Senior Year (2022) summary and ending explained

Netflix’s Senior Year is a teenage comedy that tells the story of Stephanie Conway — the cheer captain at Harding High who ends up in a coma after a cheerleading routine accident. She wakes up 20 years later and returns to school as a 37-year-old woman.

Plot summary

Senior Year begins by introducing us to a young Stephanie Conway (Angourie Rice) who has recently moved to the US from Australia and joined Harding High School.

She’s a nobody as her freshman year begins and only has two very ordinary friends, Martha (Molly Brown) and Seth (Zaire Adams). However, she works her way up to become cheer captain and one of the most popular girls in school.

In 2002, as the end of the senior year rolls in, Stephanie is excited to be crowned prom queen and get wild at the prom afterparty with her boyfriend Blaine (Tyler Barnhardt). However, she is vexed when she discovers that her rival Tiffany (Ana Yi Puig) — who is also Blaine’s ex — is throwing a much more lavish party at her place.

The two have an argument and head to the basketball court for a cheerleading performance. Tiffany sabotages an aerial stunt that Stephanie is supposed to perform and she falls to the floor, getting severely injured. She ends up in a coma and wakes up in 2022.

Now, a 37-year-old Stephanie (Rebel Wilson) is shocked to realise that she missed the final month of her senior year and never got to attend prom. Her dad Jim (Chris Parnell) and an adult Martha (Mary Holland) pick her up from the hospital and drive her home.

On the way back Stephanie is introduced to smart phones and also finds out that Martha is now the principal of Harding High. As they get closer to home, Stephanie recognises the streets and asks Jim to stop next to a very expensive house that used to be her dream property and represented her idea of a perfect life.

To rub salt into the wounds, she discovers that the house is now owned by Blaine (Justin Hartley) who is married to Tiffany (Zoë Chao). Distraught, she heads back home and finds her room exactly how she left it.

Feeling dazed and confused, Stephanie thinks of a memory where her mom (who passed before the coma incident) encouraged her to take control of her life. Determined, Stephanie adjusts her life goals and coaxes Martha into letting her back into Harding High to finish the final month of school.

Initially hesitant, she agrees and Stephanie — with her early 2000s knowledge of society — heads back to school. There, a lot of shocks await her.

She finds out that the titles of prom king and queen no longer exist, a lot of words like “gay” are now considered derogatory unless spoken in a positive and uplifting manner, and cheerleaders aren’t considered popular anymore.

Unable to digest these developments, she tries to get students to sign a petition to bring back the titles. During this process she befriends Yaz (Joshua Colley) and Janet (Avantika Vandanapu). Her new friends introduce her to the latest threshold for popularity — social media followers.

This is when she meets the most popular girl in school, Bri (Jade Bender) who has 3 million followers on Instagram. She turns out to be Blaine and Tiffany’s daughter, resulting in Stephanie instantly disliking her.

Unable to take the unpopular status, Stephanie convinces the cheer squad — which includes Yaz and Janet — to ditch “woke” performances and roll back the years to dance and gain popularity.

They perform a really boisterous and borderline inappropriate routine at a parents and students assembly that gets a mixed response. Stephanie gets instant Instagram recognition but the school faculty (especially Martha) are not impressed.

Furthermore, after the performance, Blaine approaches Stephanie and offers to get involved with her. She is visibly shook as she realises that all those years ago when Blaine kissed her, he was still dating Tiffany.

If you still have doubts about the ending, here’s a full breakdown.

Senior Year (2022) ending explained in detail:

Realisations

The next day, an upset Martha calls Stephanie into her office and tries to reprimand her only to be called boring and the one responsible for taking out fun from high-school.

Martha gets emotional and makes Stephanie realise that school wasn’t fun for everyone, especially her as she is gay and could never open up to anyone. Stephanie too distanced herself from Seth and Martha to make people like her.

Martha requests her friend to take it easy as only three weeks of school are left then they can all relax and move on. Guilt ridden, Stephanie agrees but quickly focuses her attention on making Blaine jealous.

She asks Seth to accompany her for a movie where Tiffany and Blaine are going to be present as well. Once in the theatre, Stephanie pretends to be on a date with Seth and talks about vulgarities, attracting Blaine’s attention.

A visibly upset Tiffany creates a racket and is escorted out of the hall along with her husband. Stephanie and Seth laugh about their little prank and continue to spend the night together.

Stephanie asks Seth if he had a crush on her in school and he confesses. However, he also mentions that he never asked her out because she always used Martha and him to gain the popular kids’ attention.

This realisation too breaks Stephanie’s heart but she confesses that becoming popular was her way of honouring her mom who told her that she could control her life as she felt miserable after moving from Australia.

Seth apologises for judging her too quickly and Stephanie asks him to be her date for the prom.

Prom titles

Annoyed with Stephanie’s actions during the movie, Tiffany asks her daughter Bri to advocate for the reinstatement of the prom king and queen titles.

She wants Bri to beat Stephanie for prom queen and humiliate her once again. This is when the movie emphasises that Bri hates being demeaning and despises her mom for forcing her to do such things.

However, she has no option as Tiffany threatens her Nepal trip if she doesn’t agree. The titles are restored and a lot of people are excited. Stephanie has a run in with Tiffany at school and the two have a similar exchange of insults like they did before the former’s accident.

Meanwhile, Tiffany also sends an invite for the prom after party to the entire school in hopes of increasing Bri’s chances of winning, which really upsets her.

Prom arrives and Seth escorts Stephanie to the dance. There, she notices Tiffany standing over the voting ballots, probably trying to sabotage the votes. instead of confronting her she asks Yaz and Janet to spread positive word about her and goes live on Instagram to ask for votes in her favour.

Suddenly, Blaine walks up and tries to kiss her but she pushes him away. Unfortunately, Seth witnesses the incident and misunderstands the whole situation, thinking Stephanie is still involved with her ex boyfriend.

The time to announce the winners arrives and to Tiffany’s utter shock, Bri withdraws her name, resulting in Stephanie winning the prom queen title. She also urges everyone to go for Stephanie’s party instead of her own.

Acceptance

An ecstatic Stephanie throws a massive post prom bash at Martha’s lake house without her permission — the keys for which Martha gave her 20 years ago. Unable to bear the embarrassment, Tiffany calls the police and informs them about the party, mentioning underaged drinking.

The cops arrive and shut the whole thing down. Martha and Seth too show up at the scene and express their distaste for Stephanie’s actions.

Bri heads home and confronts her mother about her controlling and obsessive nature, citing that social media fame is nothing if you’re miserable in real life. With this statement, she blocks Tiffany from everywhere and starts following Stephanie.

As Stephanie calls a Lyft to head home, she is shocked to realise that the driver is none other than Deanna Russo (Alicia Silverstone) — a former prom queen from Harding High who used to live in the huge expensive house 20 years ago.

The two talk and Stephanie confesses how Deanna’s perfect life was what she always wanted. Deanna scoffs and reveals that her husband cheated on her and after the divorce she was left with nothing.

Stephanie learns a very important lesson during that conversation and decides to finally accept that the ones who truly love you don’t need popularity and numbers online to be there for you.

She sells her old car and apologises to Seth and Martha on Instagram live. Tiffany too tries to make amends with Stephanie as Bri won’t unblock her otherwise and the two reconcile.

Graduation arrives and Stephanie finally passes high-school. She pays back Martha for the damages to her lake house and makes things right with her friends, kissing Seth in the process.

The film ends with the cheer squad performing Stephanie’s old dance routine (which she made Martha place in the school’s archives 20 years ago) for future generations to follow.


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