Part 3: Idealisation of Life
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.
Many popular high school series centralise their narrative on how the major character(s) interact with others, friendship and relationships often driving the action and drama. Though relationships with peers are relatable to many, the presentation of these relationships on TV can be problematic. One example of this is the portrayal of the BFFs, two characters who are inseparable and will always be in each other’s lives. If friends have problems they are often quickly resolved or easily forgotten; only featuring when crucial to the narrative. These series simplify the struggles and pressures of life, pushing that friendship and love alone can defy all else.
In terms of romantic relationships, characters are often pivotal to the narrative due to their relevance to their partner. A writing favourite of high school series is the best friend turned lovers’ narrative; a presentation of two friends (usually of opposite sexes) who eventually realise they are in love. While this trope isn’t 100% inaccurate, the frequency that an audience is presented this message would make you believe that every friendship between two opposite sex people will end up like this, and that definitely is inaccurate.
TV shows idealise this idea of falling in love with your best friend so much that they place the emphasis on relationships rather than friendships. Viewers are taught to strive for love, at the cost of friendships if this is what it takes, teaching younger audiences that love should be the end goal always. Reality check: your life is yours and you should be the main character in your own story, not a partner. People, especially young people, need to understand they should be happy with themselves and are no less worthy for being single.
Although in 2020 we have a wide variety of high school specific TV shows to indulge in, we should not settle for the content we are given. High school series are enjoyable, easy watching and fun but they are not accurate. Presenting themselves as realistic representations is harmful to younger viewers who feel inadequate as a result, wishing their life was more like their favourite TV show.
But we mustn’t forget that is all it is, a TV show, not a guide to life.