In Kirsten Dunst’s new series, On Becoming A God In Central Florida, Kiki plays Krystal Stubbs, a single mother left with nothing to her name but an enormous number of FAM products after her pyramid scheme-believing husband is killed in a car accident. Unlike her husband, Krystal is a realist, a cunning businesswoman, and at times, a cutthroat queen who does what she has to do to get by, for both her and her daughter Destiny.
As I watched the series, the decades of love I have had for Kirsten swelled in my heart. You see, as a woman in her 30s, I grew up in the ultimate era of Teen Queen Kirsten Dunst. I saw Drop Dead Gorgeous and The Hairy Bird at the movies during their teeny, tiny cinema runs. Bring It On was released on my best friend’s 14th birthday, which happens to be two days after my own, and we went from her sleepover birthday party straight to the cinema.
Somehow, my BFF and I missed Dick at the cinema, but after renting it from Blockbuster, it quickly became our favourite. Aside from being a smart, well-written comedy that’s so rewatchable we’ve probably seen it every year since its release, it was our favourite because it was us, the perfect depiction of a pair of goofy teenage girls so completely caught up in their own world that they spoke exclusively in private jokes, that they could be found together at all times, with lives so intertwined that at one point in the film Kirsten’s character refers to them as “Betsy-Arlene”, as though they exist as one entity. With our 34th birthdays coming up next month, I’m still saved in her phone as Betsy, and she will always be my Arlene.
Of course, teen queens come and go, but what elevates Kiki’s reign above all the others is that in all of these four films, the most prominent from her teen-queen era (although it would be remiss of me to not give the truly bonkers cult classic Get Over It a shout-out, also), the message is never about needing a boyfriend – or a makeover in order to obtain a boyfriend. They’re all about friendships, females in power, the power of female friendships, and pursuing one’s dreams.
All four of these films pass the Bechdel test, and although there are romantic encounters in three of the four films, they’re all relegated to the B or C-plot. Sure, Torrance ends up with Cliff at the end of Bring It On, but the gal has a cheerleading competition to deal with first. Sure, Betsy fools around with Chip in Dick as a way to distract him while Arlene steals the tapes that eventually bring down the Nixon administration. Verena von Stefan finds romance in The Hairy Bird, but it’s in the midst of trying to stop her girl’s school from becoming co-ed – a goal she achieves, before she goes on to achieve her dream of starting her own magazine.
Watching these films in my tween-to-teen years, where you’re basically a sponge for everything you love and you love things with your whole, entire heart, helped shape me into the person I am today. They helped me prioritise myself and my friendships above the approval of my crushes, and although I didn’t realise it at the time, taught me that my goals and aspirations can be the A-plot of my life.
So, as I sat down to watch my one-time teen queen, now my eternal queen, take on multi-level marketing schemes in the weird and wonderful On Becoming A God In Central Florida, I thought, "You know what? I’d buy anything Kiki told me to". After all, I have a lot to be thankful to her for.
New episodes of On Becoming a God in Central Florida premiere 9:30pm Thursdays on SBS and On Demand.Catch episodes 1 and 2 at SBS On Demand now.
Watch the trailer now:
Is Apple's brand new streaming service a game changer? While Fiona takes a well deserved break, SBS Channel Manager Ben Nguyen is joined by SBS Viceland Channel Manager John Beohm to check out the platform and review all the new shows: Jennifer Aniston & Reese Witherspoon in 'Morning Wars' (AKA 'The Morning Show'), Jason Mamoa in 'See', alternate history 'For All Mankind' and millennial literary comedy 'Dickinson'.