Drama in the Valley
My love affair with trashy books began with Sweet Valley High, a serial about life for impossibly blonde twin girls living in Southern California. While Elizabeth Wakefield was sweet (her best friend was a girl named Enid!), literate (she wrote a gossip column for the school paper), and grounded (she dated the same guy who never seemed to put the moves on her to put out), Jessica Wakefield was flirtacious (a new guy in every book, I swear), superficial (she eschewed studying for shopping and going to the beach), and ambitious (if she wasn’t after a guy, she was concocting some bullshit scheme to get famous and/or rich quick). They lived with similarly attractive parents (who, when you think about, sounded like they resembled the parents on Family Ties) in a community which seems to resemble Laguna Beach, but with less obscure names than the kids on the current MTV hit (c’mon, what kind of a name is Talan, anyway?).
Starting with one series created by the legendary Francine Pascal, the franchise evolved into several different series — the twins in junior high! The twins go to college! Elizabeth actually lives in London by herself! There was a short-lived tv series starring the adequate Brittany and Cynthia Daniel who, as the Wakefields, never seemed to quite nail the melodrama that kept me intriqued as an eleven year old with thick glasses, no tits, and enough baby fat to keep me out of a bikini until, well, now. The franchises were fine, but I suggest reading the original series for a bit of sunny fluff to cure the winter blues.