Sweet Valley High Movie Is Happening at Last
Teens and tweens of the ’80s and ’90s rushed to their favorite bookstore to buy volume after volume of the Sweet Valley High Series' more than 150 books. Yep, you read that right. MORE THAN 150 BOOKS!!! The massive appeal of the books even spawn spinoffs and a TV series, making it a YA publishing phenomenon.
Now, according to Deadline, Paramount Pictures has hired co-writers Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Harper Dill to bring Sweet Valley High to the big screen. Both have extensive experience in the rom-com arena—Smith co-wrote Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You; Dill is a writer on the new Fox show The Mick and recently scripted 13 Little Blue Envelopesfor New Line/Alloy Entertainment. It’s the first collaboration for Smith & Dill. There are no casting news yet for the movie, but every young actor in Hollywood is surely polishing his/her portfolio at this moment. We have an inkling that the story and the cast will not be as sweet looking as its TV predecessors.
Known for their wild plot twists, the books center on teenage twin sisters, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, who live in the fictional town of Sweet Valley, California. Although identical in appearance, they are complete opposites in personality: Elizabeth is sensible and studious, while Jessica has a more rebellious streak and often gets herself into trouble. Most of their adventures are typical teenage stuff: Young love, drama at school, difficulty at home, but what grabbed the attention of fans was the never-ending list of plot twists.
Real-life twins Brittany and Cynthia Daniel rose to fame in their respective roles as Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield in the popular Nineties TV show Sweet Valley High. ©Saban Int'l/Courtesy Everett Collection
The books, and now the movie, has had their share of recent coverage by authors and fans alike.
Author Roxane Gay wrote in her essay collection, Bad Feminist. “When I read the books now, I know I’m reading garbage, but I remember what it was like to spend my afternoons in Sweet Valley, hanging out with the Wakefield twins and Enid Rollins and Lila Fowler and Bruce Patman and Todd Wilkins and Winston Egbert. The nostalgia I feel for these books and these people makes my chest ache.”
When hearing the news about the movie adaptation, Michelle Ruiz wrote: "Jessica Wakefield and her spoiled-little-rich-girl BFF Lila Fowler’s exclusive Unicorn Club has shades of Mean Girls, and there’s no shortage of outrageous soap operatic plotlines to draw on, including but not limited to: Elizabeth’s brainy best friend Enid Rollins becoming paralyzed in a plane crash (and then miraculously un-paralyzed) and the Wakefields’ evil triplet Margo plotting to murder Elizabeth and steal her identity. And, of course, there’s the love triangle that swirls between the twins and Sweet Valley’s resident stud, Todd Wilkins."
The 1994 TV Series ran for 4 seasons mostly on Fox Network.
And there's even a blogger who created a website just for the series Shanon's Sweet Valley. "After receiving the first two Sweet Valley books from a friend for Christmas, I became re-obsessed with the series. I loved them when I was a kid, so I got a bunch of them from ebay and started reading voraciously. I was saddened to find that the books don’t hold the same magic for my adult self that they did for my adolescent self. Turns out Jessica is a crazy person and Elizabeth is obnoxiously sweet. I decided to share my feelings with the world."
The beloved series was written by Francine Pascal with the help of a team of ghostwriters, the reason behind how she was able to come up with so many books. According to its publisher, the main series sold 60 million copies before its 152nd and final title was published in 2003.
Are you ready to dip yourself in some nostalgia or to pass along your love for the books to your daughter? If you are, go and buy yourself at least the first of Sweet Valley High Series who is now available in e-book format from Macmillan.