I was in high school from 2007-2011 the popular kids were cliche and not at the same time.
1. They wear AE, Aeropostal, etc; they have coach bags and wore plenty of makeup
2. They were the children of doctors, lawyers, the rich people
3. Football payers were as stupid as bricks and sometimes not the most popular. Being athletic (no matter the sport) made you more likely to become popular, something I never rightly understood. Another oddity was that many people in marching band were popular. i.e. they hardly feel under the nerdy, awkward stereotype.
4. You also described the popular students very well as that it was similar here too. ( fashionable, funny, slutty sometimes, they drink, do sexual stuff to get attention, skip class but get good grades). I always thought it was weird how many popular kids were athletic and on the A-honor roll.
The cheese growing on trees thing is funny, but I believe that could happen. There are people who are so stupid, so, so stupid and it's worse in teens.