I can neither confirm nor deny my presence in this picture...
Having just come off of my own prom, and having an unexpected blast, I thought I'd take a look at some of TV's famous attempts to capture that most anticipated of teen events. So here's some of my favourite prom episodes from recent memory that stand out in the slow dance of televised pop-culture; full of drama, angst, laughs and of course, glamour:
(In no particular order)
One was the pivotal, high stakes season 1 finale, the other marking the end of an era and featuring an axe-wielding, psycho-ghost murderer, but both have major parts to play in the Smallville lore. The draw here wasn't the big catastrophes looming (the tempest itself and the aforementioned psycho prom queen possessor) but instead the small, personal dramas of Clark and Chloe. In "Tempest", Clark finally asked Chloe for a slow dance (to the series theme tune, "Save Me" no less) which was romantic and all, but it was of course interrupted by the storm blowing into town and Clark's responsibility to stop it, especially as his real love interest, Lana, was at risk. He never did return to the dance with Chloe and we could all feel her pain at being so close to what she wanted, but then being harshly reminded that it was never going to happen.
Skip ahead to season 4 and it was time for the senior prom, where amongst all the supernatural peril, "Spirit" saw the gang's high school years drawing to a close. Again, Clark gets his slow dance on, but this time with Lana despite his fears of rejection. Chloe looks on, admitting how the events of the last prom (in "Tempest") still hurt, although reminded by the glowing Lois that Chloe's future may be even greater than Clark's himself. Neatly tied into each other, both looking fabulously Prom-like, a great music selection and the dramatic, emotion driven beats made these two super promisodes gleam brightly amongst the sci-fi and action elements surrounding the show's mythos.
How I Met Your Mother
"Best Prom Ever"
Say what you will about those folks down at McKinley High, but they sure can throw a prom. Multiple, it would seem, and manage to keep both different enough from one another to justify its inclusion in the series. Whilst neither of these were ground-breaking in their prom portrayals, both certainly had their highlights, whether it was the surprise performance of Rebecca Black's "Friday" and the turmoil Kurt went through in "Prom Queen" or the bizarre Brittany "Dinosaur" number, the cute Becky/Puck stuff and that ever-hilarious Jar-Jar binks line in "Prom-asaurus". Cheesy, yes, but there was also a lot of the emotional high notes being struck throughout reminding all us Gleeks why Glee still rules the teen-drama scene.
"The One with the Prom Video"
|'Twas a simpler time|
The Suite Life of Zach and Cody
|Less than ideal...|
You can't beat some classic Disney Channel, especially when it was a pre-pubescent Zack and Cody. In all honesty, this was probably the closest the show got to resembling some kind of sincerity between Maddie (Ashley Tisdale) and Zach. In hindsight with that particular relationship, even though it was just a kids' show, there were some poignant themes of tragedy and inevitability of heartbreak involved. So when the two dance, you know that for the significantly younger Zach this is his only realistic shot with the crush of his life. Bet you never thought Zach and Cody could be rich in humanised subtext, eh? Plus the Cody-Mime subplot here was a genuine funny highlight of the series.
|Yep, that's Community for ya.|
While not strictly speaking a prom, out of all the dances Greendale holds (some for the most obscurest of reasons), the "Transfer Dance" in this episode was pretty much the show's homage to the classic Prom episode. In true Community (and Greendale) style, it's not prom queen they're running for, but "Tranny Queen", while a love triangle then becomes a line, back to a triangle, and then a quad, and there is some very impromptu and inappropriate rapping going on courtesy of Professor Duncan. Add to that with Dean Pelton's developing Dalmatian fetish and Abed toying with the TV tropes themselves to deliver some genuine heart-warming stuff that rounds off the terrific first season, and you've got a sort-of-prom episode that won't be forgotten in a hurry.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
As a show having always been a very close portrayal of teen life (despite the whole demons and vampires thing), Buffy's Prom episode was damn near perfect, encompassing everything you could want from it. The hype and build-up, the preparation, the fun, the raw emotion, the hell hounds of doom -- oh right, that too. Yet even with its trademark slayage of creatures from the nether, each part of this episode somehow sprung from the prom ideal. These dogs were being set upon people in tuxedos and dresses, which seems daft on face value, but is given meaning from the lonely, prom-hater kid who trained them. Xander and Cordelia's friendship is restored through his generosity of buying her dress in her struggling financial times, and even Buffy gets recognition from her peers as being "Class Protector", in a truly eye-watering moment that culminated the past 3 years.
By no means a comprehensive list, of course, so sorry if I missed one of your own favourites. However, one thing that does remain clear throughout all of these is the theme of endings and beginnings, all resting on one night of living in the moment; and if these beloved characters can do it, then you bet that the rest of us (past, present and future) can too.