Why We Need More Realistic High School TV Series: Part 1

Part 1: Unrealistic Expectations

This series explores the range of issues found with high school TV series which are for the most part unrealistic, the impact these have on viewers and the need for more relatable content for young people to watch.

We all love a new series which focuses on the lives of a group of teens as they venture through life and school. Series such as Riverdale, Gossip Girl and 13 Reasons Why have all been successful in satisfying our drama needs whilst focusing on their school setting.

But many of these successful series have plots based on unrealistic events and scenarios which results in the audience questioning why they cannot relate to what they are seeing on screen. Our realities are often so far from this portrayed version of school that we feel we have missed out, they do not mirror the experiences we had, but do they mirror anyone’s?

Although TV series offers the chance for escapism and an entertaining watch, there are issues which arise from TV networks being bombarded with unrealistic representations of high school life – especially for younger viewers.

With entertainment media comes drama, and high school series are often overwhelmed with dramatic scenes, characters and plot. Regularly, writers feel the need to include multiple ‘big’ events to drive the narrative and ensure maximum dramatic effect. However, this is far from realistic. Viewers who are of similar age to the characters on screen can feel unfulfilled with their own lives and high school experiences.

What these shows often fail to explore is the everyday life of high school. In the eyes of high school students, small aspects of school like friendship break ups, failing an exam or having a crush can feel like momentous life events – so why don’t writers focus on the importance of these events?

TV shows could easily become more relatable if they focused on real and common struggles that teenagers go through, instead of reaching for dramatic, far-fetched storylines. Teenagers need to relate to the content of shows and the characters’ lives, not feel as though they are watching the lives of teenagers from another reality.

Graphic courtesy of Georgia Hunt

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