So I just finished binge-watching an entire TV series in the span of two days. This show was Amazon Prime’s “The Wilds.” It came out last December and is based around eight girls getting stranded on a deserted island and their stories of how they got there. A reason this show was so binge-worthy was because of its thriller qualities, but also because of the dialogue and relatability that these teenage girls had. However, I think some of the things the girls would say were not really accurate to how teenage girls really talk, and this show isn’t the only one that struggles with depicting the conversations that often occur between young adults.
When I looked up who wrote “The Wilds,” I was unsurprised that the writers were older men and women. I have nothing against you Sarah Streicher, but I would appreciate it if your dialogue and references to popular culture in the script were more in touch with my generation.
The best example of TV writers being out of touch with Gen Z is none other than the CW’s “Riverdale.” Besides the absolute chaos that is the show, the way the characters talk to each other is cringey, and it’s like the writers have never even talked to a teenager before.
While early representations of angst were accurate to being a young adult in America, these sentiments or dialogues aren’t the same anymore. This kind of lazy writing can also be seen in Netflix’s “Ginny & Georgia,” which has received its fair share of criticism for its idiotic dialogue. One of the worst moments of dialogue in the series is coined by Film Daily: “Oppression Olympics: Let’s go!” when Ginny and her boyfriend are arguing with each other and slew racial stereotypes at each other. Like… what even is that?
Even when trying to find shows based around college experiences (which there are not a lot of), the dialogue still feels like the writers are trying too hard. In ABC’s “grown-ish,” a lot of the conversations sound very childish. One of the lines from one of the characters is “I’ll never let the haters get to me,” when he’s talking to his group of friends.
While this kind of banter may have been accurate to college students at some time, it definitely is not anymore. One show from Netflix that is somewhat accurate to the college experience is Netflix’s “Dear White People.” Each character has complexity, depth and their experiences throughout college are relatable, whilst their dialogues are accurate to things I would say, and others would too.
While these shows are funny at a glance, it is harmful to young people to see a negative representation of themselves on screen. The stereotypes that all we do is hate the world all the time, only worry about social media or are full of angst is a beyond-tired trope. The coming-of-age experience is far from a monolith, and writers should start acknowledging this.
All of these shows have one thing in common: the romanticizing of a crazy and weird standard for young adults. These shows present the idea that young people are running out of time in their lives, and I know I, for one, have been affected by this trope in shows/films. The writers use constant partying, engaging in recklessness and adolescent popularity to create this distorted view of the young adult lifestyle, which most of the time isn’t accurate to our experiences. Especially during COVID-19, I feel like I have been robbed of so many experiences, and I am angry I didn’t value the simplest of things pre-pandemic (even though all of this was out of my control).
Perhaps it’s the drive of capitalism as well, but as I’ve said before, many college graduates feel a sense of hopelessness when their time as a student ends because they feel their youth has been wasted. I just want to tell all students, especially those graduating this semester, that the end of college isn’t something that should symbolize the end-all. It’s OK if you don’t have everything figured out or you don’t have a job waiting for you. It’s terrifying to be a 20-something-year-old with no idea how to go on. Nevertheless, I promise it’ll be OK if you take care of yourself at times, instead of worrying about the expectations these shows place on you.
All in all, I want these shows to do better for my experience and others. If they are going to continue profiting off young adult experiences, they should research the people they’re portraying. Besides giving young adults an enjoyable show to watch, TV writers can also gain from having a successful and relatable show and provide an outlet for the emotions of young adults.