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Growing up, I genuinely did enjoy the classic teenage dramas on television, particularly when I was in middle school and first starting high school. 

And frankly, I think that is the age where these dramas are most effective: they plant this image of what high school is like into your brains before you actually experience the mundane rituals for yourself.

After starting college, however, and leaving those routines behind me, the desire to spend hours watching episodes of high school dramas is no longer present, and actually is rather exhausting to think about. 

A very obvious issue here is that there simply are not many tv shows that focus on the college experience. This is likely due to the fact that high school is a much more universal experience, which is completely valid, but as we separate further from our adolescent days, many of us want to watch something on tv that is relatable to the college era, even if that means that the characters do not actually go to college. Most tv shows, whether sitcom or drama, either focus on high school, or jump to the navigation of the late 20s and middle-aged family life. There’s a huge gap that is missing in between. 

And even if we do choose to settle for the high school-based shows, there are several, complicated issues that arise when viewing. 

For one, the actors playing these young characters are often significantly older than the roles they portray.

While this is clearly just a casting issue, and I do understand the desire to settle for good acting over accuracy, it detracts from the sense of relatability that these shows desperately crave. I am constantly pulled out of this fictional universe every time I notice these 30 year olds-pretending to be 15 and worrying about passing their driving exam. 

 

Degrassi was notorious for hiring amateur actors who were very close in age to the roles they played, and, while I still have issues with some of the show’s dynamics, I think this is something to applaud on their part. The acting was certainly less polished, but it felt more genuine as many of the actors felt as though they were aligned with the problems they were showcasing in their characters. 

And that brings me to the second biggest issue: the actual problems that these tv shows address. 

Many of these teen shows, namely Degrassi and Euphoria, tackle very important and relevant issues to the teenage experience. I am fully supportive of the inclusions of issues such as mental health, LGBTQ+ perspectives, drug addictions, relationship violence, teenage pregnancy, etc. because they ARE important issues.

But, in portraying these very serious problems, they execute them in a frustrating and problematic manner. 

For one, they plant all of these massive, heavy issues onto one friend group. While the topics addressed certainly do occur to high school students, the likelihood of all of them experiencing these all at once is very slim, and again, pulls me out of the reality that these shows want to convey.

For another, it seems like many shows, particularly ones like Euphoria and 13 Reasons Why, tend to glorify mental illness and substance abuse. Again, these issues ARE important and SHOULD be talked about, but the execution of them is where they falter in my eyes. Far too often they are showcased as some sort of aesthetic, versus actually working to tackle them. 

Do I think these styles of shows are going away? Absolutely not. But, I hope that the creators of these dramas can begin to alter the way they showcase them, and hopefully, make content that is more relatable, authentic, and honest.

Lauren Serge

Ohio U '23

Lauren Serge is currently a junior at Ohio University, majoring in Journalism: Strategic Communication and specializing in Marketing and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is the current President and Co-Campus Correspondent for the Her Campus OU chapter. She enjoys writing, biking, spending time with her family, friends, and her dog, as well as catching up on her many favorite tv shows.
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