I think the whole “coming of age” genre is one of the most popular genres in any form. Whether it’s literature or shows, the theme of growing as a person has always brought people in. Stories of kids maturing, living life and growing up are easily recognizable, and many people can see themselves in these stories in one way or another. I personally love coming of age stories; they’re relatable, give me interesting outlooks on life, and always have great soundtracks.
Some of my first exposure to it was through John Green books, and I know that there are a lot of opinions on those books, but they were extremely popular when I was in middle school. I read “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Paper Towns” and “Looking For Alaska.” At the time, I didn’t process the themes of those stories like I do now, but they impacted me greatly growing up. It made me not want to be someone who wasted my years doing mundane things. I guess the coming of age genre is very idealistic because not everything shown in the genre would be something regular young adults would do. I think for me, though, I internalized the themes without realizing it. Stories of adventure, friendship and hope struck me.
I have read a lot of books in my life, but I will admit that “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” really is a remarkable book. I know it’s probably one of the best-known coming of age stories there are. I had actually watched the movie before the book. Because I really liked the movie, I had borrowed the book from my cousin. I don’t think I could even cover all the themes in that story because there are so many, but themes of relationships, self-discovery and transformation of the characters all had resonated with 15-year-old me. I think as I grow older, I realize I had internalized all these ideas without understanding it. But takes on love and growth as a person and gaining confidence all ended up working in my favor.
Aside from books, I enjoyed coming of age movies and shows. I just wanted to mention the show “SKINS” for two reasons; it was extremely popular, and the cultural impact it had on the internet. The British show about a group of high schoolers gained a lot of controversy for its explicit content but was praised for its realism. I think that novels can be much more in-depth, but shows and movies can portray coming of age very well. “SKINS” had gained a massive following and was extremely influential online on social media sites. I watched it not too long ago, and while it’s obviously an older show, it’s very enjoyable and funny. I feel it’s harder to relate to because of the cultural differences, but I could still see myself in many of the characters. Now, I would say “Euphoria” is the most prominent coming of age show. It showed parts that I felt I could understand from when I was in high school. Movies as well are extremely influential like “Lady Bird,” “The Breakfast Club” or “Booksmart.” Portrayal on the screen matters because seeing stuff you can relate to on the screen connects really well. If it’s portrayed poorly, then it won’t leave the same kind of impact it was going for.
Many of the themes from coming of age had helped me grow, and I didn’t even realize it. I actually decided to write this because I saw the “Looking For Alaska” show had aired on Hulu around a year ago. You see these stories of people changing, and growing up and you want that for yourself. These grand adventures or road trips they go on are something you want. Nobody ever wants to stay in their hometown. I know that there are cons of the genre, which I completely understand. However, for me, this is probably the genre that has shaped me. It gave me many important life lessons without me realizing it, and knowing this now at 19 is honestly crazy. Something about it is so magical, which is odd wording considering it’s far from fantasy. I think there’s magic to growing up and leaving a place behind to explore somewhere new. I’ve taken much inspiration on my outlook on life from this genre as well, and it has helped change me and keep this optimistic outlook on life.