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YMMV / The Princess Diaries

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Book Series

  • Acceptable Targets: Joisey in Royal Wedding, when Mia has quite a few comments on Cranston, New Jersey after going there to meet her sister Olivia.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Many people (including Meg Cabot) seem to overlook the fact that Michael not only helped Judith Gershner cheat on her boyfriend but also "jokingly" told his much younger girlfriend that he "wasn't going to wait forever" for them to have sex (even if, in context, he was turning her down for the moment).
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    • Similarly, J.P. points out several of Lilly's faults, including the ways she mistreats Mia. We are later supposed to attribute this to J.P.'s Manipulative Bastard nature trying to pit Lilly against Mia, but his points are valid. Tina also points them out more gently, namely about Lilly getting Green-Eyed Monster about Mia getting attention from guys.
    • The entire Lilly/Mia conflict in the final books is divisive. Was Mia too self-absorbed to notice Lilly's pain, or was Lilly irrationally blaming Mia for something that wasn't her fault? It depends whether you believe in the "rule" of your friend's ex being off-limits or think it's pointless.
    • As Mia points out in Forever Princess, she asked Lilly if she was okay with Mia dating JP, and Lilly said yes (she also lied to Mia about sleeping with JP). Her response? "And you believed me?" Given that her tv show is titled Lilly tells it like it is (in the books), not to mention her general personality, Mia believing her is perfectly reasonable.
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  • Angst? What Angst?: Olivia is remarkably emotionally stable for a child who's been treated the way she has. She also handles the abrupt changes in her life, including having to move across the world, with little-to-no trepidation.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Following Lilly's Disproportionate Retribution over JP breaking up with her to date Mia, and Mia being oblivious which a good number of fans commented on, she gets Demoted to Extra in Royal Wedding though she does play a small role. Also, while Mia gets Lilly back as a friend, they aren't as close as they used to be, and Lana was a much better friend to Mia during their senior year.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • In Forever Princess, Lilly mentions when Mia presses her for details is that she's being nice despite their estrangement because Michael read her the riot act for creating a hate site about Mia. It's offscreen, but Lilly was sufficiently cowed and suffered a Heel Realization. Note that a lot of characters mention the website is not only mean but would also be grounds of expulsion for Lilly if Principal Gupta found out or if Philippe wanted to press charges of harassment. J.P. admits while manipulating both girls, that Mia owes Lilly nothing because the way Lilly behaved was reprehensible, and Lilly agrees while apologizing to Mia.
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    • In-universe during Braid!, the audience reacts this way, with a Gasp!, when Rosagunde strangles Alboin after the warlord forced him to marry her after murdering her father and made her pay obeisance by drinking wine from her father's skull. As the play notes, Rosagunde had a higher alcohol tolerance and took advantage of that.
    • Royal Wedding acknowledges that thanks to Reality Ensues, Lilly is no longer Mia's closest friend. Owing to what she did and their rocky history, Mia now has Tina as a best friend and Lilly appears sporadically. They both acknowledge that the gap is there, and probably won't be fixed. With that said, she is The Atoner and makes sure everything she does is to help Mia get in contact with her half-sister while crushing on Lars.
    • Royal Wedding also has Mia and Philippe getting evidence that Olivia's relatives are abusive and neglectful when she comes home with a broken nose, explaining that her bully Annabelle's dad used red tape to stop the Royal Genovian Guard. When Catherine and Rick show no concern for Olivia's well-being, Philippe goes Papa Wolf and calls them out for not protecting his daughter or showing the basic modicum of care. Mia also insists they're taking Olivia now to see a doctor and if Catherine and Rick have issues with that, they can address the fact of using Olivia's custody money for themselves and not for her in court. Olivia herself tells off her aunt for caring more about the coffee stains in the carpet — courtesy of Mia dropping her mug when seeing an injured Olivia — than about the fact that her niece got injured. Suffice to say, Catherine and Rick cede custody then and there.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Lilly in the films. Not so much in the books, where the Darkhorse is Tina.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Mia's Wangst about Lars becoming her unwanted bodyguard in the first book seems naive compared to her summoning a Royal Genovian Guard posse for her half-sister Olivia, to protect her from Annabelle Jenkins. The guard completely fails to protect Olivia due to Annabelle's father, an Amoral Attorney, tying them up in red tape.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The books, mainly due to the cultural references, can veer into this. Like in the second book, where it's mentioned that Beverly Bellerieve is sitting in front of the World Trade Center for Mia's interview.
    • Lilly creating a hate site featuring footage from Mia's school would get her in a heap of more trouble now, given certain hate sites have led to people getting Driven to Suicide, and to cyberbullying laws being made.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Lilly becomes this in Book 10, after revealing that J.P. slept with her and dumped her specifically to date Mia after Mia and Michael broke up. Mia even says that while J.P.'s terrible behavior doesn't justify Lilly's actions, it makes them understandable.
  • Strawman Has a Point: It gets lost in the middle of all the ups and downs of book ten, but J.P. isn't wrong when he says that Lilly doesn't need a "thank-you" for doing a promotional video of Philippe's election because she owes Mia for creating the hate site. Shameeka even comments that Lilly used to be cool but hasn't been nice in ages. Even if he was responsible for the wedge in their friendship, J.P. isn't wrong. Heck, even Lilly admits that she didn't try to tell Mia the truth about J.P. because she considers the website as My Greatest Failure.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Given the amount of pop culture references made.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • The first book has this Played for Laughs with Grandmere not respecting Mia's vegetarian status. She gets mad when taking Mia to a fancy dinner for an etiquette lesson and Mia only has the fish course and dessert, saying good manners would involve eating whatever is on your plate, meat included. Mia retorts that she doesn't want to be like Princess Diana throwing up her food after eating dinner politely and would notify the chef ahead of time about being vegetarian. Grandmere does drop this after book one, and the point becomes moot when Mia starts eating meat and thus will eat it at formal dinners
    • Michael is three to four years older than Mia, and in fact graduates and goes to college come the sixth book. While the age gap is fairly small and wasn't that remarked upon at the time the books were written (other than emphasizing the pair needed to wait until Mia was older for them to start having sex) changing opinions on emotional maturity and teenage sexuality mean it's now rather creepy to read about an eighteen year old boy regularly kissing a fourteen year old girl, since Mia only turns fifteen halfway through the story. Though what makes it worse is him pressuring her for sex while she's underage, and Mia honestly feels she isn't ready. As Laser-Guided Karma would have it, Mia breaks up with Michael after learning that he slept with Judith Gershner and never told her about it. Michael only sleeps with Mia when she turns eighteen and admits he messed up by helping Judith Gershner cheat on her boyfriend and not telling Mia about it.
  • Wangst: Mia veers into this at times. Possibly justified in that the story is written from entries in her personal journal, and it would make sense for her to be inwardly over-dramatic. (This trope is the source of several Funny Moments in the series.)
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Michael never telling Mia that he wasn't a virgin, while wanting to have sex with her while she's underage. Given Mia is a health freak, telling her right when she was about to initiate their first time was the worst possible mistake he could make in ruining their relationship. While Mia blames herself for acting immaturely to the news and breaking up with Michael, Michael admits that she was right to call him out for it.
    • JP dating Lilly to get closer to Mia, with Lilly falling in love with him and telling him so. When he does break up with her once Mia is available, he makes the mistake of telling her that it's to date Mia to her face and gambling that Mia's Accidental Kiss of him would make Lilly too angry to inform Mia of what he said. When Mia learns the truth, Beware the Nice Ones doesn't cover it. Mia immediately breaks up with him and gets his upcoming play cancelled, and Michael nearly turns JP into a "Cream of Wheat".
    • Similarly, Lilly not telling Mia what happened, creating a hate site about the Princess instead and severing ties. She admits later on that she was "psycho" about it, but if Lilly had simply told Mia, Mia would never have tolerated JP's flirting and their friendship wouldn't have suffered such a rift.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?: Lilly constantly berates Mia throughout the series and goes so far as to create a hate site dedicated to her. With that in mind, the lengths Mia goes to restore their relationship in Princess Mia seem unrealistic; by the time Forever Princess happens, she gives up and is surprised when Lilly starts being nice to her after two years of cold civility. Lilly lampshades this in the last book, saying what she did was unforgivable and didn't know how to apologize.
  • The Woobie: Mia in Book Nine and Tina in Book One.

Film Series

  • Awesome Music: Quite literally, at the end of the second film; the Genovian national anthem, which had been somewhat silly in the first, becomes a stirringly performed, patriotic, and indeed almost profound piece of music as Mia is crowned queen.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Jonny Blu singing a Chinese cover of "Miracles Happen" in the sequel.
    • An even bigger example is the scene where the maids attempt to distract the Grandmother for the Princess... by singing "Frère Jacques", dancing, putting pots onto their heads, and then taking them off and clanging them together while singing, "DING DANG DONG! (clang!) DING DANG DONG! (clang!)" It's absolutely surreal in its own right, comes out of nowhere, its never discussed again, and seems so random and out of place that the sheer "WTF face" shown by Julie Andrews is mimicked by everyone in the audience who sees that scene.
  • Dancing Bear: The sequel was heavily promoted around the fact that Julie Andrews would sing for the first time in seven years.
  • Fridge Horror: Mia is fifteen years old in the film. The newspapers published pictures of a semi-nude fifteen year old and another of the same girl getting forcibly kissed.
  • Genius Bonus
    • Paolo's description of Mia's Big Ol' Eyebrows.
      Paolo: I love your eyebrows, I shall name them Frida and Kahlo. If Brooke Shields married Groucho Marx, the kid would have your eyebrows.
    • In the second film, Lilly calls Brigitte and Brigitta Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
  • Girl-Show Ghetto: The franchise is mocked specifically for being girl-oriented (and being about a princess no less) - usually attacked for its Wish Fulfillment nature. The Nostalgia Critic seemed determined to tear into the sequel for this reason.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The part with Prince William in the second movie becomes all the funnier once the Royal Wedding comes to mind.
    • Mia, who is played by Anne Hathaway, hoped to have Prince William as her future husband. Anne goes on to play Prince William's then-fiancée Kate Middleton on an episode of Saturday Night Live.
    • In The Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement, when Chris Pine's character is shown the "easy way" to win at darts, he objects with "That's cheating!". Cue Kirk and his approach to the Kobayashi Maru scenario in Star Trek (2009)...
    • Stan Lee's cameo in the second film, which actually predates Disney buying Marvel.
    • Also in Royal Engagement, Chris Pine's character is referred to as "an almost-Prince Charming" at one point. In the 2014 film version of Into the Woods, Pine plays the Prince Charming.
    • Mandy Moore bullying a princess in a Disney movie, considering she would later voice an official Disney Princess in Tangled. And like Mia, Rapunzel does not know she is a princess at first.
    • In The Devil Wears Prada, Anne Hathaway once again has to undergo a makeover and gets a best friend called Lily who objects to it.
  • Memetic Mutation: A strange tiktok trend in 2020 had people playing the audio of Sandra Oh's Principal Gupta character answering the phone and announcing the Queen's arrival...over videos of themselves picking up their cats and using them as phones.
  • Narm Charm: Lana's comeuppance is getting ice cream smeared over her cheerleading uniform - with a ridiculous overreaction. It still doesn't stop it from being an Awesome Moment for Mia, or hilarious for the principal turning a blind eye afterwards.
  • Never Live It Down: Lily is often outright hated for her meaner actions in the first half of the film which, while a bit excessive, were brought on by suspecting that her best friend is lying to her. It's often forgotten that the point of her Character Development is being a supportive friend to Mia (she comes to her defence in class, joins her when she gives Lana her comeuppance and goes to the ball specifically to support her). After finding out she's a princess, the only times Lily is mean is when Mia has actively hurt her; forgetting to tell her she was not going to be on the cable show, which humiliates her on the air. Lily also gets offended on her brother's behalf when Mia blows him off to go to the beach party with Josh (who then humiliates her).
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Sandra Oh has a handful of scenes as the principal in the first movie, but her fangirl reaction to Clarisse coming to the school sure is memorable.
    • Then there's the nun who witnesses Mia crashing into the trolley, and tries to call 911. When they put her on hold she says "for the love of God!" - not appearing past this moment but still hilarious.
    • Charlotte has minimal screentime but in the editing the director found that her reactions were usually great for scene transitions - even naming her Charlotte Kutaway in the credits.
    • Stan Lee's cameo. And before anyone thought about Disney buying Marvel.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: The movie tones down Lily a lot from the books, and some fans preferred the change.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • The Scrappy: Nowadays, Lily is not well-liked for being such a terrible friend. She tells Mia she should be over her father's death (which only happened two months ago), she relentlessly mocks Mia's makeover, and she threatens to stop being friends with Mia unless the latter reveals her status as a royal to her. Although Lily did make one good point (getting angry with Mia for ditching her for the popular kids, who are worse), many viewers wondered how Mia could stand to be friends with her.
  • Sequelitis: The Royal Engagement is not too well liked. It diverges completely from the books and falls heavily into the Girl-Show Ghetto.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Clarisse is portrayed as too harsh for getting angry at Mia for (unintentionally) embarrassing the family . While yes, Clarisse was indeed too harsh, she's not completely wrong for at least feeling mortified, considering that Mia was going to be the princess of a whole country in a few days. Princesses are usually supposed to be portrayed as classy, so having those moritfying photos of Mia in only a towel in the newspapers for everyone to see would do a damage to the image of Mia's family. This is lampshaded by Joseph.
    Clarisse: You're saying that as a queen I was too harsh on her?
  • Testosterone Brigade: It's not uncommon to find male fans of the first movie - from guys who admitted to crushing on Anne Hathaway and Mandy Moore, and finding it still quite funny. The sequel is usually considered more of a Chick Flick.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: It is mentioned that Phillipe had an older brother, Clarisse's first son and Mia's uncle, that abdicated in favor of joining the clergy, though after that he is never mentioned again. It would have been cool to have a scene in which Mia met him, and that he might have attended her wedding.
  • Unfortunate Implications: The book's characters Josh Richter, Lana Weinberger, and Frank Giannini have their names respectively changed to Josh Bryant, Lana Thomas, and Patrick O'Connell for the movie. There doesn't seem to be much reason for this other than the replacement names all sound more acceptably "white".
  • Unnecessary Makeover: The Hollywood Homely Mia has to get a makeover because she has glasses and a ponytail curly hair. On the other hand, she's clearly unhappy with her appearance until her makeover. And bear in mind, her makeover was more suited for a public figure than a high school student. It also doesn't help that, as Kevin Murphy put it in A Year at the Movies, the primary result is that she's "de-ethnicized," with every trace of Jewish heritage covered up – although neither Mia nor Anne Hathaway are Jewish, the negative portrayal of her frizzy hair and glasses that emphasize her nose size definitely has some Unfortunate Implications.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • A few viewers believe that it was foolish of Mia to accept Josh's invitation to his beach party when she already had plans to make an appearance on Lilly's TV show. Mia says she simply forgot to cancel on Lilly.
    • Mia for trusting Lana and her friend to stick to their word when she was changing her clothes at a party can also count.


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