13 Sneaky Ways TV & Movies Taught You How To Be An Adult

Photo: Isabella Vosmikova/FOX.
In Keira Knightley’s new film, Laggies, her character has a quarter-life crisis after attending her 10-year high school reunion and realizing that she hasn't really changed that much. We’re used to seeing these types of breakdowns on screen — and even more used to them being played out in an overly dramatic fashion. In the end, the characters just sort of even out, and you wonder if anything has really changed at all.
We’re gathered here today not to discuss humdrum crises of conscience, but to celebrate the kick-ass moments in life when you realize that yeah, you’re becoming a mature adult. They’re not the most exciting moments in the world, but doing something sensible that you know will pay off makes you feel alive in an entirely different way. For example, I recently felt like Jack screaming on the bow of the Titanic when I signed up for a credit card with 2% cash back. Now, I'm actually spending money to make money, and I'm the king of the goddamn world.
These triumphs of the seemingly trivial aren't nearly as prominent on film and TV as stories of arrested development, but they do exist. When you start noticing them, you realize that your favorite characters have been helping you feel your way towards baller, self-actualizing adult behaviors this entire time.
Here are 13 moments that’ll help you skip the quarter-life crisis and celebrate your newfound maturity. Look at you, signing up for auto bill pay. You're an adult now.
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Cut yourself off — literally

In the Friends pilot, Rachel runs away from her life as a pampered, Daddy-supported rich girl when she decides to leave her fiancé at the altar. With the support of Monica and the gang, Rachel cuts up her credit cards, both literally and symbolically severing her ties from her father and declaring herself financially free. It’s a move that’s as terrifying as it is empowering.
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Photo: Isabella Vosmikova/FOX.
Doing your taxes may not be glamorous, but it’s necessary

On a recent episode of The Mindy Project, viewers learned that Mindy hasn’t been paying her taxes for the last six years. What follows is a much more interesting turn of events than what would really happen if you skipped out on the IRS for years. Mindy’s adorable ex-boyfriend helps her sort through the financial troubles (noting how much money she spends on waxing in the process), and it all works out in the course of a 22-minute television episode.

Moral of the story: Do your taxes, or it could put your whole OB/GYN practice in jeopardy.
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Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
Know what you want (and how you want it)

Everything we know about ordering in a restaurant, we learned from Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. “I’d like the chef salad, please, with the oil and vinegar on the side, and the apple pie à la mode. But I'd like the pie heated, and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream but only if it's real; if it's out of the can then nothing.”

This specificity in desires can also be applied on a more general level to most things in life.
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Declare your dreams

So, you want to be a writer/musician/artist/landscape photographer/macaroni sculptor. But, your parents want you to go into a practical field with financial security and a dedicated job track. At a certain point, you have to tell the parental units that you hear what they’re saying and know that it’s coming from a loving place, but you want to pursue your chosen field because you believe in your talent. Despite all of her stymied attempts at adulthood, Hannah Horvath makes this leap quite well in the Girls pilot.
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There's no need to be a cash money millionaire

There will always be different gradations of wealth, but adjusting your personal definition of financial security (and what it means to be rich) is a sure-fire sign you're coming into your own, maturity-wise. I don't need a Black AmEx, just one that doesn't get declined at CVS, thank you very much. Nick Miller from New Girl knows exactly what I'm talking about.
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You can't escape debt

You also can't lie about it. On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall can't wait to buy an apartment with Lily. Unfortunately, she's been hiding mountains of credit card debt from him, meaning their ability to get a mortgage will be limited. When you legally wed someone, you also take on their debt. It's a fun fact about marriage that's not frequently discussed on TV.

Oh, and if you are planning to buy an apartment, the "DoWiSeTrePla" episode of HIMYM also contains the helpful hint to do all the necessary due diligence, such as figuring out what the trendy neighborhood acronym means. In this case, it's Downwind of the Sewage Treatment Plant.
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You get your clothes dry-cleaned — awkward stains be damned

Listen, sometimes you have a great night with someone you met in a club, and the repercussions are some fluids on your clothes. Sure, it’s awkward when your dry-cleaner is a lifelong friend of your family who wants to play detective and lick the stain. It’s even more uncomfortable when a nun from your elementary school walks in with a field trip of eager kids just dying to get to the bottom of stain-gate like in The Sweetest Thing. At the end of the day, though, a girl’s gotta have clean clothes.
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Just say "yes"...to your true desires

Sometimes, you need to party 'til the break of dawn to feel alive. As you get older, though, you learn that you're also content throwing your hands in the air and waving them like you just don't care — while sitting on your couch wearing pajamas. Yes to Liz Lemon's life philosophy on 30 Rock.
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Don't bring your personal problems to work

After a particularly rough break-up, take a few days off. Your coworkers will understand; they've all been there. What you shouldn't do is pull a Tom from (500) Days of Summer, and start expressing your sadness in the form of greeting cards you're paid to write. Even if they do move you to the sympathy division.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Be smart about money

We all remember the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie realized her entire savings had gone to stocking her closet. Her shoes were beautiful, but they wouldn't keep her warm at night if she got kicked out of her apartment when her building went co-op.
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No one actually enjoys cleanses

But they're one of those things you have to try for yourself to find that out. On Happy Endings, Penny Hartz did a cleanse and summed up how we all feel on the other side.
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You acknowledge your metabolism

It doesn't have to be in the negative way that most women's magazines depict it. Instead, let's all reflect fondly on grown-up Mike O'Donnell in 17 Again, who realizes that one of the things that comes with being a teen is a massive appetite. Be one with your current rate of digestion; at least it means you don't feel the need to inhale Cheez Whiz constantly.
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Haters gonna hate

Don't let them keep you down. You do you, like Samantha Jones did Samantha Jones on Sex and the City.