Consummate dilettantism!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

High Schools in Teen Dramas

I feel like Mugatu in Zoolander (emphasis added):
Mugatu: SHUT UP! Enough already, Ballstein! Who cares about Derek Zoolander anyway? The man has only one look, for Christ's sake! Blue Steel? Ferrari? Le Tigra? They're the same face! Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills! I invented the piano key necktie, I invented it! What have you done, Derek? You've done nothing! NOTHIIIING! And I will be a monkey's uncle if I let you ruin this for me, because if you can't get the job done, then I will!
[flings "M" shaped shuriken at the Prime Minister]
Mugatu: Die, you wage-hiking scum!
It seems that nobody notices that high schools in teen dramas and movies almost invariably look and seem like college campuses. The 'kids' all have perfectly polished faces, the males all have beards, people are sitting down on the grass outside of the school (I go to high school, and I can assure you that nobody does this), the teachers have odd pseudo-English accents, and all of the students, even those straight out of 8th grade, look like they're in their 20s. It's ridiculous. Proof? Search YouTube for Dawson's Creek, My So-Called Life, One Tree Hill, &c.

Most college campuses, in fact, probably don't look like these high schools. The only shows I have seen that portray high schools accurately are those on Nickelodeon, the kids' TV channel; these include Zoey 101 (with respect to the ages of the kids, not to the pseudo-collegiate atmosphere), for example. One reason's obvious; to make teen dramas good, TV studios need to get college graduates to play kids in high school. Nickelodeon's shows need not live up to that standard, and so Nick hires actual kids to play these roles.

But I think there's more. I think in the minds of TV executives, there's this idyllic picture of what high school's actually like, and it sort of resembles college. See this video of O.C. clips, for example. The characters, all of whom could easily pass as college grads (and I'm sure many of them are), are dancing around, partying, and having oddly dramatic and weird interactions. High school, at least for me, is not like this nonsense at all.

Solution? How about "college dramas?" Honestly, they'd be a lot more believable.

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