There are few movies that sum up a summer weekend with friends like Shag. The film came out in 1989, but was set in the early 1960s when JFK was in office, the world was a more innocent place, and the beach towns held dance competitions on the weekends. Shag starred Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish, and Paige Hannah as four friends from good homes in Spartanburg, S.C., who ditch a staid weekend touring homes in Fort Sumter, for a weekend of fun at Myrtle Beach, as a last gasp of teenage fun before adulthood sets in.
In the film, Cates plays Carson, a respectable young woman who is engaged to a wealthy square, while Fonda is Melaina, the quintessential preacher’s daughter with Marilyn Monroe dreams, Hannah’s Luanne is the uptight daughter of a senator, while Gish’s Pudge has the low self-esteem that comes with the “Pudge.” Over the life-changing weekend, the girls fall in love, follow their dreams, and relish in their friendship.
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It’s a classic movie that is not only fun to watch, but can teach viewers a lot about friendship. If you haven’t seen the movie, there are spoilers. Watch the movie first!
1. Friends don’t let friends make fashion faux pas
When Luanne warns the girls, “Don’t wear dark lipstick” she may be mimicking her mother, but it was also good advice, spoken with love and honesty. Same goes for making a lascivious dance routine with the confederate flag. Good friends just say no.
2. You can have a good time but you cannot be wild
Luanne was happy to give her friends one last weekend together, but she was worried about both their reputations and her parents’ beach house. She gave them the sage advice to have a good time, but conduct themselves like ladies—and while they’re at it, stay off the furniture, and remember that “Daddy’s bourbon is strictly off limits.”
3. Friends support each other’s dreams
When Melaina wanted to win the Miss Sun Queen pageant and meet singer Jimmy Valentine, Luanne helped her memorize Scarlett O’Hara’s heart-rending speech from Gone with the Wind and was willing to pillage her mother’s wardrobe for appropriate attire. Melaina may have lost to the girl in the confederate flag bikini, but her friends had her back the whole way. Similarly, when Pudge was dancing her heart out in the shag contest, the girls all came to cheer her on—even though it meant outing them to Luanne’s parents and ruining their alibi.
4. Friends will do anything for each other—including luring a rock star to your house under false pretenses
After Melaina lost the pageant, Pudge and Luanne teamed up to lure Jimmy Valentine to the house so that Melaina could take her shot at stardom, telling him that Luanne’s father, the senator, wanted to meet him. Jimmy fell for it, and ended up dancing —and more—with Melaina. “I can't believe I'm making out with Jimmy Valentine,” Melaina gushed at one point, but with friends like hers, she shouldn’t have been surprised at all.
5. Friends watch out for each other at parties
When Luanne got so buzzed that she announced, “I can't feel my teeth!” her friends made sure she had a comfortable couch to pass out on. Wasn’t that considerate?
6. Friends may spend time apart, but they are always together
Carson was feeling blue about the fact that she was getting married while all her friends went off to college. “I love y’all so much, and, y’all are going off to college and everything, and you're gonna forget me. I know I shouldn’t be jealous, but I am,” she said, crying. Her friends were quick to correct her. “Carson, I swear, I swear on the Bible I will write you every week from college, and so will Pudge, and so will Malaina,” said Luanne.
7. Friends always present all sides of an argument
When Carson was having doubts about whether or not she should marry Harley Ralston, her friends reminded her of all her options. “Harley Ralston is a wonderful man from a well- rounded family, and I know you're gonna be very happy,” said Luanne, while Melaina helpfully added, “And if you’re not, there's always divorce.” Carson may not have wanted to hear it, but someone needed to point that out.
8. Friends may know what’s better for you than you do
It was pretty clear that Carson wasn’t happy to be getting married off so young. She knew she was going to miss college and her friends and that her parents were more excited about her marriage to Harley than she was. So, when she met Buzz, her friends were surprisingly supportive, because even Luanne knew that Carson wasn’t happy.
9. Friends cover for each other
When Carson was off canoodling with the Ivy League-bound Buzz, instead of boring-old Harley, her friends made sure that Harley didn’t find out (or at least not right away).
10. Friends may change, but friendship doesn’t have to
Over the course of the movie, Carson’s relationship status may have been updated, Luanne let her hair down, Melaina made her move, and Pudge came out on the other side of her own ugly duckling story, but their friendship stayed strong. As the final scene unfolds, there’s no doubt that these women and their friendship will last a lifetime.