I Used To Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story – Summary, Review (with Spoilers)

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I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story discussing what makes a boyband fan and their love for them affected their lives.

Director(s) Jessica Leski
Written By N/A
Date Released 9/17/2019
Genre(s) Documentary
Good, If You Like
  • Documentaries
  • Boybands
Noted Cast
Herself Elif Cam
Herself Dara Donnelly
Herself Sadia
Herself Susan Bower

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I Used To Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story – Summary

“It’s an era, and you’ll have it…. everybody has it.  Go for it because this is a time in your life when you really need to scream and yell and cry and all of those things.  It’s a release, and it feels so good”
— Susan Bower.

Director Leski speaks with 4 boyband fans throughout I Used to Be Normal:  A Boyband Fangirl Story. There is Elif, a 16-year-old high school student from Long Island, New York who loves the group One Direction. Secondly, we have Dara, a 33-year-old Brand Strategist from Sidney, Australia, who loves the group Take That. Third, Sadia, a 25-year-old writer living in San Francisco, who loves The Backstreet Boys. And lastly, we have Susan, a 64-year-old Film Producer from Melbourne, Australia, who loves The Beatles.  You learn what turned them onto their specific group and why, to this day, they still love them.

The boyband mania, Dara points out, started off with Beatlemania back in the early 1960s and she breaks down what main components make up what turns young girls into a fangirl (Boyband Theory). Some of the requirements include: The age range of 17-21, with between 3-5 boys in the band.  They sing songs about having fun, good times, and being in love; sex is not implied or overt (Boys-to-Men groups aren’t included due to songs like “I’ll Make Love to You”).   The personalities include types like “The Mysterious Boy” (example Zayn Malik, Robbie Williams, John Lennon), “The Cute Boy” (ex. Mark Owen, Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake), ”The Sensible One” (ex. Liam Payne, Gary Barlow), “The Sexy One” (ex. Harry Styles, usually has their shirt off) and “The Forgotten One” (ex. Jason Orange, Howie Donald).  They have an element of musicality, a linking look in their clothing style, no beards, no brother bands count (like The Jackson 5 and Hanson because they grew up together with a music background).


Other than seeing video clips of some of the boyband groups’ songs and choreography, interviews and of adoring fans, I especially enjoyed seeing what memorabilia the women saved.  Especially seeing what Susan had in her collection of Beatlemania. Also, a highlight of the film were cute animated segments which brought to life some of their fantasies about having a personal relationship with one or more members of the group.

But beyond simply being fans, it was also interesting to see how the women were able to incorporate their fan girldom into their careers.  Saria used to write Backstreet Boys newsletters, and now she is a writer. Susan is a film producer, who is currently working on a writer’s script having to do with women whose mothers were Beatle fans in Australia. Dara incorporates Take That music in the presentations that she does for her clients and Elif was inspired to be a singer-songwriter.

Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)Recommended

Watching the film brought back memories of boy bands from my childhood, especially regarding one of my favorites, The Jackson 5.  When they became The Jacksons, and when Michael was still with them, I got to see them in concert, twice.  Even then, you had the screaming fans, and though I wasn’t a screamer, I was very happy to see them. Hence why I can understand the love these women had for their boys and how they are still a part of their lives today. For, like my childhood favorites, when I hear their old songs, it brings back a good time feeling and a smile to my face.

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An avid lover of stand up comedy, documentaries, films which frequent TCM, and old school television, Tiwanna has spent decades in pursuit of discovering the new and admiring those who paved the way and connecting the sometimes starkly different generations of creators.

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