Frustrated with repeated incidents of mistaken identity, Reid recently rambled to explained to the NY Post, “It’s so crazy. I looked at my Twitter and people were telling me ‘You’re a wrong, bad person!’ I was like ‘who did what to who? You’ve lost your mind.’ I was like, ‘no way – it’s not me! You’ve got the wrong Tara!’ Are people that stupid? I mean, c’mon… I’ve done a lot over the years, but not this.” Clarifying. Sometimes life really does imitate art. In a related story, on hearing this quote the Trump administration immediately reached out to offer her a speechwriting job.
She does make one cogent point; she has most definitely done a lot over the years. After starring in a few small roles on TV and in movies – including the aforementioned Bunny, the half-sexpot half-MacGuffin in the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski, who offers to… please… The Dude for a thousand dollars – Reid really broke out in 1999’s megahit American Pie, in which she played to a classic “wet blanket girlfriend” trope in portraying Vicky, objectively the worst character in the series. In a franchise that features Stifler. And the MILF guy. And a guy whose entire bit is that his name is Sherman and he replaces “Terminator” with “Shermanator” in various references to the Schwarzenegger flicks. Between those non-jokes, the tacit approval of spying on naked women, and the desperate backward approach the films take to sex, we’re really beginning to wonder about the national sense of humor in the late 90s. This line of thinking would be hit hard by Superbad a decade later which, while problematic on its own, skewers many of the notions of late-90s teen coming-of-age party movies.
Despite later appearing in numerous movies and tv shows of varying quality, Reid never really got over the hump in Hollywood. Famous enough that people still clearly think of her at the mention of a similar name, a series of bad decisions and bizarre personal incidents – including botched plastic surgery and what appears to be two abandoned engagements and two fake engagements – would eventually find Reid relegated to the high numbers on your cable box. Which is where she found an unexpected series of gargantuan (in non-premium television terms anyway) hit movies.
Fueled largely by social media, the deliberately absurd, knowingly stupid, and completely fun in a “how did this ever get made?” way, SYFY’s Sharknado series of films burst onto the scene in 2013. The premise is an all-time Hollywood elevator pitch, this sentence already taking longer to set it up than the pitch itself. “People fight to survive when live sharks caught in a tornado wreak havoc on Los Angeles.” This movie somehow spawned five increasingly batshit sequels through 2018. The Wikipedia entry for the final installment, The Last Sharknado (I sincerely doubt it), reads like the excited story a six-year-old would tell you if you fed him LSD. The plot prominently features time travel as a solution to devastation caused by a Global Sharknado from the previous film. So, the point is… Sharknado movies are as well-written as the MCU? Ah, shit. By the time we left her, things had gotten so totally absurd that Reid’s character had died and been resurrected, had a laser installed in her arm, and could fly via rocket boots in her shoes. Which we’re realizing now is basically Ironman… oh, come on!
While it’s fun to imagine women everywhere being able to fight off attackers with a light saber that comes out of their hand, it’s probably important that we stop mixing these two women up. As public and silly as her career is, Tara Reid the actor doesn’t deserve harassment from morons on social media. Similarly, Tara Reade the accuser deserves to have her story heard and evaluated free of additional absurdities. So, get it straight, internet.
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