Houston Matters

‘Reality Bites’ At 25: Did It Portray Houston And Gen X Accurately?

Film critic Joe Leydon reflects on what the movie said about Houston and Generation X.

Reality Bites - Houston Skyline
A scene from the 1994 film Reality Bites showing the Houston skyline in the background.

The film Reality Bites opened in theaters 25 years ago this week.

If you’re a member of Generation X like Houston Matters host Craig Cohen, you may wax poetic from time to time about a bygone era filled with scruffy hair, angst-ridden grunge, plaid flannel shirts, and a general attitude of disaffection.

Or, at least, that’s what popular culture tried very hard to tell us Gen X was all about.

And perhaps no film represented that perception better than Reality Bites.

Reality Bites - Houston Rooftop
A scene from the 1994 film Reality Bites filmed on a rooftop in downtown Houston.

The film tells the story of a group of recent college graduates trying to make their way in the world.

Aspiring filmmaker Lelaina, played by Winona Ryder, is torn between two men – her pensive yet aimless friend Troy, played by Ethan Hawke, and the more successful yet compromised Michael, played by the film’s director, Ben Stiller.

They and their friends try to navigate life after college in ‘90s Houston. And a good portion of the movie was filmed here (screenwriter Helen Childress went to high school here).

In the audio above, we revisit Craig’s 2013 conversation with area film critic Joe Leydon about what the movie said about Houston – and about Generation X.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the Senior Producer for Houston Matters. He has a degree in journalism from Abilene Christian University and has served as news director for NPR and PBS stations around Texas and The West, including: KUNR-FM in Reno, Nev.; KNPB-TV in Reno, Nev.; and KWBU-TV/FM in Waco, Texas. He...

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