In the seminal Lizzie McGuire episode “First Kiss,” our heroine Lizzie goes through a whirlwind romance with cutie paperboy Ronnie. And then he stomps all over her prepubescent heart breaking up with her for a girl who goes to his own school (BOOOO). 12-year-old me was appalled, befuddled as to how Ronnie could break up with the coolest, funniest, most stylish girl, I don’t know, ever. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized Lizzie was the surrogate for us, the viewer. A relatable tweenage Every Girl, Lizzie’s first kiss and first heartbreak felt tremendous and monumental because it felt like all of ours. And therein lies the beauty, magic, and universal girlhood of season 2’s “First Kiss.”
The episode is relatable to this day. Lizzie, Miranda, and Gordo begin it by remarking on everyone-and-their-mother suddenly being in a relationship at their school. (Ahem, how many weddings have we all attended in the past two years?!) That’s when Lizzie meets her paperboy, Ronnie, while complaining on the phone to Miranda about the lack of eligible suitors at her school. (Again, sound familiar?) Things move quickly and soon Lizzie is wearing Ronnie’s shoe laces, passing secret notes to him via the paper delivery, and dreaming up nicknames for her new boo.
This episode has an air of magic and timelessness not just because it felt like we were right there beside Lizzie, but also because it truly captured the very high highs and very low lows of having your first love. Lizzie obsesses over Ronnie, constantly gushing about him to the irked Miranda and Gordo, she dreams up their future together, she’s giddy, and nervous, and excited. The show somehow manages to harness all those feelings in a real, authentic way. Even their first kiss was twinged in adorable awkwardness — complete with slo-mo action, of course. Didn’t all our first kisses feel like they happened in between time standing still?
Later in the episode, Lizzie’s mom clocks her impending heartbreak from a mile away. Ronnie comes by abruptly, punctuating his arrival with the most hated sentence in the English language: “We need to talk.” And while we know what’s coming, we know that on the other side of the door are people who will love and support Lizzie no matter what. We know Lizzie and Miranda will make amends, despite fighting over Ronnie earlier in the episode. Because of Lizzie’s imperfectness as a character and her rising above her heartbreak through the support of her loved ones, it was made clear in our barely-formed adolescent brains that if Lizzie could, we could. And the lessons we can take away from this episode are still applicable circa now. Even in the most painful of breakups and heartaches, the most bed-rot inducing grief, we are lovable. Now if only we could get our hands on Lizzie’s wardrobe…