One of my favorite things British people ask me, an American, is about high school in the US and whether it is as the movies suggest. Does The Cheerleader really date The Quarterback? Does it actually matter where you sit at lunch? Are cliques real? People who play sports are cool???*
Basically, yes, as the the best and most-enduring films of this genre show. However, these films are accurate up to that certain point where an entirely accurate depiction of an American high school would leave the audience snoring in minutes.
That is to say, high school in suburban America is:
Superbad, without the incompetent cops.
Clueless, without the awesome 90s wardrobe.
Dazed and Confused, with more hazing lawsuits.
Grease, with less singing and choreographed dancing.
10 Things I Hate About You, without the beautiful campus.
Napoleon Dynamite, with fewer majestic horses.
Friday Night Lights, but only in Texas.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High, especially in California.
Advantage: US, because our dull high schools inspired these movies.
*Americans, apparently playing sports for your school team in the UK is not nearly as cool as it is here, it is actually considered pretty nerdy because it shows allegiance to your school. Then again, someone who listened to a lot of Joy Division in high school told me that.