Not a teenage dream

By Lia Klebanov

When I was younger and thought of high school, the image of partying, dating, friends and absolutely no schoolwork came to mind. Movies and TV shows provide teenagers with a sense of false reality in a way that makes them feel as if a world without any imperfections is plausible, but, unfortunately, it isn’t. 

In the beloved “High School Musical” trilogy, the main characters spend all of their time resolving school drama and singing but are never shown doing actual homework and somehow manage to get into top schools like Stanford. It is difficult to watch such a movie and not expect to have the same experiences because if they could do it, why can’t I? However, real life is not what it seems to be in the movies, which sets unrealistic expectations for teenagers whose lives are vastly different from what they see.

UNREALISTIC SCHOOL EXPECTATIONS: High school students watch entertainment with only ideal circumstances which create false assumptions. (Illustration by Lia Klebanov)

I have noticed the hot topic of dating is repeatedly discussed in the entertainment industry. For example, the hit show “Gossip Girl” depicts a group of New York teenagers who manage to date one another in every combination possible. The show makes it appear as though dating in high school is essential to the overall experience and everyone does it, but that is not always the case. 49% of high school seniors in 2017 claimed they avoid dating, which is an extreme decrease in comparison to prior years, according to Child Trends.  

Additionally, the emphasis on cliques and stereotypes tries to make it seem like high school students only judge one another. In the movie “Mean Girls,” cliques are an essential part of the plot with the main character trying to figure out where she fits in. The montages of lunch tables shown with a specific group of people sitting and being exclusive sends a wrong message to youth. It teaches them their classmates will not be welcoming and they need to have their whole persona figured out from the start. High school is a time to experiment with various interests and try new things, but the media portrays branching out incredibly negatively. 

In reality, teenagers devote a lot of their time to different commitments such as school and extracurriculars which are not seen on screens. Parties and dating are also activities many partake in, but the emphasis on them is not as extreme as in the media. 

Even though youth today are nothing like what is shown on TV, shows like “All American” have not changed their ways of writing since mostly unattainable situations are still being included. The media should provide entertainment for teenagers not just as an unrealistic escape, but something they can relate to in everyday lives.