When you think about Never Been Kissed, you likely remember it as that adorable romantic comedy from the ‘90s that starred the lovable and charming Drew Barrymore. And what’s not to like about all of that? Well, Never Been Kissed is actually a really dark and twisted film. On the surface, it’s about newspaper reporter Josie Geller, played by Barrymore, who goes undercover at a local high school in hopes to get a scoop for a story. It turns out that Josie is actually harboring severe emotional trauma from her own high school experience. On top of the emotionally stunted protagonist, the film also features some deeply inappropriate relationships. Not only does Josie’s teacher shamelessly flirt with her even though he’s under the impression that she’s his high school student, but Josie also goes to the prom with a teenage boy.
See? Never Been Kissed is so much more twisted than anyone realized back in 1999. Of course, it’s not the only romantic comedy that is much less charming and much more disturbing when you think about. For example, 50 First Dates (another Barrymore starring role) features a man taking advantage of a disabled woman. Um, romantic comedies are dark. In fact, it’s likely a majority of the couple in romantic comedies would break up a whole three seconds after the credits started rolling.
Never Been Kissed may be one of the best teen movies of all time, but it also features some incredible stunted individuals engaging in some inappropriate relationships. Don't be fooled by Barrymore's warm smile; her character is twisted.
Josie and Mr. Coulson had great chemistry. That much is true. The problem is that Mr. Coulson was, well, Mr. Coulson. He was Josie’s teacher. And yes, Josie is actually a 25-year-old woman posing as a high school student, so she's technically only enough to date him. In reality, Josie and Mr. Coulson were probably around the same age, with the same interests, and would make a great couple. But as it stands, Mr. Coulson thought Josie was a high student and he was still pretty down to flirt with her. What’s worse is that the narrative of the film makes the audience root for this relationship between a seeming high school student and her teacher.
Mr. Coulson, if you’re having weird sexual chemistry with someone you believe to be a teenage high school student, you do not — DO NOT – get on a teeny, tiny Ferris wheel with said student. There was barely enough room for Mr. Coulson and Josie to not be sitting thigh-to-thigh. It was a Ferris wheel made for romance, not for a teacher-student conversation.
To make matters worse, Mr. Coulson starts confiding in Josie — again, someone he thinks is his high school student — about his relationship problems with his girlfriend. Then, he basically tells Josie that if she were his age, he'd totally do her. Does this scene make the whole audience melt into a puddle of love and romance and chemistry? Supposedly yes, but it’s also a scene that should have never, under no circumstances, happen in real life.
As if Mr. Coulson and Josie’s flirting over Shakespeare wasn’t weird enough, Josie begins dating the most popular guy in school. To Josie's credit, the relationship seems more opportunistic than romantic and it never becomes physical, but it’s still weird that a 25-year-old woman went to prom with a teenage boy. Not only that, Josie was super excited about going to prom with Guy, like much more excited than a normal 25-year-old woman should have been in this situation. Then again, the story itself proves that Josie was definitely not a normal 25-year-old woman.
The chemistry between Mr. Coulson and Josie is undeniable. Thus, all the other high school students can totally see that they want to rip each other’s clothes off and do some Shakespeare role play. You’d think that the students would be concerned about the vulnerable new girl falling prey to her incredible hot teacher. Instead, the other students simply mock Mr. Coulson and Josie like they would any other high school relationship. Why aren't they concerned? Does this kind of stuff happen all the time at this weird high school that seemingly lets 20-somethings have high school do-overs whenever they want?