Recently, many late-20’s television-junkies have been tuning-in (and highly recommending) more sitcoms on the teenie-bopper network, MTV, than the other “age- appropriate” channels they frequent. When pondering the reasons behind this seemingly “arrested development” devotion to teen dramas, streaming a few network notables- such as Awkward, Finding Carter, and even Teen Wolf –finally offered clarity for the attraction. Simply stated, these shows are real. Yes, there are outlandish hook-ups, over-the-top embarrassments, and filled with overwrought teen angst; but at heart, these programs reveal a well-rounded portrayal of life’s circumstances that relate to both teenagers and general human beings alike. The characters in these series deal with a variety of human conditions that reveal unique perspectives and revelations about maturely confronting the adolescent- or growing pain- experiences of existence. With the return of Awkward and Faking It in Fall, let’s analyze the four scripted MTV show-stoppers to add to the roster this year:
1. Teen Wolf- Out of the 5 shows viewed, Teen Wolf was one of the gimmickiest, which could have drifted into the outlandish world of True Blood – which eventually caused the latter to cancel. However, the main characters keep the series humanly grounded by correlating most of the fantastical drama around fitting in/ protecting a facade. The main character, Scott, tries to repress his true “warewolfy” self to lead a normal high school life- only to eventually realize he cannot smother his identity, but maintain it, with help from his accepting friends (mostly Stile). This is a powerful portrayal for confused high school students, or any person, who feels like a freak dealing with an internally, losing battle on his/her own. The series realizes the freedom afflicted individuals can experience if they surround themselves/ seeks support from friends who accept their intricacies.
2. Faking It- A tale of two best friends who fake a lesbian-relationship to win a vote for Homecoming Queen is seemingly a testament to high school desperation; however, the show offers unique insight into early sexual awakening which is a modern inspiration. During the course of the relationship, character, Amy, starts copping some lusty eyes for her pseudo-partner, Karma, which reveals her inclination towards homosexual experimentation and discovery. Once realized, this series reveals a more organic revelation of sexuality from confusion, to bi-partisanship, then eventual acceptance which happens much faster than in previous generations. With the growing understanding of homosexuality, the drama displays a sharp/quick coming-out process that would have been shamed and repressed in previous generations. A message the entire population should recognize/ applaud.
3. Awkward- This program has all the elements of redundant, teenage trash- i.e. boyfriend dilemmas, girl dramas, frenemies, creepy teachers; but at the core, the show is rooted in pragmatic evaluations of these stereotypical co-ed ordeals. With her blog and voice-overs, Jenna is able to process all the hardships in her life and eventually intellectualize them or, at least, put them into perspective for creating coping skills during future manifestations. At any stage in life, humans are faced with seemingly overwhelming stressors that clog our minds from seeing a path to the finish line, let alone a teachable moment to chronicle, but Jenna displaying strong therapeutic processing skills is a tangible model for everyone to emulate within the entertainment of her dismay.
4. Scream- Just like the films, Scream the TV Series, portrays a parody on horror films and becomes overly satirical; but unlike its predecessor, the show reveals the unfolding of real crimes and necessary precautions taken against threats faced in the modern world. Virgins are not the only ones targeted anymore! Any bully, valedictorian, or general wallflower could be next on the hit-list, simply depending on who crossed an unstable individual with the appropriate resources. In society with mass/ public murders occurring more frequently, understanding the risks and indentifying potentially threatening behavior, is a skill that should be instilled within both naive teenagers and dismissive adults.
5. Finding Carter- A rightfully, angsty teen drama referencing a poignant topic in current sensationalized culture: recoveries of kidnapped children. Unlike media portrayals of victims reuniting with their biological families, Carter portrays a conflicted teen who feels more disconnected, skeptical of her actual parents than the woman who stole her as a young child. In a very multi-dimensional, trauma-laden facet, the series reflects the true experiences of all victims/ perpetrators alike, which offers a full picture of the lengthy, communal healing process that occurs post-captivity. For adolescents, the drama raises consciousness of this dynamically taboo topic; for adults, it offers deeper psychological insight into the individually emotional and combined societal experiences of the phenomenon- which must be empathized for effective, appropriately targeted recovery.
In a generation riddled with public awareness regarding the early development/ prevention of many ill-adjusted individuals, MTV’s efforts towards societal understanding of common emotional/ behavioral phenomenon provides an all-encompassing human understanding of how to analyze these conditions appropriately within each stage of life.