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“Actually, I have this theory I like to call “High school is the World of Jane Austen.” I think movies and TV shows like to set things in high schools because they can create artificial constraints on characters’ behavior and force characters to continue interacting and to compete for limited goods (social status, boyfriends, etc.) from within a limited pool. It’s tricky to modernize Jane Austen because people aren’t trapped in a limited social world with very limited life choices — today Lizzie Bennet and Darcy could get married with no real social stigma, but Lizzie would have gone off to Princeton on a fencing scholarship anyway and majored in anthropology and interned at a snarky feminist magazine based in NYC. But! If you stick the characters in an American high school, they have a limited pool of other humans to interact with and a limited set of life choices available and they must try to achieve status and success within that constrained milieu, as Austen’s characters did. Which is why “Clueless” is such a successful update of “Emma.”

Jocks, Nerds and Rebels (tm) - America US Schools | Ask MetaFilter
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