One of the pinnacle points of being a 90’s kid is the sense of nostalgia permeating everything, there has to a reason why there has been so many reboots and remakes over the past couple of years – we eat those things like breakfast cereal. So it was no surprise to me that the release of the new Princess Diaries book this past week had me fangirling almost as much as if the Spice Girls announced another reunion *holding thumbs*.
I have come along way since the wide-eyed 12-year-old that picked up the first Princess Diaries and wished that someday she would get the news that she’s a secret princess of some obscure European country, now I’m a 25-year-old who still wishes that. Throughout the years, I have read countless other books but there is something about this series which has stuck with and affected me still to this day. Perhaps it is a callback to my youthful innocence or to a simpler time, but each time I reread this series it’s like visiting an old friend, and the recent book just solidified the fact that this will stay with me for a long long time.
These are just some reasons that I think the Princess Diaries series is a timeless classic:
1. Mia Thermopolis was owning listicles before Buzzfeed
I would say that the need for listing and ranking is a purely teenage hobby but with the advent of Buzzfeed and dubbing of the word ‘listicles’ this is disapproved by a long shot. What Meg Cabot does well is she is able to delve into what a diary of a teenager really looks like, for most of us that kept one they aren’t filled with long thesis-like posts about postmodernism or analysis of the law, it has reactionary posts, it has long, dramatic rants about how our life is over because our parents did something embarrassing, it’s us gushing day after day about our crush who doesn’t notice us, and of course there is the complaints about our body (just like Mia, my boobs took it’s own sweet time to arrive) and has lists about which celebrities are the hottest, heroines who kick ass, best Sci-Fi TV shows. I constantly looked forward to these sections in the books and Mia (and of course Meg Cabot) foresaw the genesis of the age of Buzzfeed listicles.
2. Lilly Moscovitz was the original Youtuber
Lilly, Mia’s very opinionated best friend, through most of the series runs an investigative reporting/ranting series called Lilly Tells It As It Is which she ropes most of their friendship group into working on. But Lilly’s guts to ‘self-publish’ her own shows is very reminiscent of the webshows and vloggers we are so often inundated with. Lilly learnt a lot of lessons throughout the course of the series, a lot of the time because of her control issues and her arrogance but what was one of her truly admirable traits was the confidence she had in her opinion and her ability to make herself heard. If she was a teen today, she would own the blogosphere and be a regular at VidCon and other conventions.
3. Reformed mean girls for the win
I have a weakness for 3D characters who have both good points and bad, and at first glance Lana Weinberger (the Mandy Moore character from the first film) is the A-typical mean girl. She is blonde, beautiful, rich and she’s dating the hottest guy in school. She often verbally abuses Mia and other less than popular girls, and whenever she gets her comeuppance in the earlier books we as the readers cheer for joy. But what happens in the later books counteracts this image of Lana as just being yet another Regina George – she grows up. It’s not the result of someone or something else, Lana just gradually realises that the reason that she acted a specific way to Mia and other classmates might not have been warranted, so she makes amends. As a former mean girl who often hurt others in order to mask my own insecurities, it was extremely realistic that the instigation for Lana’s change of heart would be maturing and coming into her own. Despite all the transgressions, Lana even earned a place as one of Mia’s bridesmaids in the final book.
4. Michael Moscovitz is perfect
Okay maybe not perfect perfect, but he’s right up there with Mr. Darcy and Mark Darcy (and all the other Colin Firth-ish characters) for me. Michael is smart, funny, good looking, plays the guitar (swoon) and he is respectful of her and her position. Despite growing up to be a CEO of a medical technology firm, he is always willing to put up with and take a back seat to Mia’s role as a princess. His many declarations of love, and the cutesy moments between them have helped to ruin me for all other real life men. But even despite his superhuman boyfriend skills, Mia and Michael still have pretty poignant relationship problems that go against the whole love conquers all mantra that we often forced to swallow – they have many rifts because of their large age gap, her insecurities, his need to prove that he is worthy of her, her not being ready for sex – which even results in a break up for a couple of years. Hiccups aside as both Mia and Michael grow up it is obvious that they are perfect together – they love each other, they support each other, they knew each other before the one was a princess and the other was a famous inventor/CEO, and they will forever be one of my definitions of relationship goals.
5. The countless pop culture references
One of the best things about this series for me is that Mia countlessly makes pop culture references. She likens problems that’s she’s going through to storylines on TV shows and movies, she talks about real life celebrities and royals that she meets as a princess and she The Princess Diaries movies. Even though some of these references are now dated especially with the TV shows that are no longer on air (R.I.P Buffy and Xena) they are still broad enough for modern audiences to understand them. In the new book, Royal Wedding, I wasn’t disappointed as 26-year-old Mia loves pop culture just as much as her 14-year-old self and she depicts that it is possible for her to talk about in-depth diplomacy issues, animal rights as well as Teen Wolf and Say Yes to the Dress. Mia even hilariously accused her grandmother of ‘Game of Throning’ her wedding.
I could list plenty more reasons why this series is one of the greats – from the excellent comedic moments, to the strong feminism encouraged, to the diversity in the race and sexuality of the other characters, to the fact that it was the reason why we now have Anne Hathaway, the Princess Diaries series might be finally over over 16 years but I feel that it has the staying power to live on even after Mia Thermopolis puts her crown down.