So the other week I came across this movie from 2015 entitled “The Duff” starring Mae Whitman as Bianca Piper, and Robbie Amell as Wesley Rush. It is directed by Ari Sandel, and is based on a book with the same title by Kody Keplinger.
The story is centered on Bianca- a high school teen in her senior year, smart and witty- whose life turned a hundred eighty degrees when Wesley- a debonaire, football captain, but a bit academically challenged- told her that she is a DUFF or a “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”.
She got offended because she was neither fat nor ugly. Wesley explains though, that a DUFF does not necessarily have to be fat and/or ugly. A DUFF is someone in a circle of friends who is the least popular, but the most approachable. He further explained that DUFFs are those who get exploited by other people to get access to the more desirable and popular members of a certain circle of friends.
Bianca tried to observe if what Wesley said makes sense, and she realized, yes, it definitely does make sense. She has two other female friends- Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Casey (Bianca Santos). Both are good looking, hot, well dressed and made up. When the three of them are together, people greet Jess and Casey, but not her. She looked back and realized that indeed, she was for most times unnoticed. She got depressed. She unfriended Jess and Casey, but developed an unusual friendship with Wesley, who by the way is her neighbor. Bianca asked Wesley if he could help her have confidence in becoming the “dateable one”. In exchange, she would help her pass their Chemistry class with which Wesley’s Football Scholarship depends upon.
Things got aggravated when her crush- Toby (Nick Eversman)- agreed to have a date with her in his house, only to find out that Toby was not really interested in her, but just wanted to get an access to Jess and Casey. She ran away in tears and sought Wesley’s comfort but she saw him kissing Madison (Bella Thorne)- an aspiring reality TV star who is also very popular in their school, and the one who embarrassed her one time by posting a video of her kissing a manikin in a mall and calling it Toby- in her “thinking rock”.
She went into further depression and self pity. She felt that she was alone. Eventually, she realized that Jess and Casey were her true friends all along and so they got reunited.
With the help of Jess, Casey, and her mother Dottie (Allison Janney), Bianca decided to attend the homecoming dance.
That night she was determined that she is no DUFF. Or if she was a DUFF, there is nothing wrong with it and therefore she embraced it and accepted herself. She regained her confidence and approached Wesley and told him that she was into him. But Wesley said he and Madison were a couple already. When Madison saw that Bianca was talking to Wesley, she confronted Bianca, but Bianca had very smart things to say to her which made Wesley fall in love with her that instant.
Madison and Wesley were announced as the Homecoming Queen and King, but Wesley did not receive the award, instead, he went to Bianca, kissed her in the middle of the crowd and ran away with her.
I like the movie because it spoke to me. I see myself so much as a DUFF- at least until college. I had a lot of friends, but I was not the cool guy. I was the approachable one, the go to person when things get awry, but never “that” guy. I had a lot of insecurities, and yes I tried so many times to fit in.
The movie tells us that as a person, we can never be perfect and we can never have everything. It is just, as they say, a matter of perspective. Whether you are the DUFF, or “the man”, you play a role. And the way to succeed in a cruel world is to play that role well, and be happy about it.
It reminds us that we should not allow anyone or anybody to define who we are or what we are worth. That at the end of the day, it is us who will determine our fates. It also prods us to embrace our identities, and makes us remember that we cannot make other people like or love us, if we cannot even like or love ourselves. We just have to be true to who we are- that is the key.
In closing, I will leave these quotes from the movie for everyone of us to ponder upon:
“No matter what label is thrown your way, only you can define yourself”
“There is always gonna be somebody prettier, more talented or richer than you. But it shouldn’t affect how you see yourself”
“You’re only as awesome as you think you are”
Thanks for reading guys!