another teen show rant

I've been watching a lot of tv on the internet lately. Especially this school year, the scheduling of most "teen" shows [Gossip Girl; 90210; etc] really clashed with my own personal schedule, which was mostly dominated by massive amounts of chem tutoring due to my adamant demands that "chemistry is inapplicable to people with social skills and I'm pretty sure it's a massive conspiracy against the youth" ...that argument will not positively affect your grade - just for future reference.

Anyway this summer was crunch time. Every night so far, I've cranked out all the illegal sites (bad. baaaad) that provide me with my nightly fix of Gossip Girl, 90210, and even Skins (Britian's take on the teen melodrama).

And I loved every single second of the grossly exaggerated depiction of what teens lives are. But I enjoyed them despite my unquestionable knowledge that the display before me was complete bullshit...that was why I liked them. Over-exaggeration can be fun. But I'm hoping that everybody else feels that way, too. Because "teen shows"- the ones that are supposed to relate most closely to our lives- the ones full of drinking and drug use and sex - the ones that don't spare the nitty gritty- aren't actually in reality. T.V. networks just sell us the images we think are cool by saying that they are our lives - that way we feel cool and feel cool consuming their product - sex, drugs and lies. And here's how they do it:

No Parents

These kids are sophomores/juniors in high school...and apparently they're all emancipated minors living lavish life styles. Yeah, 16 year olds have parents. This is an especially salient point of Gossip Girls- the parents are there merely to serve as an additional plot line, not as the anchors of reality, or actual parents. The most parenting I saw from Lily on Gossip Girls was when she had her daughter arrested. Clap clap clap. And then Blair and Serena just decide to go to a swanky bar on a weeknight- no carding, of course, they're the elite after all. They have inconsequential sleepovers at their boyfriends' houses. No big deal.

And I enjoy watching these shows through the lens of a completely unreal, fantasy teen world. But I worry that little girls in Kansas who have never been farther than a few hours from their house won't see it that way. And maybe it's patronizing of me to think that - that they wouldn't be exposed to anything. But I think to some extent, in some places, it's the truth.

Drinking, Smoking, Sexing OH MY!

These "teens" (late 20's cough cough) drink like fish, further elevating their chance of liver damage later in life every episode, smoke cigarettes and pot, and are promiscuous as what. Yes it is true that teens actually do drink, smoke and have sex. But it's not all of us...it's not even most of us...and it's rarely at the alcoholic and addictive points displayed in these shows. It's just not the norm. You know, some of us are actually responsible and conscious about our health.

Drama, Drama, Drama

I'm pregnant...with your best friend's baby! I'm going to rehab! My mom is marrying your dad even though we've slept together and can't seem to get over it! Oh dear god. Are they serious with this shit? And there's nothing wrong with drama in what are really just glorified soap operas...but that's my point. These shows tout themselves as representing reality. And the thing is...most teens do not live each day like a party funded by their trust fund. That's just not how it goes.

Because, let's all face it, our lives on average would make a pretty freakin boring t.v. show. WHICH IS ACTUALLY FINE, IT TURNS OUT. I hear all these teens bitching about how boring their lives are, because whether conciously or not they're comparing it to the lives of Gossip Girl and 90210 which just promote irresponsible promiscuity, drug use and other dumbass moves. We watch these shows and we roll our eyes because most of us realize that life isn't like that. But then we go and strive to match it anyway.

Considering that we all know better and it has such a strong effect on us...I'm seriously worried about those girls in Kansas, the 6th graders watching, and even the parents who now think that this is what we're like. "What teens are really like" my ass.

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Julie Zeilinger
Founding Editor of The WMC FBomb
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