Inside the Mind of a Movie Lover: Teen television shows

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Courtesy Netflix

Photo Editor Annabella Ferraiuolo rates the Netflix teen tv program The Politician as “worth it”, recommending it as a drama that anyone will find engaging and entertaining.

Annabella Ferraiuolo, Photo Editor

Nothing gets me happier than teen television shows. But nothing gets me angrier either. They are either revolutionary and brilliant, or they include every stereotype to the point where it hurts to watch. Most of them are the same: they follow a group of friends through high school drama, boyfriend/girlfriend issues, college applications and god-awful teachers. The characters live stereotypical lives in some stereotypical town or city and have your typical privileged problems. Netflix is FULL of teen dramas, many of which are originals. So, I decided to highlight some teen shows that I think actually are worth their hype and others that are a big waste of time.

“Grand Army” – NOT WORTH IT

This show includes every stereotype in the book, never mind the fact that the storyline is uninspired and has no purpose whatsoever. I honestly don’t know why I watched every episode of this show, especially since nothing interesting happened until after the third episode. . This show seemingly encourages reckless behavior including sexual assault, doing drugs, drinking and smoking. The idealistic view of these topics is too over the top, and it’s not a good thing to include in a show meant for teenagers that are easily susceptible to peer pressure. There is a right and a wrong way to effectively show these sensitive things in television—specifically television meant for teens—and this show did not do it right. Yes, some characters were punished for their actions, but most were not. 

Each of the three main friend groups highlighted in this show are so completely different and only connected by the fact that they all attend the same high school in Brooklyn, New York. This is another issue I have with this show. Why should I care about each of these separate groups of friends that have no relation to each other? I’m assuming this is in an attempt to show the different types of lives within a public school, but I think these people should’ve had a much stronger connection to each other. I never ended up finishing the show (I had two and a half episodes left) because it was just too painful to watch this sleazy attempt of a teen drama. While all dramas are bound to be filled with stereotypes, this one failed to have any uniqueness or a strong storyline. For these reasons, I advise you to avoid this show. 

“Never Have I Ever” – NOT WORTH IT

This one starts out pretty cringy. However, part of that awkwardness is what makes this show so funny. The first episode made me cringe so much. The extremely strong and unrealistic personality types of these characters made me wonder if anyone actually acts like that in real life. I pray that no one does. However, once I got past the first few episodes, I found myself laughing at the characters and the events. Additionally, the episodes are quick, and I finished the whole first season in a day, which makes this show a good binge if you need something to watch for a day. However, I wouldn’t watch the show again, and when season two comes out, I probably won’t watch it; there are better shows to watch.

The series follows sophomore high school student Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) who is on a mission to become “cool” after being made fun of for her heritage and family lifestyle. Just the description makes this show sound like a quirky show. There really is no reason to not watch this show, except that maybe you don’t want to feel the second hand embarrassment of Devi and her co-stars. If you tough it out through the first couple of episodes, I guarantee that you will be able to find some enjoyment in this awkward coming of age dramedy. However, for the purpose of ranking either worth it or not worth it, I’d have to say this can’t even compare with other better teen dramas.

“All American” – SEMI WORTH IT

I think this show is an interesting look into the culture of Los Angeles while also loosely basing the storyline off of someone’s real life experience. However, the show is of course unrealistic and does glorify drugs, drinking and partying just a tad. For that reason I say this show is only semi worth it as I found that during these scenes I felt myself rolling my eyes or wanting to skip through them. The story follows Spencer James as he is invited to switch from his local Crenshaw high school to Beverly Hills High due to his outstanding football skills. The show depicts the extreme differences between life in a lower class neighborhood like Crenshaw to an upper wealthy class neighborhood like Beverly Hills. I think this is interesting because I feel people can be blind to the quality of life differences within one city or county. 

I feel there is a lot of dramatization, which of course is going to happen. iIt’s a teen drama for lord’s sake. Yet, there were times I thought I was watching college students rather than high school students. No, that wasn’t because there are much older actors playing 17 year olds. Rather because they carried their roles as though they were adults. They appeared mature in their manner of speaking and acting to a degree that is much more well behaved than any teen’s attitude. I personally enjoyed watching it since I love Los Angeles, and I’ll be in college there in the fall. For another person with no connection to Los Angeles or no interest in football, I feel that the over-dramatization can be harder to look over. 

“The Politician” – WORTH IT

This show is so good, it’s easy to forget it is targeted towards teen pop culture. Starring Ben Platt and Bette Midler, this has got to be one of the best casts of a teen show out there. The cast definitely drives the show, and the storyline is fresh and relevant to our time. It follows an aspiring gay politician as he begins his plan to become president of the United States. His first step: become president of his very exclusive and wealthy private high school. The acting is mature and respectable. Not once did I feel uncomfortable or doubt the relationships between the characters. 

There’s lots of drama, however, and a lot of it mocked the wealthy and high schoolers in general. For example, Ben Platt’s character frequently freaks out about something going wrong and how it could prevent him from becoming president of the United States. I found it to be enjoyable and passive aggressive in a good way. Plus, every once in a while, Platt will sing using his extraordinary voice talents. It is entertaining for those that know him as a singer and for those that have never heard of him before. 

This was a show that surprised me in multiple ways. Platt proved he can both be a believable actor in the theatre and screen world. It also proved that shows about the wealthy and about politics can be funny, interesting and understandable for anyone.

“Trinkets” – NOT WORTH IT

It feels like I’ve already seen this cliche show. With a “Breakfast Club” type of storyline mixed with the extremely common missing parent figure, nothing about this show makes it any special. The first episode had me so bored out of my mind I couldn’t watch anymore. Usually, I make myself watch at least the first couple of episodes before writing about it, but with this show, I truly could not bring myself to do it. This series follows Elodie, a compulsive thief forced into a new school and support group after her mom’s death. What seems like something new turns out to be very typical, with lifelong friendships that form over the course of the first 27 minute episode. A little fast if you’re asking me. I’ve never seen any three people connect that fast, but what do I know is that I’m just a high school senior. This show somehow went on to a second season which makes me wonder who watched it. “Breakfast Club” friendships are getting to be so over-done to the point where it isn’t realistic anymore. This show proved that. 

 Although the main character is meant to be a little unemotional, I found that ALL of the characters acted very unemotional. I get that it was the first episode, but come on, they could’ve given me something good. Nothing about the acting made me want to stick around and keep watching. The blandness of the characters’ personalities made it painful to watch. If I’m being completely honest, it made me wonder if I have a personality as bad as these teens, because that would be depressing. I guess if you want to feel good about your personality, watch this, but otherwise, please don’t watch.

This will be my last post, so I hope you all enjoyed reading about some of my favorites and unfavorites throughout the past few months. Overall, Netflix proved that there are teen shows that can be fun and interesting. Make sure to check out my other posts; I have mentioned other teen television shows that are worth your time. 

This is goodbye for now. As in any classic teen television show, I now (theoretically) insert a montage of cheesy, sad music and rain as I sadly walk away from this blog series.