As a self-confessed former teenage overachiever with an insufferable drive for success and a hypersexualized approach to the world around me, there are few characters in cinema that speak to me as loudly as Tracy Enid Flick. Alexander Payne's biting satire of midwest teenage politics based on Tom Perrotta's brilliant novel of the same name, "Election," remains a seminal favorite, and quite possibly one of the most honest films about the corruption of the American electoral system. While Reese Witherspoon had been acting for a few years leading up to the film's release, her performance as Tracy Flick proved that she was more than just a teen starlet, and was an acting powerhouse destined for greatness.

Released in indisputably the most significant year of teen cinema, 1999, "Election" tells the story of high school government teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) and his disdain for his precocious student, Tracy Flick, who constantly blurs the lines of ethics to find success. When Tracy looks to be running unopposed for high school president, Mr. McAllister convinces a popular himbo football player, Paul (Chris Klein), to run against her. What unfolds is a messy battle of questionable morals, immaturity, and deception.

"Tracy Flick" became a character archetype ​​— her name evoked to describe any determined woman refusing to play by the rules. She was interpreted by many as a villain, but as society's conversations surrounding women have evolved, so too have opinions on the character. Now, almost 25 years later, Witherspoon is returning to the screen in the sequel "Tracy Flick Can't Win," based on another book by Perrotta that shows what happened to the former class president of George Washington Carver High School … and the timing couldn't be more perfect.

Pick Flick

When we last saw Tracy Flick, she was working her way through law school and buddying up with politicians on Capitol Hill, much to the ire of her discredited teacher, Mr. McAllister, who throws a drink at her limousine in rage, because some men will get their feelings hurt by a teenage girl and spend the rest of their life making it the world's problem. This ending is a departure from Tom Perrotta's original book, which means "Tracy Flick Can't Win" will have to take a similar approach taken by Mike Flanagan for "Doctor Sleep," by marrying the legacy of the first film's differences from the first book and seamlessly incorporating it into the film adaptation of the follow-up.

The film version of "Election" presents Tracy Flick through the lens of Mr. McAllister, who proves himself to be an unreliable narrator from moment one. Even the freeze-frame images of Reese Witherspoon take place during her most unflattering facial expressions — a way to paint her as the monstrous brat he believes her to be. Her most unfavorable moments are delivered with a screaming score by Ennio Morricone. As an audience, we are meant to see Tracy as filtered through his gaze, which is probably why so many people believe her to be a shrill nightmare. "Tracy Flick Can't Win" will allow the titular character to take control of her own narrative and speak to her own story and experiences without the biased perspective of Mr. McAllister. Even if she herself becomes an unreliable narrator, at least she's finally in control of her own story.

'You Can't Interfere With Destiny'

"Tracy Flick Can't Win" focuses on the character as an adult, working as an assistant principal at a high school in New Jersey, not working as a politician or lawyer like she had dreamed. Despite Mr. McAllister's unfounded belief that the Tracy Flicks of the world will always manipulate their way to the top while "good guys" like him will end up struggling, Tracy does not get the destiny she'd dreamed of, because the real world will always take precedence. Tom Perrotta's novel investigates the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, examines the weird idolization of American high school athletes, provides a takedown of the myth of meritocracy, and delivers an examination of the way adults never fully heal from their teenage trauma.

As an adult, the ambition that drove Tracy in "Election" has long since burned out, and the former overachiever is now grappling with the reality that all of her hard work in her younger years has amounted to, well, a pretty ordinary adulthood. She's trying to find a way to navigate the reality that she was in a statutory relationship with a teacher during her teen years, an experience that she doesn't feel bad about … or at least, she doesn't allow herself to feel bad about. There will certainly be some that are disappointed that Tracy grew up to have such a mediocre future after what seemed to be such a promising head start — but that's the painful reality of all of the Tracy Flicks of the world — the "gifted child to depressed adult" pipeline is very, very real.

'The Weak Are Always Trying To Sabotage The Strong'

Tracy Flick has always been more than an archetype, existing as an amalgamation of contradictions and the reflection of ideals put upon her without her consent. I'm a staunch supporter of women's rights, but I'm an even bigger proponent of women's wrongs. Tracy Flick has spent nearly 25 years being misread, misinterpreted, judged, hated, and looked down upon by detractors threatened by her power, who intentionally choose to highlight her shortcomings rather than praise her groundbreaking achievements. There's a reason Hillary Clinton has said that Tracy Flick is the fictional character she's compared to most often, and why Barack Obama has called "Election" his favorite film about politics.

And like both real-life politicians mentioned, Tracy Flick is not a perfect protagonist and has plenty of awful qualities, but her biggest crime has always been behaving in a way outside of the expectations put upon her by society. In the years since "Election," we've gone through Beyonce's #DontSayBossy campaign, Sheryl Sandberg's encouragement of women to "lean in," as well as the rise and fall of the #Girlboss. Now, it feels like we're back to where we started, where overachieving women are back to being worthy of annoyance, and countless harassment campaigns on social media. Tracy Flick can't win because she lives in a world that wants nothing more than to see her fail, one that will mock her for her quest for perfection, force her to play dirty, and then discount her for refusing to "play by the rules." And yet, here she is, 25 years later, getting a movie all her own.

That sounds like a win to me.

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