How real are TV teens?

By: Aidan West

   The media is an important part of how we view the world as a society and due to an obsession with teen culture, more shows are being created that try to portray the struggles of young adulthood and growing up. However, despite this decent agenda, more often than not these shows are creating a false narrative that many buy into.

   When watching a show about teenagers, you are inclined to believe that the show runners have the moral standards to portray this stage of life in an honest and humble manner. Despite this, very rarely are shows that deal with the obstacles of youth in this manner created and instead we get cliché driven narratives written by adults too far removed from high school.

“…you are inclined to believe that the show runners have the moral standards to portray this stage of life in an honest and humble manner”

   Hollywood has glamorized all facets of our existence and teenagers are no different. Very rarely do we see actual teens playing these roles but people well into their 20s masquerading as that age. And a poor masquerade at that. These actors are well-developed physically with years in the gym and a healthy diet from a personal trainer. The writing is especially egregious with pseudo-intellectual diatribes about society and how misunderstood they are. All this feels as if a middle-aged writer is attempting to write what a teen sounds like, despite not being in high school for over 20 years.

Levi D’Amato, a real teen, compared to Archie from Riverdale

   When parents consume these shows, they start to investigate their children deeper. This is because of the over saturated market of shows that feature all high schoolers as dangerous deviants that are constantly going behind their parents back. In a misguided attempt to try to display the struggles teens go through, writers have saturated the genre to be chock-full of drug addicts and sex fiends. These struggles do exist but are among a small fraction of what most teenagers will experience.

   The cliques that are displayed in the shows are also horribly antiquated. Back when Breakfast Club was released these tropes may have been more common but social complexes change over time. For example, video games were considered a niche hobby that was for losers but now you would be hard-pressed to find a guy in high school who doesn’t play video games.

   It will probably be a long time until we see a mainstream high school drama about the dangers of overburdening yourself on school and activities and for good reason. People claim they want a show that accurately portrays teens but nobody wants to remember the awkwardness that comes with being that age. In reality, a show about real teenagers would probably be boring, unfunny, and horribly awkward. Maybe there is some profundity in this idea but it does not seem very lucrative.

   Shows that portray teens are Riverdale, Euphoria, Beverly Hills 90210, Degrassi, 13 Reasons Why. Most of the tropes mentioned show up in these shows and while some recognize and try to poke fun, the result is less comedic and more just laughing in your face for continuing to watch. 13 Reasons Why and Euphoria are both shows that beg to be taken seriously but are bursting at the seams with poorly done social commentary that ultimately limit the shows to what could be an exploration of specific characters with more realistic problems or realistic characterization. The characters in the show feel so isolated from the realities of society that it makes me wonder how they are viewed in their respective high schools. The best thing these shows point out is how self-important these teens are, which is realistic as displayed through this article.


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