Netflix’s The Princess Switch has taught me a lot about the universe. For instance, while watching the movie where ordinary-brand Vanessa Hudgens trades places with a more aristocratic version of Vanessa Hudgens, I learned Vanessa Hudgens is not very good at doing a vaguely British accent, but very good at pretending to be bad at doing a vaguely British accent. I learned pastry chefs can have sous chefs and that it’s possible to go through life with a superhot best friend who is also your sous chef (who looks like this) without developing romantic feelings for him, if you are normal Vanessa Hudgens. I also learned that you can puree things by hand if your rival at an international baking competition cuts the cord on your standing mixer and that your puree will still impress the judges at an international baking competition, at least enough to win said international baking competition. But most of all, The Princess Switch taught me all sorts of things about a wondrous, Christmasy land — one full of magic and mystery. The Princess Switch taught me everything I know about Chicago.
I know what you are thinking: What is Chicago? Thankfully, expert baker Stacey de Novo (Vanessa Hudgens) is here to explain things to the reclusive Duchess Lady Margaret (also Vanessa Hudgens), and also to us. Afterward, you — much like the reclusive Duchess Lady Margaret — may respond with “wow.”
Chicago bakeries do good business around Christmas, but not so much so that you can’t abandon them for an unspecified amount of time in order to travel elsewhere.
After getting an invitation to compete in the Christmas baking competition in Belgravia (a very real place I am sure you know a lot about), Stacey insists that she can’t just close up shop before Christmas. Later, after a run-in with her ex that inspires her to be spontaneous, she decides to close up shop before Christmas because she can.
Chicago is a place where people wear “Chicago” hats.
Early in The Princess Switch, Stacey de Novo dons a blue hat with “Chicago” written upon it in cursive pink lettering. Even though this hat does not specify a sports team or other Chicago-related thing, no one mentions that this is a weird thing for someone from the city named on the hat to wear in the city that is named on the hat. Perhaps she is worried she will forget the name of the major metropolitan area in which she lives and need to check the hat for reference.
Chicago’s children’s ballet programs are not as good as those in Belgravia.
Stacey de Novo is very insistent that her hot platonic sous chef’s daughter attend the Belgravia’s summer ballet program, and is willing to switch identities with Lady Margaret to guarantee that happens. Based upon this information, we can assume that no one in the greater Chicago area is or has even been good at ballet and could teach the kid about it there — Chicago is a plié wasteland.
Chicago is home to “vulgar American divorcées.”
One of them hooked up with Lady Margaret’s distant cousin Cecil and is probably Stacey’s ancestor, which explains their resemblance. Taking this into account, the people of Chicago probably all have recessive genes, which would explain why the phenotype of “looking like Vanessa Hudgens” would persist outside of Lady Margaret’s doubtlessly intermarried aristocratic family.
Pastry sous chefs from Chicago are really hot.
I just feel a need to reinforce this point.
It is easier to master a Chicago accent than it is to adopt an aristocratic European one.
Only this can explain why Vanessa Hudgens is better at one accent than the other.
If you wear a Chicago hat, people will assume you are also from Chicago.
This is a photo of Lady Margaret posing as Stacey de Novo. I know you might find the difference obvious, but to people from Chicago who aren’t Stacey’s hot sous chef’s daughter, who is unfoolable, the illusion is complete.
It is a big deal if you give up your royal engagement to marry a girl from Chicago.
Not to spoil things, but at the end of The Princess Switch, Prince Edward realizes he was actually falling love with Chicago’s own Stacey de Novo and decides to marry her instead. In keeping with her Chicago values, Stacey insists this simply isn’t done. “I’m not a duchess or a princess,” she says. “I’m a baker from Chicago.” Luckily, Prince Edward promises she can still bake in places that are not Chicago, and Stacey relents. The people of Belgravia seem to have no problem with this, because being a baker from Chicago pretty much confers the status of royalty.
As someone who has never been to Chicago outside of layovers in the O’Hare International Airport, I want to thank The Princess Switch for teaching me so much about the magical city. I am not sure why it chose to center its plot entirely around Chicago — according to Wikipedia, Vanessa Hudgens was born in Salinas, California, and has no meaningful connection to the city, even though she gives a masterful, lived-in performance — but it certainly has been an educational experience. In the next installment in the Switch franchise, I can’t wait to see what else we learn about Illinois.