It’s 2002. Jenna Rink’s thirteenth birthday. Her friend Matt presents her with an intricate dream house, which he made. By hand. You see, Matt knows Jenna like nobody else. He knows that she loves Poise magazine, and accepts this because she also likes cool stuff like Weezer. He also knows that Jenna wants to be just like Tom-Tom and her mean girl pals, who are not nice to Jenna at her party. Also, they made him turn off his favorite band, Phish.
It’s hard always having to choose between Tom-Tom’s girl gang and good old Matty, and Jenna wishes her adolescent trials could be over! If only she had an easy life, like a thirty-year-old. Being thirty must be awesome! Wishing dust falls from the dream house onto Jenna’s head, and everything fades away.
Jenna is awakened by a soft smacking sound. She opens her eyes to see that a Milano cookie-sized bug has fallen onto her duvet. Alarmed by Jenna’s screams, four grown-ups tumble into the room. While Jenna hyperventilates in a corner, her adult roommates begin a lively debate about water bugs, palmetto bugs, and cockroaches. Jenna sees in the mirror that she is an adult woman with breasts. Just as she’s getting to grips with this, she notices a heaping pile of bills on her nightstand. Surprise! It’s 2019, Jenna!
Jenna rifles through the envelopes in a panic. A roommate — formerly Tom-Tom, now Lucy — slaps her across the face. “Pull yourself together! Repeat after me: I’m Jenna Rink. Contributing Writer for Poise magazine. Bartender. Dog walker. Lyft driver on weekends. I can’t afford to break down right now.”
“Wait, what?” The blood drains from Jenna’s face.
“Hurry, Jenna! Do you want to get laid off?”
They head out the door towards the PATH train.
“Where’s our car?” Jenna says.
Lucy laughs into the wind.
Jenna and Lucy fight for communal work stations, but they’re all taken. Older people yell at Jenna and nothing makes any sense. It seems that journalism is dead, and for some reason, she is to blame.
Fearing for her sanity, Jenna flees the building. She passes a storefront window filled with flatscreens, all showing Donald Trump in an ill-fitting suit. He’s streaming together random words in a furious tone. It’s not quite English. It sounds deranged and dangerous. A frothing crowd behind him erupts in mindless chants. SNL must be really leaning dark these days. But is it a sketch? A woman comes on screen and clarifies his belligerent nonsense, while maintaining that he is 100% correct.
“Is anything frigging real? What is this?”
Lucy appears at her side.
“That’s how we all feel, Jenna. All the time.”
Jenna pukes into a manhole.
Jenna runs home to Jersey City, dogged all the way by terrifying texts from her student loan and health insurance companies. At one point, a dick pic is airdropped to her phone, a sentence that makes zero sense. Safe in her building, she invites a neighbor’s child to hang out, wear bras over their shirts, and sing “Jagged Little Pill” from start to finish.
“Fuck no!” the girl says. “Jagged what? Who even are you?”
There is only one person who can help — Jenna’s true friend, Matt. She finds him living with his parents. Jenna shivers in the doorway, while Fox News blasts from several strange devices all around the house. His dad’s Lay-Z-Boy is adorned with an NRA beach towel. She shivers again.
“Matt, do you still like Phish?”
“Phuck yeah!” He reveals a tattoo on his forearm that says PHOREVER.
He sure has a lot of arm hair now.
“Matty, what happened to us?” Jenna asks.
“Well, after friend-zoning me for years, I realized women were just naturally heartless and manipulative. Have you seen a documentary called The Red Pill? Here, let me show you…” Jenna backs away, trembling. On her way out of the house, Matt’s dad asks if she’ll donate to their GoFundMe, to help pay for his new teeth.
It’s time for Jenna and Lucy to present their pitches at work. Only one of them can save Poise. Lucy goes first.
“A think piece called ‘Did Millenials Murder Thinkpieces?’ An opinion piece called ‘How Millenials Slaughtered Opinion Pieces.’ A personal essay series called ‘I Dessicated Personal Essays: A Millenial Confession.’ We’ll call it ‘Media Suicide.’”
“Yikes. No,” their boss says.
It’s Jenna’s turn. She mumbles softly about getting back to the heart of journalism, high school yearbook style. With poorly composed pictures of regular people, and the stuff they like. And balloons.
Jenna’s boss is silent. At last, he speaks: “That is also bad.”
Jenna returns to her parents’ house. It’s a poignant scene. She asks her mother if she has any regrets.
“Fuck yeah,” her mother says. “I regret the sub-prime loan we used to remortgage our house. Now we have your room and the basement on Airbnb. It’s a constant stream of creeps. But how else were we going to help pay for your journalism degree?” She hopes Jenna’s glamorous city life is worth it.
“It sure is, Mom,” Jenna whispers.
Jenna sits on her front lawn in despair. If only she could go back to 2002! Just then, Matty emerges from his home next door. “Good luck finding anyone who knows you as well as I do, Jenna!” he sobs, before hurling his old dream house at her head. Jenna chokes on wishing dust.
Suddenly Jenna is in her old basement, “Island in the Sun” pumping from the speakers, Baby Matt staring at her. Wiping wishing dust from her handkerchief-hem dress, and the boot-cut jeans she’s inexplicably wearing beneath it, she lurches for the stairs.
“Where are you going?” Matt cries. “Are you hurrying forth into a future where you become my wife?”
Jenna keeps running. She knows that Matty and Tom-Tom are not her only options. She’s off to find the theater kids, or the Harry Potter freaks, or the choir dorks. Once she’s made some real friends, Jenna will figure out how to warn everyone about the financial crisis, prevent Russian election interference, and win a Nobel Prize. Then just for fun, she’ll develop a bunch of apps before anyone else does, because, duh. Wouldn’t you?