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    14 Books Vs. Movie Differences In Netflix's "Moxie"

    "Rebel girl, you are the queen of my world."

    Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu is the story of Vivian Carter, a teen girl in small-town Texas who is fed up with the types of sexism she sees at school and starts an anonymous feminist zine inspired by her mom's punk rock past as a '90s riot grrrl. It's gotten the ol' Netflix treatment in an adaptation helmed by Amy Poehler. Though the film stays on course with the book's central plot, there are a few significant changes. Let's go through them!

    1. In the book, Vivian doesn't try to excuse Mitchell's bad behavior.

    Vivian says "I don't think he's dangerous; I think he's just annoying"

    In Jennifer's novel, Vivian Carter (Hadley Robinson) is a junior in high school. She's definitely an introvert, but she isn't exactly the wallflower loner that she and Claudia, her best friend, are set up to be. She isn't fearing the first day of school, hoping not to be noticed, and she's definitely not making excuses for Mitchell Wilson (Patrick Schwarzenegger), who is a sexist dick. In the film, Viv approaches the new girl, Lucy Hernandez, after Lucy has been harassed by Mitchell and tells her to just ignore him. To which Lucy responds, "I'm going to keep my head up. High." YES, GIRL.

    Because the novel is written in first person and is so internal, Viv doesn't feel as naive as in the movie. Scared to rock the boat? Definitely. But she doesn't excuse the behavior of the boys. She's actually on the cusp of a perfect storm of frustration, anger, and hopelessness. Either way, in both movie and film, Viv takes all of those emotions and pens her first issue of the zine.

    2. Moxie is actually named by Viv's grandparents.

    Principal says "Those girls got moxie" while watching cheerleaders onstage

    In the film, the principal, Shelly, says the cheerleaders have "moxie." At that event, a list ranking the girls of the school into monikers like "Most Bangable" and "Best Rack" is released. One girl is smacked on the rear by a boy. Lucy, the new girl, is labeled something obscene. At the end of this pep rally, Viv storms out in a fury and gets to work on the zine, Moxie.

    In the books, she comes up with the name because it's a comment that her grandmother made.

    3. Seth is now the boy next door who gets a glow-up.

    Seth says to Vivian, "Can I say that? Do you wanna go first?"

    Seth has one of the biggest character changes. In the book, he's a quiet, mysterious, cool boy who just transferred from Austin. He's described as having dark hair and olive skin, and his dad's name is Alejandro, so all signs point to Latinx coding. His parents are artists, and he's not used to small-town schools. His point of view from a more liberal city reinforces Viv's feelings that her school is particularly backward.

    The movie version of Seth is more cheerful, sweet, and the boy next door–ish. After summer break, he is taller and has cooler hair, and Nico Hiraga absolutely nails Seth's new, "awkward cute skater" personality. Changing Seth into an East Rockport local streamlines his interactions with Viv. One thing's for sure: In both versions, Viv is totally smitten with him.

    4. Lucy is now an Afro-Dominican badass.

    Lucy, wearing dramatic eye makeup and long braids, says "But I'm gonna keep my head up high"

    Lucy is played by the dynamic and scene-stealing Alycia Pascual-Peña. In the books, Lucy is also new at the school, like Seth. (Maybe only one new kid is allowed in movies, idk.) Book Lucy is a smol, bubbly Latina who just transferred from Houston, where she was part of a feminist club. On day one of class, Mitchell tells her to "make him a sandwich." I had completely forgotten about that terrible joke that was so popular until my read of Moxie.

    Film Lucy has more of an edge — she's ready to call out the outdated books being taught at school — and has zero patience for Mitchell hitting on her. Both versions of Lucy are ready to smash the patriarchy and become driving forces in the Moxie alliance.

    5. The soccer team has its own storyline.


    In the books, the girls' soccer team is a small thread. Lucy organizes a bake sale for them and registers Moxie as an official school club. The movie version plays a much bigger role. See below!

    6. There was no athletic competition in the books.

    High school's football team stands on the field behind the principal at a microphone

    I'm sorry, Texas, but I had no idea high school football was such a big deal until I watched Friday Night Lights. The same mandatory school spirit is there in Moxie. Both the film and movie emphasize how much-needed funds are given to the football team. In this case, the East Rockport Pirates don't even win games and still get new uniforms and fog machines. Meanwhile, the girls' soccer team stays winning and has been using the same uniforms for decades.

    In the film, the teams are more prominent, and there's an athletic competition scholarship. The Moxie girls won't have Mitchell run unopposed, so they nominate Kiera (Sydney Park), and it becomes a central story that brings several of the girls together.

    7. Bathrobes vs. tank tops.

    High school girls with arms around each other say to Seth, "Hey, we both went with blue; tank top twinsies"

    In the books, the principal and teachers run horrible and embarrassing "dress code" checks on girls and make them wear humiliating "shame shirts" to cover up. This drives Viv to create her second zine issue, putting out a call to action: Wear a bathrobe to class. This way, they can't be in violation of the dress code because they're completely covered up. Only a few girls take part, but it's a boost to Viv's spirit knowing that she did this.

    The film takes a slightly different angle, having all the girls show up in tank tops. One student stands up to Mr. Davis (who is much nicer and funnier in the film!) and talks about the double standard placed on girls and their bodies, especially how the onus is placed on young girls to change the way they dress because they'll be a "distraction" to boys.

    8. The funeral home date is new.

    Seth and Viv lie in a coffin together

    When Seth and Viv go on their first date in the books, she explains what "cruising the Dairy Queen" is. As someone who grew up in Queens, I also needed an explanation. When they pass a funeral home, it becomes an inside joke between them. "Cruise the funeral home" might not be an obvious date, but the movie took it there and beyond. It's humor that's a little dark, with them dancing and picking out caskets together. All it needed was some My Chemical Romance playing in the background and it would have been the date my teenage self dreamed of.

    9. The principal is a woman in the film.

    Lucy says "He's harassing me" and Principal Shelly says, "Oh, there's that word"

    In the book, Principal Wilson was Mitchell's father. He is described as the kind of man who gets off on the power he has over others and constantly silences complaints against his son. The filmmakers opted to recast the role as Principal Shelly, who is decidedly not related to Mitchell. Principal Shelly gaslights Lucy both times she tries to report Mitchell. Principal Shelly also tries to shut down Moxie activities. My theory is that making the principal a woman shows how women can also uphold and reinforce the patriarchy, and adds another layer to the message of the movie.

    10. Vivian's character gets a self-destructive arc.

    Vivian looking upset

    Vivian has a lot of frustrated rage in the books. It comes from the helplessness of not knowing what to do when a boy bumps into her in the hall and touches her without her permission. Of watching her friends get assaulted. Of being ignored by teachers. Of feeling distant from her mother. This is also in the film, but Viv's story is also given a self-destructive arc that feels as if the filmmakers are giving her a reason to crash and burn. I'm pretty sure that everything she was going through was enough.

    11. The Pirates mascot is a new addition.

    Bradley, a student who is also the pirate mascot, stands next to an athlete who says, "Thank you, Bradley. That was so amazing; thank you!"

    This is a small thread in the movie, but there's a pirate mascot, played by a student named Bradley, that serves as comedic relief and a vehicle to just get the Moxie girls in the same room. Not in the book! Sorry, Bradley.

    12. There's no central Moxie club in the book.

    Girls in the Moxie club gather in a dim room with plain, drab decorations, and Kiera says, "I think it's a man cave" as the door closes

    One thing I loved about the movie was that it speeds up the bonding between all the girls. In the book, Viv wanted Moxie to let the other girls know that they weren't alone, and she hoped the zine would take on a life of its own. In the film, the central characters get together and make an official Moxie club, still not aware that Viv is the one who started it all.

    13. The movie tries to be more intersectional but doesn't completely stick the landing.

    Viv says, "I don't have the freedom to take the risks that you do"

    As the events in the book progress, Viv thinks about how she wants Moxie to bring together all kinds of girls. Although Black girls, Latinas, and other BIPOC girls join the Moxie revolution at school, Viv doesn't yet have the language to fully explore the intersection of race and feminism — she just knows that she wants to learn — but the main storyline is still about her coming of age with Moxie.

    BuzzFeed News' Lauren Strapagiel, in writing about the movie, brings up a great point: "Moxie replicates a much-criticized trope of Black characters being included mostly in order to help white characters learn something about themselves and the world." The film does hit on important topics, like Moxie girls dealing with deadnaming, racial stereotypes, and the anxiety of being the "good immigrant." Viv's mom did tell her that one of the downsides to the riot grrrl movement was that they weren't intersectional enough. But as each of those points is brought up and then unresolved, Vivian rushes off to make a zine or clashes with the people who are rooting for her. I guess it is important just to be heard, and at the end of the movie, Vivian hands over her "mic" of sorts to other girls who have never had a voice.

    14. There's a punk rock soundtrack for a new generation.

    Punk band singing, "That girl / She holds her head up so high"

    I was once a teenage girl gutting magazines and newspapers to make collage zines while listening to Hole and the Distillers. I would also have killed for the parties that the Moxie girls throw, especially the one with the real-life teen punk band the Linda Lindas. Not in the book, but still an excellent addition.

    All in all, it was a beautiful feeling seeing so many teens come together and stand up for one another. Because Moxie girls fight back.

    Members of the Moxie club standing together and posing, smiling, and making hand signals

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