The Reality of Teen Shows

After watching many movies or shows about high school, people may have unrealistic expectations. They may think it is full of huge parties all the time and very little work. (Photo used with permission of Unsplash)

The shows many teenagers watch today are completely unrealistic: Vampire Diaries, Outer Banks, Riverdale, Gossip Girl, Gilmore Girls. They all have many aspects that seem a little problematic when you think about it. 

Have you ever looked up how old the actors who play 17 year olds actually are?  Riverdale star Camila Mendes (Vernonia Lodge) was 24 years old when she played a highschooler. Outer Banks actor Chase Stokes (John B.) was 28 years old in season 1 and Rudy Pankow (J.J.) is 23. While these actors and actresses may be talented, they do not fit the role they are meant to play — they are not truly representative of who teenagers really are. 

Not only are they fundamentally more physically mature, but they create these ideas for teenagers of what they should look like. “It can give the message that they’re supposed to look good all the time,” said clinical physiologist Barbra Greenburg in a Teen Vogue interview. Watching these beautiful people on screen creates unfair beauty standards — now many teenagers think they must look like the people in these shows in order to be popular and cool. Do all teenagers, or just people in general, have perfect hair and skin? No, but after watching these shows it may feel like it. Can everyone eat extremely unhealthily and never work out but still have beautiful figures as the main characters in Gilmore Girls do? Definitely not. 

More than just potentially causing body image issues, many times shows will promote stereotypes that are already ingrained in our minds so we may not even notice. There are countless examples of this, one being the way basic troupes are carried out over and over again. The nerdy, shy, unpopular guy who has glasses and never gets any attention. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed popular girl who everyone loves. “There’s the jock that actually has a heart of gold on the inside…he likes music or something. Then there’s always the rich one that’s like, complaining about how they have problems too,” said Olivia Corbett, a senior at LRHS. 

For those living in the reality that is normal life, we know high school is not completely the way it is portrayed on television. In Glee, the cheerleaders wear their uniform to school everyday. The “sophomore lock-in” in Ginny and Georgia is very over-the-top. In Gossip Girl people dress in designer clothes for school everyday, and they also have an unbelievable amount of time before school and in between classes. “They never really go to class, and they hang out in the hallways for hours at a time. Or they go to drug and alcohol-fueled parties every day, during the school week,” said Corbett. 

Despite all the flaws with television today, many argue they are just fun to watch and used to decompress from the stress of daily routine. This is often true, and watching these shows is not really a bad thing, as long as we keep in mind the reality of the situation. As long as viewers remember these sorts of teen dramas are not a reflection of what real life is or should be, we as a society can keep them from truly influencing our lives and actions. And who knows, maybe one day the television industry will change and these things will not be a problem anymore. 


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