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Literature / The Girls Series

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A series of books by Jacqueline Wilson, aimed at teenagers, following three girls through their third year of high school as they deal with the issues of teenage life. The series includes subjects ranging from everyday problems, to very serious things.

The main characters are Ellie, the narrator, an artistic girl with image issues; Nadine, Ellie's gothic childhood best friend, with something of a wild streak, and Magda, a confident and popular girl who befriended them at the start of high school.

The books are:

  • Girls in Love: The girls all deal with having their first boyfriends, but Ellie and Nadine both have some problems.
  • Girls Under Pressure: Ellie develops an eating disorder, Nadine gets a chance to be a model, and Magda's good looks give some people the wrong idea.
  • Girls Out Late: Ellie gets her first real boyfriend, while wishing she could stay out later, and Magda and later Nadine make some unwise decisions.
  • Girls in Tears: Ellie's relationship is struggling, Magda is upset over losing her pet, and Nadine gets an Internet boyfriend.

The series was given a Live-Action Adaptation, called Girls in Love, which ran for two seasons between 2003 and 2005.


This series provides examples of:

  • Attempted Rape: Ellie and Magda manage to save Nadine in Girls In Love.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the television adaptation, Ellie - whose characterisation largely revolves around her weight and other looks issues - is played by the pretty Olivia Hallinan.
    • Dan is described as a spiky-haired bespectacled nerdy boy who is younger and less mature than Ellie in the novels. This description is not the case in the show.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Eggs to Ellie, Natasha to Nadine.
  • Cardiovascular Love: The Heart Symbols on the cover of Girls In Love.
  • Career Versus Family: It is mentioned that Ellie's mother gave up a promising career as an illustrator to take care of Ellie. In one book Anna's career causes friction with Ellie's father, although it's later resolved.
  • Career Versus Man:
    • In Girls Out Late, the girls are upset when they discover that their favourite pop star is ending her career because her boyfriend was jealous of her success.
    • Ellie herself has an instance of this when she feels that Russell is not supportive of her ambition to become an illustrator.
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  • Crappy Homemade Gift: In "Girls Under Pressure", Ellie mentions that she makes all her Christmas gifts and the reception is mixed, with Magda expecting something more shop-made. However, when Ellie stitches stuffed toys for her friends in the present day, they genuinely enjoy them and Ellie's negative attitude towards them is positioned as part of her eating disorder angst.
  • Date Rape Averted: Magda fights off a would-be date rapist in Girls Under Pressure.
  • Dirty Old Man: As it turns out, Ellis.
  • Dude Magnet: Magda. Girls Under Pressure reveals this upsets her to some extent, since guys only want her for a bit of eye candy.
  • Easily Forgiven: Magda and Nadine can be horrible to Ellie at times. However, Ellie quickly forgiving them for getting them all trapped in an apartment with three strange men at the end of Girls Out Late really takes the biscuit.
  • Eat the Evidence: In the TV series, when the girls are caught passing notes in art class, Nadine eats the note rather than have to read it out.
  • Ephebophile: 17-year-old Liam turns out to be one of these. He nearly coerces thirteen-year-old Nadine and even younger Vicky into having sexual relations with him, and is mentioned to have gotten another pregnant.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up: Magda and Nadine reluctantly convince Ellie to go to a "party" at the home of a guy they've just met, but it turns out to be just him and a couple sleazy friends - who try to grope the girls and offer them alcohol and drugs. In order to get Magda and Nadine away from the men so the girls can sneak out together, Ellie hides in the bathroom and lies that she needs her friends to help her because she is so drunk she threw up all over herself.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Ellie's brother Eggs, which is a nickname for Benedict.
  • Fat Idiot: Inverted. Ellie, who is described as being overweight, does not always use her common sense, but it is shown several times that she is far more intelligent than her two skinny friends, Magda and Nadine, especially when it comes to meeting boys.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: In an episode of the TV series, the girls take revenge on Magda's ex by doing this. They steal his togs while he is in the shower at the pool, and then remove all of his clothes from his locker.
  • Good Stepmother: Anna and Ellie have a good relationship, though Ellie admits that wasn't always the case on her side, and the two frequently confide in and support each other.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Ellie is embarrassed about her weight, and expresses some D-Cup Distress as well.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The 4 books of the series use a "Girls [verb] [noun]" pattern: Girls in Love, Girls Under Pressure, Girls Out Late, and Girls in Tears.
  • Important Haircut: After experiencing Attempted Rape, Magda gets her hair cut into a short, unflattering style and dyed back to her natural color, believing that this will stop boys from assuming she will sleep with them. When she regains her confidence, she gets it cut again into a better style, and dyed bright red.
  • Just Friends: Ellie insists than Dan is this throughout most of the first book and first series of the live action version, even though he insists differently.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Magda.
  • Loving a Shadow: In the first book of the Girls series, Ellie falls hard for Kevin, an older boy she has seen around town but never really met or spoken to. She later develops a relationship with Dan (a boy her own age) and has to accept that Kevin will never live up to her romantic fantasies as he is gay; however, Ellie and Kevin do form a genuine platonic friendship. When Dan later dumps Ellie, she wonders if her perception of Dan was just a fantasy.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Natasha and Eggs; lampshaded in a scene where they dress up in each other's clothes.
  • May–December Romance: Ellie's father is in his 50s while his second wife Anna is still in her 20s. Also a former case of Teacher/Student Romance, since they met when Anna was one of his art students at college.
  • Missing Mom: Ellie's mother is dead.
  • No Sympathy: Nadine and Magda can be guilty of this toward Ellie.
  • Offscreen Breakup: Ellie and Dan in the TV series. The first series focuses on their relationship, ending with them getting together, but by the second he's just ... gone. He's never even mentioned, and Ellie says she's never had a relationship before.
  • Only Sane Man: Ellie, very frequently.
  • Passing Notes in Class: Happens in an episode of the TV series, with Magda passing a note to her friends about her crush on the teacher. The teacher catches them, but Nadine eats the note rather than have to read it out to the class.
  • Relationship Reboot: Ellie and Russell at the end of Girls in Tears.
  • Sadist Teacher: Miss Henderson. Though she ends up more of a Stern Teacher.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Magda in the TV series, which kept her outgoing and cheeky personality from the books but gave her a Race Lift.
  • Second Love: Russell for Ellie. Ellie's relationship with Dan ended when he met his Second Love, Gail.
  • Show Within a Show: In Girls in Tears, Nadine has become a fan of a fantasy TV series called Xanadu, an obvious pastiche of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess.
  • Stout Strength: It isn't dwelt on, but in the second book, after Ellie bumps into Mick after he pretty much assaults Magda, and he starts calling her a slag, she hits him hard enough that he appears scared of her next time they meet. She is thirteen, he is some years older, so she must be pretty strong if she actually managed to hurt him that much.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: In Girls Out Late, Magda attempts to start one of these with Mr Windsor. He is not happy with this. Also, Ellie's father teaches adults in an art college, and both of his wives were originally his students.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Nadine:
    • In Girls Under Pressure she attempts to go to a photography session by herself that will literally be just her and the photographer (he turned out to be legitimate, but still).
    • At the end of Girls Out Late, she agrees to go off in a van with three strange guys. Magda and Ellie also go along with this, although Ellie was only doing it because she didn't feel she could abandon her friends while they were being so stupid. Magda was swinging between the two reasons to go.
    • Finally, in Girls in Tears, she goes to meet her internet boyfriend, who, predictably, is not who he says he is, and has to be saved by Ellie and Magda once again.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Ellie considers that her father and Anna fit this trope.
  • Weight Woe: Ellie. She develops an eating disorder in the second book, and still has issues in the rest of the series.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Ellie and Dan in the first series of the live action version, where he has a larger role. They do, but he's disappeared by the second series and is never mentioned again.
  • With Friends Like These...: Ellie's friendship with Nadine and Magda can come across this way. It's believable that the friendship survives, but Ellie does need a lot of patience.
  • Women Are Wiser: The main characters believe this, with Magda and Nadine often making derisive comments about 'schoolboys', despite the characters only being 13/14 themselves. The series repeatedly demonstrates that Magda and Nadine are not wise in the slightest.