Prom Dates: Did a True Story Inspire the Hulu Movie?

Under the direction of Kim O. Nguyen, ‘Prom Dates’ is a delightful romantic comedy packed with amusing characters, personal growth journeys, and comedic situations woven throughout. Jess and Hannah, the central characters who are friends and classmates, made a pact when they were 13 to find the perfect prom dates. However, their expectations are shattered as their actual prom approaches, setting the stage for unexpected twists and turns.

Amid prom preparations, Jess discovers her intended date is unfaithful and ends their relationship. Meanwhile, Hannah, who has a devoted boyfriend named Greg, grapples with her conflicting emotions when he alters his plans to be closer to her, unaware of her sexual orientation. Determined to honor their childhood pact, both teens embark on a quest to find ideal prom dates with time ticking away. Even though romantic comedies are ideally meant to escape reality, some real-life inspirations inadvertently sweep in. Whether ‘Prom Dates’ is based on any such influences is a question that needs to be answered.

The Contribution of Real People Helps Prom Dates Stand Out

‘Prom Dates’ is a fictional story featuring made-up characters, yet it’s rooted in the realistic struggles and uncertainties faced by high school teenagers, mirroring challenges encountered in real life. Penned by D.J. Mausner, the film authentically portrays Hannah’s character development, who identifies as a lesbian. Mausner’s personal experiences as a nonbinary individual, who identifies with any pronouns and predominantly embraces their queer identity, resonate throughout the story. This authenticity lends depth to Hannah’s journey of self-discovery and coming out, making her character arc profoundly realistic.

It is paramount for individuals from the LGBTQ community to tell their own stories, mainly when depicting LGBTQ stories. Doing so not only ensures authenticity but also fosters a sense of responsibility in accurately portraying a marginalized community’s experiences. By centering their voices in creating and developing such narratives, storytelling becomes a powerful tool for representation and advocacy, promoting empathy, understanding, and social change. Moreover, it empowers people to reclaim the representation of their identity, challenge stereotypes, and celebrate the diversity of their experiences, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.

The film is rich with stereotypical high school experiences that resonate with audiences who have all encountered them in some form during their lives. One particularly amusing aspect depicted is the “promposal,” a grand, often elaborate gesture where a student asks another to be their date to the prom. The embarrassment that Hannah experiences when Greg asks her out in an extravagant fashion is something the audience can feel in their bones. Similarly, Jess’ desire to win the title of “prom queen” is an attempt at social validation that is not an alien feeling to many.

The film firmly upholds its commitment to authentic representation, exemplified by the casting choice of Julia Lester, who appears as Hannah in the film and identifies as pansexual in real life. This deliberate alignment between the actors’ identities and the characters they play underscores the production’s dedication to genuine and inclusive storytelling. By casting individuals who authentically reflect the diversity of the characters they play, the film fosters greater visibility and understanding and empowers actors from the LGBTQ community to stand proudly with their identity.

While the film revels in its fantastical and uproarious moments, brimming with gags and physical comedy, an underlying humanity serves as its cohesive force. Despite its fictional premise, ‘Prom Dates’ is crafted by real people, and their creativity and insight infuse the characters and plots with believability. This fusion of humor and genuine human connection allows the film to transcend its fictional origins, leaving a lasting and real impression beyond the screen.

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