For a long time, high school students have been stuck with the typical labels – jocks, princesses, nerds, divas, geeks, dweebs, rejects, etc. In recent years, these students have now branched out from their stereotypes. As high school senior Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) explains, now jocks play video games, the princesses are on anti-depressants, and the nerds are in charge. We then see Bianca walking down the halls with her two best friends – Jess (Skyler Samuels), an aspiring fashion designer, and Casey (Bianca A. Santos), a tough hacker girl. All the guys drool over Jess and Casey, but nobody ever really acknowledges Bianca.
The school’s ruthless mean-girl queen bee Madison Morgan (Bella Thorne) invites Jess and Casey to a party at her house, and deliberately chooses not to invite Bianca, until Casey makes it so that there’s a free invitation. Here, we also meet Bianca’s neighbor and former friend Wesley Rush (Robbie Amell), captain of the football team and Madison’s on/off boyfriend. Bianca also has a crush on a guy named Toby (Nick Eversman), but she is too scared to say more than two words to him.
Bianca’s teacher Mr. Arthur (Ken Jeong) assigns her the task of writing an article for the school newspaper on the upcoming homecoming dance and what social life means to her. She reluctantly agrees to it.
At home, we meet Bianca’s mom Dottie (Allison Janney), who became a successful author after her divorce. She was inspired by an episode of “The Simpsons” to create a book on the five stages of dealing with divorce. She, along with Jess and Casey, convince Bianca to go to the party, despite her hesitance.
At the party, Wes runs into Bianca and asks her if Jess and Casey have mentioned him or are interested in him. Bianca says it’s not her job to divulge information on her friends, to which Wes argues that it is as their DUFF. Wes explains to a confused Bianca that it stands for the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”, and that a DUFF is there to make their friends look better by comparison. They are approachable enough for someone to ask them about their hot friends, and Bianca fits this role. Offended, she throws her drink in Wes’s face. She goes home alone feeling insecure and self-conscious.