Liliana Katz-Hollander, Arts Writer

Many of Netflix’s recent original teen movies, such as “Tall Girl,” “The Kissing Booth” and “He’s All That” have been criticized and denounced as trashy or cliched. However, the new Netflix original, “Do Revenge”, starring Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke, might be the movie that has succeeded where the others have failed, and be the movie that defines Gen Z. 

In every decade, there is at least one movie that is looked upon as the teen movie–one that represents the style, music, culture, and views of that generation. And more often than not, they’re “chick flicks.” This ranges from “Sixteen Candles” in the ‘80s, to “Clueless” in the 90s, to “Mean Girls” in the 2000s. 

“Do Revenge” is a new spin on this type of movie. Although it takes place in a California high school, as all the classics do, and centers on teenage relationships and drama, the plot itself is very unique. Drea, played by Camila Mendes, is an ambitious high school senior from a poor background, who has secured not just a spot in one of the most elite private high schools in the county, but also connections, opportunities, and privileges, finds her life upturned when her boyfriend humiliates her in front of the entire school. She ends up teaming up with Eleanor, played by Maya Hawke, who is haunted by a rumor from her past, to get revenge on those who have wronged them–by doing the other’s revenge. 

The cast of this movie is one of the first indicators that it would be a hit with Gen Z. The two lead roles, Drea Torres and Eleanor Levetan, are played by Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke, respectively. Camila Mendes has appeared in Netflix original movies before, but she is best known for her lead role as Veronica Lodge in “Riverdale,” the original Netflix series which is one of the most streamed in the world. Maya Hawke has also primarily acted in Netflix original movies in the past, but Hawke, the daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, achieved fame in her role as Robin in “Stranger Things”, the second most viewed Netflix show in the world. In short, Mendes and Hawke alone are enough to draw millions of viewers. However, the supporting cast also includes stars like Sophie Turner, famous actress, Paris Berelc, who played Alexa in the hit Netflix series “Alexa and Katie”, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, known for her role as Buffy in “Buffy and the Vampire Slayer” and Daphne in “Scooby Doo.” 

Including Gellar, who was one of the most recognizable actresses of the early 2000s, is one of many homages, both subtle and overt, that “Do Revenge” pays to the teenage classics of that era. At times the characters even come close to breaking the fourth wall. When Eleanor is offered a tour of the school by her future love interest, Gabbi Broussard, played by Talia Ryder, she says “as a disciple of the 90s teen movie, I would be offended if I didn’t get one.” There are also more specific instances. In a direct reference to the iconic 2004 “Mean Girls”, Tara, a new take on the classic mean girl, played by Alisha Boe, asks Eleanor “why don’t I know you?”, paralleling the first interaction between Regina George and Cady Heron. There are many other moments that other “disciples of the 90s teen movie” would recognize as references to movies ranging from “The Princess Diaries” to “10 Things I Hate About You”, and more. “Do Revenge” even includes a cover of “Kids in America,” covered by rising pop singer Maude Latour, but originally written by Kim Wilde in 1981. “Kids in America” was covered by The Muffs in 1995 and used as the opening song in “Clueless”. 

The soundtrack of “Do Revenge” is another piece of the film’s accurate teen representation. It is a mix of newer hits, older songs, and more obscure pieces. Among its more notable inclusions are Oliva Rodrigo’s smash hit “Brutal,” as well as an orchestrated version of “How Bizarre,” a song from 1996 by OMC that went viral on Tik-Tok in 2021. The soundtrack also features several prominent queer artists, such as Phoebe Bridgers, MUNA, and Hayley Kiyoko.

And although “Do Revenge”’s pop culture references, fashion, and music are noteworthy, what really makes it stand out as a movie is its social themes. It focuses on classism, homophobia, misogyny, and more. For example, Eleanor is queer, and although her relationships and identity are part of the plot, it is not a conflict, which is something that is not done often enough in current movies. Furthermore, Drea is taken advantage of by her boyfriend and treated as an outcast by her friends. LGBTQ-focused trauma and victim-shaming are major themes in this movie, but it still allows room for teenage ambition and queer joy.