Modern TV shows inaccurately represent teen culture


Sydnie Bierma

A side by side of Hunter Chen in Ginny & Georgia in the halls tap dancing compared with a quiet hallway at WVHS. The display of a musical like production is inaccurate.

Drama TV dominates the television industry for many reasons. It provides its audience with a source of entertainment, as well as a distraction from the real world, but the question is how realistic are the teens that are represented in modern TV shows. Many shows on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Peacock, Showtime, Amazon, and other streaming services often categorize teens into extreme stereotypes and normally cast actors that are years older than the part they’re actually playing. This confuses the targeted audience and can make students feel out of place in their own high school.

A new drama series currently being produced on HBO is “Euphoria”–starring Zendaya, who in the show is an extreme drug addict. “Euphoria” is a show heavily focused on substance abuse in high schoolers. Drug abuse is definitely present in high school, but not to the extent that’s depicted in the show. 

While 46.6% of teens will have tried some sort of illicit drug by the time they graduate the 12th grade according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, a mere 2.8% of adolescents reported misusing opioids in 2018 concluded from the American Addictions Center website. Although substance abuse is very present in high school, opioid abuse is much less widespread and not as relatable for many teens.

I don’t feel represented at all.

— Anna Burkhead

Even though TV shows aren’t supposed to represent every individual’s characteristics, they most definitely should be slightly realistic to better involve their audience. When asked about the matter at hand, WVHS student Anna Burkhead stated, “They should represent us as normal people.” She almost feels boxed in by the stereotypes depicted in her favorite shows.

On the total opposite end of the spectrum, some TV shows represent high schoolers in an almost childlike sense. For example the drama series on Netflix, “Ginny & Georgia,” displays a young girl who is pursued by two different love interests. To win over Ginny’s heart, her boyfriend at the time breaks out into a tap dance routine in the middle of the hallway. The ironic thing is that this series isn’t classified as a musical, yet Netflix included a huge grand gesture that wouldn’t normally take place in high schools across America. 

Another thing that’s slightly problematic in “Ginny & Georgia” is the slang language that’s used. Phrases like “that’s so lit” aren’t commonly used among high schoolers nowadays. Having a show this far off from a high schooler’s daily life almost seems as if it’s poking fun at juveniles. Burkhead again mentioned that, “Adults seem to see us as overly childish, which is ironic because high schoolers are essentially adults.” 

As stated previously, not all aspects of modern TV are inaccurate in comparison to teens’ daily lives. The drama series “Gossip Girl” focusses on a group of teens from the upper east side of New York. WVHS student, Miguel Tejeda specifically mentioned the first few seasons of the show when the high schoolers are applying to their dream schools is very relatable. The application season is a very real process shared amongst high schoolers across the country. It’s a stressful yet exciting time. 

He did mention however, “It isn’t the most relatable because not all of us can apply to those rich and prestigious schools.” This is again another slight misrepresentation and generalization of a large portion of teens. 

There’s snippets in almost every TV show of a high schooler’s reality; however, the fragments of reality are much fewer than the fantasized version of high schoolers in many modern TV shows. To conclude, Burkhead claims that when she sits down to watch a show, “I don’t feel represented at all.”