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The Comfort of Conflicted Graduates Trying to Move On

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This article is part of Tropes Week, in which we’re exploring our favorite tropes from cinema history. Read more here.

When The Graduate was released in 1967, young viewers were given the chance to identify with a protagonist who spoke their language. Benjamin Braddock is a recent college graduate with a confusing sex life, overbearing relatives, and no plan for the future. At the time, many young Americans took part in demonstrations against the Vietnam War. The film struck a countercultural chord with this viewership — Benjamin is conflicted about his future and rebels against the older generations of thought. With the widespread appeal of the film came the opportunity for a new trope: the ambivalent college graduate, faced with the task of joining the real world.

Perhaps the antithesis to The Graduate is Booksmart (2019), a fast-paced journey through the tumultuous times of high school graduation. It is obviously a younger film, as its protagonists are moving toward college life instead of out of it. Molly and Amy are wired and full of hope. Here diverges the trope of the ambitious high school graduate, with storylines that often include wild parties and awkward attempts at first sexual encounters.

The high school graduate........

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