When the world meets RJ Berger and his enormous shlong on June 6, it will also be introduced to his longtime crush, Jenny Swanson. Jenny is the prototypical “girl next door” — no, not the Kendra Wilkinson kind — she’s sweet, charming and as hot as Mercury. She’s also dating the school’s biggest tool. Or, she was. When Jenny breaks up with her boyfriend and is suddenly back on the market, she goes from completely unattainable to someone RJ actually has a chance with. Yep, it’s the stuff dreams are made of.
So in honor of Jenny Swanson, we salute some other “girls next door” of film and TV history. Here are our eight favorites:
Why we like her: She’s popular, mature and hot — but doesn’t act like she knows it.
Why we don’t: Her younger sisters are annoying.
The verdict: Marcia wins the award for the top girl next door of the ’70s, and while her flaxen hair, bell-bottoms and constant smile pull us in, we can’t help but be pushed away by the undeniable fact that Maureen McCormick is kind of a crazy person.
Why we like her: Joey is the platonic ideal of the girl next door. She’s much more cute than sexy — the type of girl who you’d become best friends with before you start dating. She’s smart and funny and can banter like one of the guys. And when it comes to smiles, well, she wins.
Why we don’t: Joey’s a little sensitive and dramatic. She’s not good at getting close to people and sometimes she’s funnier than we are, which isn’t good for the ego.
The verdict: It was a stretch finding things wrong with Joey. If she weren’t married to Tom Cruise now, we’d be all over that.
Why we like her: First of all, her name is Winnie. Does it get any cuter than that? She also looks just like that girl next door — not stunning, but pretty enough that the first time you see her in Harpers Woods you go straight for the kiss. Winnie is never too unattainable but never quite attainable enough.
Why we don’t: Her real first name isn’t Winnie; it’s Gwendolyn. Sounds like a grandma.
The verdict: As cute as she was as Winnie Cooper, Danika McKeller grew up to be an even hotter adult. For maintaining her hotness and becoming a math genius along the way, we give her high marks.
Why we like her: Kelly is that rare girl who was both the school’s hottest and its sweetest. She’s athletic (head cheerleader, captain of the volleyball, swim and softball teams), smart, popular and pretty. To millions of young men across America who memorized the theme song to “Saved By the Bell,” Kelly is the girl they want to grow up and marry. Dream on, brothers.
Why we don’t: She cheated on Zack Morris with Jeff, the manager from The Max with perfect hair. Not cool.
The verdict: More than anyone on this list, Kelly was a smoking hot sex goddess whose looks never faded. We love her. Like, really love her.
Why we like her: A little nerdy and earthy, Topanga was downright weird when we first met her. And for some reason, we liked it. As she got older, Topanga became a lot less weird and lot more sexy. She’s also very loyal, a trait made clear by her decision to go to Pennbrook with Cory rather than Yale, where she was accepted.
Why we don’t: Is she an idiot? She went to Pennbrook with Cory rather than Yale.
The verdict: Topanga’s ability to so easily transform from hippie-chick into regular girl has us concerned. Might she one day mysteriously transform back? Sorry, we fear change.
Why we like her: Samantha is awkward and uncomfortable, just like we were in high school. She’s geeky but not too geeky and not afraid to drop an F-bomb when it’s appropriate. Also, did you see those panties?
Why we don’t: Like many cute girls before her, Samantha can’t be content with the nerd (Farmer Ted). Instead, she goes after the school hottie. Of course, it works out for her, but come on! Give the nerds a break for once.
The verdict: We only knew Sam for 93 minutes, but she’s endearing and funny. Thing is, she also complains too much.
Why we like her: How can you resist a girl who explains it all? Clarissa’s intelligent and fun and able to show great restraint each time she doesn’t kill her annoying brother Ferguson. Clarissa plays computer games, too, which makes her that much more awesome.
Why we don’t: Anyone who spends half their life explaining their problems to a camera must be at least a little self-centered. And she’s always got a boy climbing into her bedroom window. What’s up with that?
The verdict: For as cute as she is, Clarissa’s not quite able to achieve ultimate hotness status — and the more we think about it, the weirder it is that she keeps talking to the camera.
Why we like her: Patti’s orange skin and short blonde hair make her a vision of beauty with no equal. Sure, she always wears the same polka-dotted sweater and blue skirt combo, but it works, so why change it? She’s awesome at sports, too, including Beetball. And her voice is syrupy and sexy.
Why we don’t: For most of “Doug,” Patti’s in the 7th grade, which is a little young for us.
The verdict: She’s a cartoon, which makes her better than every other girl on this list. Plus, her last name is Mayonnaise, which provides fodder for endless bad jokes.