Teenagers all grown up

Karishma Mehrotra

Why do teenage shows have nothing to do with teenagers? 

 

"Dude, best show ever." 

"Did you see that episode last night? It was awesome."

 
"Aw man, that is my favorite television show of all time."


 

What makes a good show? Plot, characters, action, drama, humor? 


 

Most people would assume that the most profitable shows in the television industry among teenagers would be those that they can relate to. Take, for example, enthusiastic fans of the high school drama in "Glee", "90210", "The O.C.", and "Gossip Girl". But when the spectrum of the most-watched shows are laid out for plain eyes, it is easily noticeable that teenagers are drawn to the shows that have squat to do with their own lives. 


 

Senior Tarun Chaudhry, avid television viewer, narrows his 40 favorite shows to the top four: "The Office", "24", "House", and "Chuck". None of them include teenage lives. In fact, they are far from it.


 

"I would say that [shows] I can’t relate to I like more because they provide a different perspective. You can always see your perspective…but you can’t imagine what it is like for spies, for example, and you need TV shows and movies to imagine that," Chaudhry said.


 

Our generation watches shows ranging from "The Office" and "30 Rock" to "Ugly Betty" and "Parks and Recreation" but knows nothing about a working career. Most of us love the shows "House", "Grey’s Anatomy", "ER", and "Scrubs", but we are obviously not doctors. Plenty of us TiVo "Desperate Housewives", "Family Guy", and "Two and a Half Men" but have no clue how to raise a family. Lots of teenagers adore action-packed shows like "Chuck", "Law and Order", "CSI", "Heros", "Monk", and "Psych", but have very dreary action in our own lives. It seems as though we tend to drift toward those shows that resemble lives of adults, whether they are realistic or not. 


"I like shows like [90210 and Gossip Girl] too," senior Sita Kumar said. "But ["Grey’s Anatomy", "Lost", and "Friends"] are on the top of my list just because you can’t really imagine going through it yourself so you watch other characters go through it…and it is way more intense than anything that would actually happen to anyone."


 

One of the newest shows on NBC, "Parenthood", that premiered March 2, also seems to have no connection to youngsters. What do we know about being a parent? And yet, we are predictably part of the target audience. At first, the show seems to revolve around struggling parents and a separate, and yet united, traditional family. Although no kid is affiliated with the main theme of the program, the attraction could potentially lie in something as simple as seeing life through the eyes of a grown-up, as mundane as it may sound. 


 

When we were little, our shows were all about kids just like us. Anyone recall "Rugrats" or "Rocket Power"? But times have changed and as we grow older, so does our taste.


 

"I want to see shows [that] are not related to me," Chaudhry said, "[things] I could be doing in the future or shows that show a whole different perspective other than my life."


Shows with themes that a students can identify with seems appealing on script but redundant in execution. 


 

"I watch [shows that I can relate to]," Kumar said. "But they are so many that they kind of all blend together. So [these not relatable shows] kind of stand out more and that’s why I like them…I think that people make shows thinking that ‘oh let’s make this show about…teenagers in California’ but a lot of people do the same thing." 


So future television producers, keep note. Sure teenagers love watching Serena and Dan’s petty drama, but would probably choose to TiVo Michael and Jim battle for a Dunder Mifflin manager position or McDreamy and Dr. Richard Webber battle for Seattle Grace Chief of Surgery instead. Nobody wants to watch what they see everyday.