Teens on television are super-relatable. They go to school, they fight with their siblings, they have supernatural powers that help them kill demons and solve murders . . . OK, maybe not totally relatable.
In fact, when you think about it, even when you take out the crime-fighting vampires and other supernatural characters, teens on TV can seem a lot more like fantasy than reality. They always look perfect, their lives are nonstop drama, and school, when they bother to show up, lasts about three minutes. Of course, that’s part of the appeal of TV: Sometimes you want to escape the regularly scheduled programming of school, friends, and family, and immerse yourself in a story far more glamorous and dramatic than your real life.
The problem is that when you see the characters on TV as models for what your life should be like, you can experience serious FOMO when it doesn’t measure up. “Seeing people who are supposed to be your age who have perfect relationships and are really attractive can make you think you’re doing something wrong,” says Simon, a 15-year-old from Washington, D.C.
It’s important to remember that the hard-partying, acne-free teens you see on TV are fictional characters created by adults, says Kelly Mendoza of Common Sense Media, an organization that monitors media for kids. “These shows are designed for entertainment, not to be documentaries on teen life,” she says. “You should be asking yourself, are these images realistic? Am I unfairly comparing myself to characters on a show?”
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with bingeing an entire season of Outer Banks. But you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you remind yourself no teen’s life really looks like that. Here’s what our real teen advisers say are the most common clichés. How many can you spot on your favorite shows?