If you had a chance, would you go back and revisit your high school memories in person? We’re not just talking a gentle hover over them, A Christmas Carol-style. We’re talking physically acting them out and reconnecting with every insecurity, every desire, every moment of self-loathing, every heart-fluttering conversation or shattering humiliation, and even tracking down first crushes.
In Cecilia Aldarondo’s SXSW-praised HBO documentary, You Were My First Boyfriend, the director and producer works with co-director Sarah Enid Hagey to valiantly recreate her high school experience as an “emotional exorcism” in all its wonder and humiliation, sometimes playing her younger self alongside teens cast as the kids who made her life hell.
“Imagine you had a nightmare where you had to relive your adolescence,” says Aldarondo in the trailer. “My memories shine almost like a diamond, but not because I love them, because I hate them.”
If you’ve seen Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle’s PEN15 you know how mortifying and confronting it can be to revisit memories of adolescence as an adult, how disconnected our teen selves can feel from our present, but how reflection can often lead to feelings of forgiveness, acknowledgment, and self-pride amid all the excruciating cringe. We were doing the best we could!
How to watch: You Were My First Boyfriend is airing on HBO Nov. 8 at 9 p.m. ET and will be streaming on Max.