Movies + TV

Lizzie McGuire Had Real Problems

A list of fictional characters I will never be as old as.

Basically all I do is watch stuff. This has been a daily tradition of mine since I was a mere fetus. I also have Youngest Child Syndrome, meaning teenagers have always seemed like THE COOLEST PEOPLE EVER to me, whether it was my sisters or camp counselors or babysitters. I didn’t realize until I started writing this that I am now the same age—in some cases even older—than many of the characters I’ve forever aspired to be like. This list has no thesis, I am simply marveling at this phenomenon. I could be a fully grown grownup with many children and orphanages and Nobel Prizes and You Are An Adult Prizes and still feel like I can only hope to one day be as mature and accomplished as Lizzie McGuire. Sigh.

1. Lizzie McGuire

Drowning in pillows as a metaphor for the perils of preteen life.

Lizzie always seemed grown up because of all her problems. Problems like her first bra, her crush on Ethan, her desire for a pair of expensive designer jeans, or the dilemma I’m sure all adults must face at one point or another of trying to outdo their middle school nemesis in a Christmas-float competition so they can sing “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” with Steven Tyler. Her problems were so huge that she couldn’t adequately express them through one body: she had to have a little animated version of herself that popped up every few seconds to offer a sassy remark. Unless you have one of those, I don’t wanna hear about your “chronic illness” or “actual poverty” or whatever it is you’re whining about.

2. Kim MacAfee

How I would like to hug and comfort and slap some sense into the younger version of myself, who expected herself to look like this by the age of 16. Ann-Margret was 23 years old when she played Kim in Bye Bye Birdie, so it’s like, of course you can talk about how lovely it is to be a woman, cause you ARE ONE, you Elvis-dater, you. I am technically in the same grade as Kim now, and I feel strongly that I could beat up her boyfriend, Hugo Peabody, any time, but still I can see myself wistfully watching the “How Lovely to Be A Woman” number when I’m 90, sitting up a bit in my bedazzled wheelchair (thanks in advance, Petra!), eagerly awaiting the day I, too, will eventually become a woman.

3. Arthur (not a teenager, AND YET!)

Wholesome!

Arthur had glasses! He and his friends went to the Sugar Bowl without a chaperone! They had tons of homework! This meant they were super old.

4. The Tough Customers

Threatening!

But who would be more adult than the people Arthur and his friends feared? Arthur & co. were third-graders, but the Tough Customers were fourth-graders. Arthur may have worn glasses, but the Tough Customers wore cutoff denim vests. Arthur & co. may have gone to the Sugar Bowl alone, but the Tough Customers never showed up in public, because they were mysterious. Arthur may have had tons of homework, but the Tough Customers didn’t do homework. They also growled when they took bites out of their cafeteria food, and called people names like gleeper. When I see fourth-graders in real life I’m shocked they’re able to walk and talk (youngest child, remember? I have no sense of what behavior is normal for anyone under the age of 10), but I would hide from a Tough Customer any day.

5. D.J. Tanner

It takes a real mature gal to pull off that kind of hat.

D.J. is just such a mom that I can’t imagine I’ll ever be as responsible as her. She’s like a longer-haired, female version of Bob Saget.

6. Cher Horowitz

LIFE, amirite?

Cher is a Beverly Hills hyper-exaggerated parody of a teenage girl, but since I was too young to get the satire when the TV show was on and when I first saw the movie, I really thought every one of her qualities was incredibly desirable. And because Cher says things like “’Tis a far better thing doing stuff for other people,” I thought she was really mature and worldly wise. I am now old enough to be her peer, and yet her knowledge on how to get boys to like you and how to manipulate teachers still feels like something I will never be able to grasp. But most of all, it is her 1995 virtual-paper-doll-closet synchronized computer program that plagues me, and continues to symbolize some unattainable kind of adult sense of organization and womanly savvy.

7. Audrey Horne

I mean.

I just can’t imagine that I would ever be able to do her sultry dance without ruining it by like, snarting. ♦

49 Comments

  • nina19 January 27th, 2012 3:12 PM

    Ah, this takes me back. I was so jealous of Lizzie McGuire and I still want to have her life. And although Arthur was pretty cool, I had always dreamed of being like one of the Tough Customers; I thought they were so grown-up and exciting.

    http://heres-to-nina.blogspot.com/

  • MissKnowItAll January 27th, 2012 3:27 PM

    OMG Arthur is on Rookie too!!!. It’s just one of those shows that I’ll never outgrow. My favorite characters were Sue Ellen and of course DW. But the character I envied was Molly, the coolest of the tough customers. She was cool, pretty and pretty damn smart. I was confused about one thing though. If arthur is an animal how does he have a pet dog? Just wondering…

    • Naomi January 27th, 2012 4:11 PM

      arthur has his own tag, would you expect any less?

      • MissKnowItAll January 27th, 2012 5:17 PM

        My favorite episode was when DW told her own version of the Odyssey. It came in handy when I had to read it for english.

    • Ana January 29th, 2012 10:50 PM

      I’m 18 and i go to parties and talk to people about Arthur. Try it; you’ll make friends :)

  • Georgie January 27th, 2012 3:33 PM

    Omigod, Lizzie McGuire. I remember how I totally thought she could solve just everybody’s problems. She should have been President or Agony Aunt to the world.

  • Ginny January 27th, 2012 3:34 PM

    I’ll never forget how awkward/stressful it was watching the Lizzie McGuire “I WANT A BRA” episode with my older brother and sister when I was little.

  • Cateyes January 27th, 2012 3:37 PM

    I can’t believe you left Kelly Taylor off the list

  • cherrycola27 January 27th, 2012 3:42 PM

    I’ve been watching Lizzie McGuire episodes on Youtube. They’re just so…innocent? And nostalgic. All her problems get solved in twenty-two minutes, it’s perfect.
    And I once wrote a paper on how perfect Arthur and his world are. Wish I could live there. Oh, the Sugar Bowl.

  • HelloAbby January 27th, 2012 3:45 PM

    I’m going to start keeping my jeans under my mattress.

  • Susann January 27th, 2012 4:05 PM

    Lizzie McGuire! Cher Horowitz! You got great names on your list and are so right: even though I’m now older than them, they seem so much more mature then I was at their ages…

    http://fashioninpepperland.blogspot.com

  • Mustachefan January 27th, 2012 4:08 PM

    I will always want to be Lizzie McGuire.

  • Naomi January 27th, 2012 4:10 PM

    damn you ann margret, i am 17 and still not appealing!!
    also ann margret in the flintstones, i think i honestly thought i would turn out like that.

  • marit January 27th, 2012 4:24 PM

    oh my goodness this post describes my life. i remember looking up to all these characters, and then eventually surpassing most of them in age, and being kind of shocked that i don’t feel as, well, OLD as they seemed.
    like Arthur? he was the epitome of cool; in third grade I still wished I was more like him and his friends.
    And Cher and D.J. – coolest teenagers ever. I so remember idolizing them and other teenagers when i was a kid, and it’s crazy to think that now I AM that!

  • missblack January 27th, 2012 4:47 PM

    OMG Arthur is the best show ever!! I still watch it whenever I can and I’m 17 hahaha…
    I always secretly thought the Tough Customers were really cool…especially the red-haired girl witht the bangs across her eyes. I hoped fiercely that someday they would all beat up Muffy, but that sadly did not happen.

    Little&Trivial

  • darksideoftherainbow January 27th, 2012 4:53 PM

    arthur!! my first experience using a computer was waaaay back when macs were called macintosh and it was rainbow colored. we used to play arthur games in school on those huge, ancient things. i think i was in 8th grade when i asked for stuffed arthur dolls for christmas. it was an obsession that started early on.

  • fizzingwhizbees January 27th, 2012 5:02 PM

    It really freaks me out that currently my BABY BROTHER is the same age as Lizzie McGuire, and somehow she still seems older than me. I’m still waiting to have friends as cool as Miranda and Gordo.

  • RaygunK January 27th, 2012 6:12 PM

    You know what’s a really mind eff? Lizzie is preggers.

  • Kathryn January 27th, 2012 6:32 PM

    I have Youngest Child Syndrome as well. I just realized I will be 20 in 5 years, but I feel closer to like… 8.

  • Laia January 27th, 2012 7:02 PM

    TOUGH CUSTOMERS 4-EVZ.

  • Hunter January 27th, 2012 7:21 PM

    You do really ruin everything by snarting.

  • Stephanie January 27th, 2012 7:50 PM

    Just rewatched Clueless and am still freakin blown away by Cher’s outfit computer program. UM WHY DOES THIS NOT EXIST because I am old and still terrible at picking out outfits sometimes.

  • Gabrielle January 27th, 2012 8:29 PM

    Oh geeze. I loved (amd still do) every single person mentioned. I always watched Lizzie McGuire after school, I thought Bye Bye Birdie was really cool because of the phones, Clueless is my excuse for extra-cred on classics, Fullhouse is on everymorning, and Arthur and TC are probably the coolest opposites, plus I tried to learn hownto dance like Audrey at about, 11. Still can’t dance…

  • teen goth January 27th, 2012 8:53 PM

    I have always loved Arthur. Even now I just fan-girl when I heard the opening credits on TV.

  • summer thyme January 27th, 2012 9:12 PM

    I’m 24 and I still want to be Audrey Horne. And Cher. And holy high priestess of all cool older girls, Kat Stratford from ’10 Things I Hate About You.’ Sherilynn Fenn was 25 when Twin Peaks was filmed, though, so that still gives me hope ;)

  • andy January 27th, 2012 9:22 PM

    A baseball cap, Kim MacAfree? You ARE zany!

  • Hayley January 27th, 2012 9:39 PM

    The captions are gold.

  • aguas15 January 27th, 2012 9:55 PM

    I feel like any of my own personal fashion icons that aren’t on here (whether it’s because they aren’t teenagers or they aren’t particularly notable) still can connect in some way to the awesome ones that are. Well done Rookie <3

  • January 27th, 2012 10:08 PM

    When I was little I wanted to be like Sonny. He helped fight crime and was best friends with a kangaroo. Now, many years later and hours away from any natural bushland I still hold out hope! #Skippy

  • Mags January 27th, 2012 10:45 PM

    I’m still jealous of Cher and I’m ten years older than she was in the movie. I still don’t ever manage to look as put-together and stylish and well-groomed as she did on a daily basis. Amazing.

  • Sea goddess January 27th, 2012 11:10 PM

    I log on to rookie and fin Lizzie McGuire in the front page, my face = pure happiness
    May this sound a bit wierd, but when I feel sad or as misfit, I always think back to the days where I’d watch Lizzie on TV, and pretend as if my life was a play and I’am playing Lizzie’s role, this always gets me through tough times:)
    I love RookieMag!:) Xo

  • taste test January 28th, 2012 12:59 AM

    EEEEE THE TOUGH CUSTOMERS! I loved them! I always liked Molly best, the rabbit with red hair and a cut-off denim vest and ripped jeans and no eyes. I’m amazed how many other people here liked her too. She just seemed so badass, and I always imagined myself as looking like her when I was finally A Teenager (only not a cartoon, obviously).

  • theaterbex January 28th, 2012 3:31 AM

    I definitely relate to this post, but I think it’s really funny that Tavi wrote it. Because I’m older than Tavi, but I still never feel like I’ll be as mature and accomplished. Don’t take that in a low-self-esteem way. I know I’ll accomplish great things, but I’m just amazed by how much she’s done already.

    A couple other things:

    1. I was talking to some friends the other day about looking up to seniors. When we were freshmen, we all idolized the seniors in our respective extra-curricular activities. For me, those were the theatre seniors. I knew ALL of them, but I was always surprised if one of them acknowledged me. But eventually, I became a theatre senior, and the tables were turned. Suddenly, freshmen looked up to me. But the thing was, I had always… canonized these people in my mind. I was disappointed when I discovered I was still the same person I had been in 9th grade, just a little bit more responsible and thoughtful. Now, I’m a high school graduate. It’s so weird to think that seniors are younger than me.

    2. No love for book characters? No matter how old I get, I’ll never be as grown-up and awesome as Nina from the Young Wizard’s series. Or as strong and brave as any of Tamora Pierce’s heroines. Even non-fantasy characters. Lilly Moscovitz was always my hero. And Georgia Nicolson has life experience and wit that I just don’t.

    Anyway, loved this post. It’s so so true.

  • all-art-is-quite-useless January 28th, 2012 10:20 AM

    I still love Arthur, I just want to be in his gang and hang out in the Sugar Bowl and be taught by Mr Ratburn…

  • Toria Crux January 28th, 2012 2:42 PM

    Arthur’s an aardvark, right?

    • MissKnowItAll January 28th, 2012 5:44 PM

      Yes. I just don’t understand how Binky’s a bulldog and arthur has a pet dog.

  • chelsear January 28th, 2012 3:40 PM

    Even when I was in middle school I thought Lizzie McGuire was millenniums older than me. I mean, she became a foreign pop sensation on her EIGHTH GRADE school trip! As for Kim MacAfee, I will admit that I reenact “How Lovely To Be A Woman” every time I get dressed. Also, my sixteenth birthday is a mere few months away and, naturally, I am expecting to magically turn into some fabulous and sophisticated woman with a lovely voice and perfectly brushed out curls!

    I still remember how accomplished I felt when I entered the fourth grade, realizing that I was the same age as the gang from Recess. And when I was in the sixth grade I just couldn’t believe that I was in the same grade as the scary big kids that TJ and the gang so desperately feared!

    xo
    http://couturecultureblog.blogspot.com

  • Nomi January 28th, 2012 5:14 PM

    This is exactly how I feel about the Babysitter’s Club. I’m now three years older than the youngest members were and I still feel younger than them.

  • MissKnowItAll January 28th, 2012 6:30 PM

    I love how I’m reading the comments and I realize how many other people also watched Lizzy Mcguire and Arthur.

  • Chandler January 28th, 2012 7:49 PM

    i feel the exact same way abotu this. i love this post. also another one for me is amanda bynes on the amanda show :)

  • willow January 28th, 2012 11:09 PM

    One time when I went shopping with my mom in junior high I found a pair of jeans that looked just like Lizzie’s in that jeans episode and it was pretty much the best day of my life

  • The Emma Edition January 28th, 2012 11:55 PM

    Besides the fact that Lizzie McGuire was awkward, altruistic, funny and basically everything I aspire to be, she was also super stylish and is one of my number #1 style inspirations. She and Miranda were always experimenting with dip-dye clip-in extensions, bubble backpacks, neon faux fur, and wedge flip flops. I could actually talk about this forever <3 <3 <3

  • Nikilodeon January 29th, 2012 3:37 AM

    OHMYGIDDYGODSPAJAMAS yes!! I feel the same way! When I was a little kid, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a TEENAGER. And even though I’m already as old as most of the teens I looked up to as a kid, I still feel like I’ll never be as old as them. Like all those Disney Princesses. I could be 34 and they still would feel older than me.

  • EmmaAmerica January 29th, 2012 6:43 AM

    Ah, I am so glad, as always when I read rookie, to find I am not the only one that feels like this. I mean, they had things to worry about! Like Boys! (If anyone had told my seven year old self that people have way bigger issues when they are teenagers and nobody actually cares about that stuff, I don’t know what I would have done!)

    http://inthissummerhaze.blogspot.com

  • sophiee January 29th, 2012 9:25 AM

    haha omg so good, love all of these shows. also i love that i read this on the day i decided to rewatch all of so little time ! wooo

  • Jamie January 30th, 2012 3:55 PM

    i’m still waiting to be old enough to babysit

  • captainclaire January 31st, 2012 4:14 AM

    And Arthur learnt about serious, real life stuff, like plagiarism and being honest when selling things. I was so surprised by that when I watched it again recently. Oh, and Matt Damon was in the episode that told of how the show originated, it was so weird.

  • truepenny February 1st, 2012 8:03 PM

    Ahh! Cher’s magical closet! I had DREAMS about that closet. I have to tell you, as a wizened and accomplished 24-year-old, it still eludes me.

    Betty and Veronica were my teenage idols. I remember turning 16 and finding a picture of myself, which I drew at 10, of myself at 16 that looked like Veronica except with curly hair and freckles. I laughed/cried at my completely ridiculous expectations. I still don’t look like that drawing.