I guess I watch these television takes on YA because it's a little like research. I don't personally know any teenagers anymore. However, these teenybopper* shows have their fair share of problems, and buttloads of disbelief-suspending.
***A word of warning: Here there be (some) spoilers.***
While I'm embarrassed to admit I watch some of these shows, here's my take on the most ridiculous aspects of them:
Dear, sweet, idiotic Elena: Poop or get off the pot. Pick a Salvatore already (psst...I vote Damon). Thanks. But even more ridiculous than this slightly incestuous love triangle is the whole Gilbert-guardians-dropping-like-flies thing. I have four words for the writers of this show: Wards. Of. The. State. Seriously, I'm expected to believe that an unrelated male history teacher would be permitted to move in with two of his minor-aged students, one of whom is a teenage girl? And now what? Who's looking after them now that Alaric is more Casper than caregiver? Maybe Damon could move in. This show needs more arched eyebrows. Fantastic**.
Pretty Little Liars
Good gosh, where to begin? A sixteen-year-old girl is dating her adult English teacher (now former teacher), and the police haven't been called? And when Mom & Dad grudgingly allow it, Social Services hasn't shown up? What the heck kind of message does that send? Hello, Mary Kay Letourneau, nice to see you again. In real life teachers go to jail for this kind of thing. Just because they met before he was her teacher, and just because he's no longer her teacher does not make it legal. I just googled whether this actually happens in the books, and apparently it does, but Ezra moves away for good when they're caught. That seems more believable to me.
I know you're thinking, "Why do you watch that?" And believe me, I ask myself the same question all the time. It's mindless and that's about it. So, so many beefs here. An eighteen-year-old—not yet legally able to drink in California—owns a beach bar. What? Four of the show's fresh-out-of-high-school characters either get engaged, married, or propose to another teen. Is that what kids are up to these days? Man, I'm out of touch. While the show deals with real issues—teen pregnancy, disease, suicide, death, drugs—they really leave me scratching my head on others. I can only let so many things go before I start wondering if the writers are doing lines off their scripts. I need to pare back my TV, and I think this one is getting the axe.
This is just a small sampling of teen shows that I watch, but they're the ones that spring most readily to mind. I watch plenty of teen television mainly because it's more interesting than a lot of other shows, and because it's the closest thing to watching the equivalent of a YA book. Heck, a good many of these shows are based on YA books (Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle and soon to be aired The Selection***, and The Carrie Diaries). But in the end I'm just glad that YA fiction exists and that there's something out there for teens that is both realistic and responsible. YA, irrespective of genre, deals with teen issues in a way that is neither heavy-handed nor overly permissive. Don't we owe that to today's teens? Now, I don't hate these shows (I still watch them) but I think they could use a heaping helping of reality even if the story is fantastical in nature. And maybe, just maybe, they could be a little less unrealistic and ridiculous.
* And now you know: I'm a visitor from the 1950s. What is this thing I'm typing on?! And where's my poodle skirt?!
** No really, that would be fantastic. I would not complain. Like, at all.
*** Apparently, this has stalled out a little bit and might not show up until next summer. The good news: it's been reported that Friday Night Lights' Aimee Teegarden will star in it (Yay!). I just hope the CW doesn't screw this one up.