Does The CW Even Know What Teenagers ARE?

Before we get going this morning, I’ve got a guest post over at The Bookish Type about why fairy tale reboots are so popular.  Stop by and say hi!

So after all the comments to my last post about the CW’s The Secret Circle, I decided to at least give it another shot.  I’m up through episode 4 now.  Whatever superficial similarities the show bore to the book (which were few and far between) have totally evaporated.  The plot isn’t remotely the same.  So I’m trying to give it a chance as it’s own thing, but MAN there are some things about this (and most other CW shows) that really IRRITATE ME.

Like this whole thing going on between Melissa and Nick.  Why aren’t they making out in the backseat of a car fully clothed and just trying to get to Minor League second base (I say Minor League because apparently the whole baseball analogy has gotten a lot further along these days than back when I was in high school)?  When did it become okay to show teenagers having a sexual affair and acting exactly like adults with their own place?  Where they sleep over without having to avoid parental entanglements (and yeah, Nick lost both his parents, but in the books there was an uncle or a grandparent or SOME guardian)?  Where it’s just accepted that they’re essentially F*** buddies, which is totally the vibe I’m getting from this portrayal, no matter how they seem to be trying to semi-redeem Nick the bad boy.  And let’s just not even get into how he treats Melissa like crap and she lets him.

Susan made a recent post about this in relation to The Vampire Diaries, where she talks about Elena and Stefan going away together for a romantic weekend at the lake, and Elena just breezes in and tells her over-permissive-I’m-too-cool-to-be-responsible guardian aunt that she’s going.  “Okay!  Have fun!”  That was, incidentally, the point at which I said adios to TVD.

What.  The.  Hell.

There is something SERIOUSLY WRONG with our society if the message that teens (and adults for that matter) are getting slapped with is that sex is no big deal.  It’s all good.  It’s all fun.  It’s all normal.

No, it absofreakinglutely is NOT.  It’s BIG.  It’s IMPORTANT.  And it should damned well MEAN SOMETHING, not just be a means of scratching some physical itch. I don’t give a damn what your hormones may be screaming at you.

What happened to the days of Buffy?  It was a BIG EFFING DEAL when she and Angel finally did it.  And there were consequences of epic and demonic proportions.  Not saying the world should end every time our teen characters finally come together that way, but have it do something to CHANGE THEM and ADVANCE THE PLOT.  Not just as a means of having gratuitous shots of well-sculpted boy-man chests.

Thankfully I am MOSTLY not seeing these kinds of displays in actual YA fiction.  Sure, there’s sex in much of it, but it’s usually not graphic or it’s glossed over or implied and usually it MEANS SOMETHING.  That’s become kind of an accepted thing.

So why the heck are we seeing such a graphic and radical extreme in YA TV?  I mean, I know that these shows are meant to appeal to a wider audience than just teens, but for the love of Pete, do they not think that we adults can be entertained by a show without random, gratuitous sex?  Please.  Do something radical and present us with something resembling a PLOT.

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22 comments

  1. It’s almost as if the producers, writers, etc. are afraid a show won’t last if there’s no sex. They’re afraid that we all HAVE to see sex in order to be entertained. Sex just for the sake of “scratching the itch” as you put it, does NOT entertain me. I want a build up of emotions, two people feeling something really big between them. Sex should only happen after that, and sometimes not even then.

    Are our teenagers today really this promiscuous? The ones I know don’t seem to be. Will these shows make teenagers think this kind of casual sex is normal?

    1. I think shows like this absolutely normalize casual sex. And God forbid they show potential consequences (and I mean beyond pregnancy or STDs…I’ve yet to see a show that deals with the EMOTIONAL consequences–oh right, that’s because Hollywood doesn’t think emotion should be involved in sex apparently). I certainly don’t think that ALL teens are this promiscuous, but I definitely think there’s even more pressure now than there used to be for teens to “go all the way” and it’s happening younger and younger. One of my grad school classmates talked about the pressure her TWELVE YEAR OLD was getting in the SIXTH GRADE. I’m pretty sure I thought boys still had cooties when I was 12.

  2. My husband and I jokingly refer to Vampire Diaries as VD for this very reason. Those kids sleep around so much that if a dose of the clap got stared in Mystic Falls, every teenager would be sitting at the clinic squirming in those hard seats. VD also turns me off with the permissive teenage drinking and pot smoking. But oh well.

    Now, onto SC. Like you, I was totally shaking my head at Nick and whats-her-name. His aunt was supposed to be his guardian. I couldn’t believe she’d let that go on in her home. At the very least, I’d tell the kid “This is not a frat house. Take your **** buddy to a motel room.”

    It’s a relief to hear someone else say they can’t believe what is being shown as “the norm” on TV. However, we do live in a society in which a popular show on TV is Sixteen and Pregnant. Just saying.

    Great post. Off to check out Susan’s post on VD.

      1. I watched one show. It did show these young women facing consequences, but, IMHO, none of it was *that* bad. My overall impression was this: to a girl of that age, this lifestyle would probably look glamorous and grown-up in a forbidden way.

  3. The simple fact of the matter is that broadcast TV is going for shallower forms of entertainment because it’s cheaper to produce and get enough viewers to generate ratings. And do it without pissing off advertisers.

    Thus it’s simpler to show some skin, some faux sex and absolutely no plot. To be candid, i have completely given up on broadcast TV drama.

    There’s more depth of character on the comedies. Or heck, Survivor (though I enjoy Survivor as much because Jeff Probst interacts with audience during the broadcast on twitter adding more nuance to what is happening beyond what we can see).

    It’s why if you want characterization & plot – you have to have to go cable. They don’t need as many viewers to be successful. They narrow their niche so the advertisers who buy on the show know what to expect.

    Thus you get shows like Breaking Bad or Walking Dead.

    I know those are not YA. But I suspect YA shows on the cable are better.

    Mark

  4. Yeah. THIS. This is why I don’t watch any of these shows (The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, Gossip Girl, etc.) because all the commercials are just SKIN SKIN SKIN, and I’m tired of seeing that on shows featuring teenaged characters. (Granted, I think the Gossip Girl characters are in college or whatever by now, but still…)

    It’s almost like the producers are making these shows so that older people (college-aged kids up through whatever) can get their jollies watching these young people get it on, because that way they can pretend like their high school years were as titillating. And the producers AREN’T taking into account how these shows about high-school aged kids having sex like it doesn’t mean anything could influence actual high-school aged kids.

    BARF.

    Also, boy-man chests creep me out. All these CW boys look like they’re twelve years old. And bitchy, pouty twelve-year-olds at that. NO THANKS.

      1. Hee hee. Pretty indifferent about Tom Welling, I have to say. Generally speaking, pretty boys creep me out. But then, I never watched the show, so maybe that would change my mind.

  5. “I lieu of creativity there’s an undue emphasis on sexuality.” Jay Christian Emerte
    This quote always pops in my head when I see oversexed t.v., books, or anything. It’s not always true, but most of the time it is.

  6. I am so agreeing with you that I do not know what to say. I cannot tell you the difficulty I have had with this subject over the recent years and it just seems everyone says well okay. I was scared to death of the example it set for my son who is now in college but not long ago in high school. Trying to broach this subject with him openly without the eye rolling was very difficult, but I felt it was very necessary to make sure he understood the importance of our sexuality and the gift is it not just to be gratuitously bandied about because it did not really mean anything. Thanks for sharing today and not making me feel like a prude because I have felt this way. I agree a sexual relationship is a wonderful thing, but there are always consequences, even when on the surface you can try to fool yourself into thinking it is not. To have these beautiful young people that every young person watches and wishes they were exemplify these behaviors with such nonchalance – is just a sad, sad, thing.

  7. As a mother, it bothers me to no end to see this all portrayed so casually. I want to make sure our children have a deep sense of their dignity and value but the mainstream world loves to tell them otherwise. At the moment, mine are both young enough that we can be pretty strict with what they take into their brains. I imagine it’ll get tougher as they get older though. Shows like this don’t help.

  8. I am so glad you brought this up. It’s time someone did. The gratuitous casual sex, underage drinking and use of drugs displayed on shows aimed at teenagers is so disheartening. You’re absolutely right…sex should mean something and it’s a shame our teenagers are being lambasted with the message that all is good and okay, without any thoughts to the consequences. I’d like to think those in Hollywood will take note, but….

  9. I am TOTALLY with you on this one! I hate it that I have to watch a TV show before I allow my children to see it. I even have to ban some cartoons on Cartoon Network. The media is making kids grow up way too fast, and I don’t think it’s healthy

  10. Plots are, you know, for people who care. Not for people who just like to see creepy boy-man chests and “steam” scenes…I don’t really watch much TV, and what I do watch tends to be on SyFy or something random I discovered on Netflix.

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