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OMFG? Not so much . . . – The Top Ten “Been There, Seen That” Teen Television Cliches (Part 1 of 2)

It is probably no secret to anyone who has ever stopped by this blog before (or even just examined the above “collage”), that I am a sucker for Trash-tastic Teen Television.  I have been a fan of these types of shows since the age of eight.  That was when I first decided that I desperately wanted to be a teen.  And I have no doubt that I will remain a fan, long after I have cruised past “old age,” and am forced to squint through my coke bottle glasses, and smile through my dentures, at the sight of some pipsqueaks (who bear a suspicious resemblance to my grandkids) attending prom on my small screen.

“That is one hot threesome.  Oh, when I think back to my first threesome . . . ah memories!”

Having been around the “teenage television” block quite a bit since my eighth birthday, I have come to notice a few patterns among my favorite teen dramas.  Over the years, I have watched in wonder, as certain storylines traveled across decades,  time zones, and networks, just to reach my lowly television set, over and over (and over and over) again . . .  So I’ve decided to investigate these storylines, in hopes of FINALLY figuring out what makes them so “gosh darn special!”

1) “Hit me with a baby, one more time!” – The Pregnancy Scare and/or Actual Pregnancy Plotline

The Storyline: Our teen female protagonist has sex . . . usually for the first time.  Her partner is either a long, LONG time boyfriend, with whom she has been discussing doing the deed for the ENTIRE season . . .

 Or, conversely, he is a one night-stand, who she (a) barely knows; or (b) seemingly despises.  There is never any in between. 

In the very next scene, our protagonist learns that she has missed her period.  She is FLIPPING THE F&CK OUT!

She keeps her discovery a secret from everyone, except for her best friend.  And the best friend is inevitably the one who convinces the protagonist to take the pregnancy test.

Regardless of the pregnancy test’s ultimate result, inevitably there comes a time when our protagonist has to have “The Discussion” with “The Maybe Baby Daddy.” 

 Sometimes, he takes it well . .  . usually, he doesn’t . . . at least, not at first.

Now, if the protagonist ends up not being pregnant . . . well then . . . THAT’S IT!  Our protagonist is RELIEVED!  She feels brand NEW!  She’s CHANGED!

She will pretend this whole little sweeps week episode never happened (or, in the case of Manny Santos, and Degrassi, the U.S. will pretend this whole episode never happened . . . by NOT AIRING IT, until about 3 years after it was actually filmed).  However, if our protagonist IS pregnant . . . we get stuck with a baby storyline for ALL ETERNITY (or at least it will seem that way  . . .)!

Examples: Brenda on 90210 (not actually pregnant); Andrea on 90210 (actually pregnant / had baby / raised baby); Summer on The O.C. (not actually pregnant); Manny on Degrassi: The Next Generation (actually pregnant / had abortion); Liberty on Degrassi: The Next Generation (pregnant / had baby / gave baby up for adoption); Emma on Degrassi: The Next Generation (not actually pregnant / feeling left out because EVERYONE else on her show actually was); Blair on Gossip Girl (not actually pregnant);  Georgina on Gossip Girl (To Be Determined?); Amy on Secret Life of the American Teenager (actually pregnant / had baby / is raising baby); Quinn on Glee (actually pregnant / had baby / gave baby up for adoption).

Why it’s a cliche?

“Hey there, boys and girls!  I’ve got a message for you!  Premarital sex is BAAAAAAAAD!”

Teen television programs tend to be written by adults.  And even the most hip and forward thinking adults, don’t like to think about their 15-year old kids f*c*ing eachother’s brains out like bunny rabbits on acid. 

So they ever so subtly try to scare the crap out of their kids, by showing them how having sex once can RUIN THEIR LIVES FOREVER!  It doesn’t really work . . .

This storyline is SO overdone that precisely NO ONE is shocked or dismayed by the prospect of a female protagonist  . . . missing her period.  Hey writers, want to REALLY scare your kids celibate?  Give your television characters crabs. 

That will permanently glue your teen’s legs shut for sure!

2) “OH NO!  You killed .  . . what’s his name again?” – The Death of the Peripheral Character Plotline

 

The Storyline:  There is this recurring character on your favorite show that has becoming increasingly annoying, of late. 

You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you just think the character really sucks. 

And you can’t wait for him or her to leave your television screen ALONE! 

You spend WAY too much time bashing this minor character on online message boards, and in snarky recaps of the show.  In those messages, you may or may not beg the show’s writers for said character’s untimely demise. 

Then the character actually DIES. 

And you’re secretly happy that you got what you wanted. 

But NOW you’re convinced you are very sh*tty person.  Because, REALLY, what kind of nice, normal person is HAPPY when someone dies, real or fake?  Even though very few of the characters on your show seemed to like this character any more than you did, while he was alive, they all make a big show of mourning and /or having a funeral for him or her.  

Your favorite character will inevitably give the eulogy for this character.  And it will be all warm, and fuzzy, and heartfelt . . . and, of course, totally depressing. 

And YOU will surprise yourself by crying like a baby when you watch it (probably out of guilt for openly hating the character so much . . . or . . .  maybe the scene just reminds you of a dead relative).  After the episode airs, the show’s entire cast will COMPLETELY forget that this dead character ever existed . . .

Examples: Scott on 90210, Abby on Dawson’s Creek; Rick on Degrassi: The Next Generation, Johnny on The O.C., that dude Serena supposedly “killed” on Gossip Girl, Percy and Reed on Grey’s Anatomy (not technically a teen show, but still . . .), Vicki on The Vampire Diaries

Why it’s a cliche?  The “Very Special” Dead Person episode of any teen show is sure to be a ratings grabber, no matter how unlikeable the soon-to-be dead character was before he met his demise.  Plus, killing any character on their show (even if it’s just a one-episode guest star) allows producers to run that oh-so-original . . . “SOMEBODY WILL DIE!” promo the week before their episode airs, and you know how ALL producers LOVE that promo! 

3) “Hot for Teacher!” – The Inappropriate Student / Teacher Relationship Plotline

The Storyline:  The protagonist has a crush on his or her very attractive (yet obviously lonely, and very desperate), teacher. 

The teacher makes a lame ass attempt to rebuff the protagonists affections, but fails miserably. 

Soon the student and the teacher are doing the horizontal mambo together in secret. 

Someone always finds out.  Someone always exposes them for the sluts they both are. 

It always ends badly . . .

Examples: Pacey and Miss Jacobs on Dawson’s Creek, Paige and Mr. O on Degrassi: The Next Generation, Dan and Miss Carr on Gossip Girl, Aria and Mr. Fitz on Pretty Little Liars

Why it’s a cliche?  Forbidden love is HOT!  And cougars are all the rage!  Plus, who HASN’T had a crush on one of their teachers and indulged in a naughty fantasy, or two (or twenty) involving same? 

 Mine was my freshman history teacher in high school.  He was pretty young, compared to most of my teachers at that time . . . probably in his mid-to-late twenties . . . and single.  Actually, he kind of looked like this . . .

 . . . only he was a wee bit older . . . and he generally wore shirts (unfortunately).  Coincidentally, Mr. Devlin, if your reading this . . . 😉

4) “Cheaters never win, and winners never . . . whatever.” – The Cheating on a Test / Plagiarism Plotline

Storyline: The protagonist REALLY needs to pass a particular test or ace a certain paper.  He or she is under a lot of external pressure to do so. 

 But something happens, so that he or she doesn’t have time to do the appropriate amount of studying and /or research.  He or she is tempted, upon receiving answers to the test or a pre-written paper, to . . . CHEAT!

The protagonist struggles with whether or not to enter into the dark evil world of “school crime,” but ultimately does. 

Because the character cheated, he or she does so well on the test or paper that his teacher inevitably wants to enter him or her in some national competition of some sort related to the aforementioned paper or test.  Smothered by guilt, the character eventually comes clean.  He or she then gets in trouble . . . 

But not in nearly as much trouble as the character would, if caught, in . . . say . . . the REAL WORLD . . .

“It can’t possibly be worse than when I got that awful haircut . . .”

Examples: Felicity on Felicity, Andie on Dawson’s Creek, Rusty on Greek, Lindsay and Daniel on Freaks and Geeks, Spencer on Pretty Little Liars

Why it’s a cliche?  One word:  schadenfreude.  You see, here’s the thing . . . every teen show has that one uptight overachieving character, who always gets A’s, is super judgmental of all of her “less brilliant” friends, and never seems to do anything wrong.  Admit it!  It’s kind of fun to see tight asses like that crack under the pressure . . .

Make that VERY fun!

5) “I’m gonna do real bad things to you .  . . and make you DO real bad things!”  – The “Bad Influence” Plotline

The Storyline: Our protagonist is going through kind of a “rough patch” in his or her life.  He or she is therefore looking to let loose, and have some sort of emotional and/or physical release.  In walks a character who is fun, adventurous, and more than a little dangerous. 

Our protagonist starts hanging out with the “dangerous” character a lot. 

(Click the internal link to watch!)

Before you know it, he or she is behaving just like the “dangerous” character, and getting into all sorts of trouble as a result.   

 The protagonists other friends are jealous of all the fun their typically boring protagonist is now having.  But they are also worried.  Inevitably, the moment comes when protagonist is about to get into a cr*p load of trouble with the “dangerous” character. 

 The friends stage an intervention of sorts. 

It works!

 The dangerous character rides away on the evil broomstick by which it came.  All is, once again, right (and boring) with the world . . .

Examples: Abby influencing Jen on Dawson’s Creek, Georgina influencing Serena on Gossip Girl, Damon influencing Caroline on The Vampire Diaries, “The Freaks” influencing Lindsay on Freaks and Geeks, that character Paul Wesley played on Everwood influencing Hannah on Everwood, that character Paul Wesley played on The O.C. influencing Ryan and Seth on The O.C.

Why it’s a cliche?  Everybody’s got a dark side.  Secretly, we all want to be a little “bad” sometimes.  The good news is that we can do it safely and vicariously, by watching our favorite “good” television characters “go bad,” albeit temporarily.  They have fun while doing it . . . and so do we, at least until their lame friends bring them back to earth.

Well, that’s all the teen television cliches I have for tonight.  But please tune in tomorrow, when I tackle love triangles, love-hate relationships, prom, the ever enlightening “trip to Europe,” and, of course, the dreaded ski trip  .  . .

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I Think I Am Going To Need Therapy After Watching This Episode . . . My RANT about the Grey’s Anatomy Season Finale “Sanctuary / Death and all of His Friends”

[WARNING:  This is going to be a kind of mean, and VERY angry, post about the Season Finale of Grey’s Anatomy.  So, if you LOVED this episode, then what I’m about to say is just going to make YOU very angry.  And YOU will be very tempted, to leave mean comments here — comments that will make ME very sad . . .

 . . . Plus, I’ll probaby delete them.  But, of course, we are BOTH entitled to our opinions.  So, if you were a big fan of the finale, you might want to stay away from this post, for both of our sakes.  But, before you go, let me just say that, for six seasons, I have truly LOVED Grey’s Anatomy, which is why this episode hurt my heart so very much.]

OK . . . here goes nothing . . .

You know how people always talk about BIG TWISTS and DEATHS during SEASON FINALES of popular programs that air during MAY SWEEPS?  Then, you probably also know that, whenever fans of a show engage in such discussions, there is always someone who jokes that, “Haha, I think X is going to come by and SHOOT THE ENTIRE CAST!” 

They aren’t really SERIOUS, when they say this, of course.  Because no show would ever SHOOT THE ENTIRE CAST, right?  That would just put the whole show in jeopardy, wouldn’t it?

Ummmm . . . yeah .  . . they basically did that on tonight’s two-hour long Grey’s Anatomy episode entitled “Sanctuary / Death and all his Friends”. . .    or, as I like to call it, “We’d really enjoy making our fans miserable for two hours, in order to gain ratings and publicity.”

She LOOKS so nice and SWEET.  I just don’t understand . . .

I don’t think I’ve ever been so TORTURED by a television show or movie in my entire life.  And I’m someone who ACTUALLY LIKES slasher films! 

I LOVE the Scream series . . . well, at least the first one . . . and parts of the third . . . and the beginning of the second.

 I’m really torn between being impressed by how truly shocking and upsetting this episode was . . .

 (The entire cast did an amazing job tonight, with some very difficult scenes.  There truly wasn’t a weak performance in the bunch.  This is one of the few NICE things I’m going to say here.  So enjoy it while it lasts.) 

 . . . and REALLY INFURIATED at the writers for seemingly DESPISING the show’s fans enough to put them through this!  (I think I’m going to go with INFURIATED, thank you very much!) 

That was me, after the episode ended.  A rabid racoon . . .

 Just to give you an idea of how plagued with terror and misery this episode truly was . . .

 (It had more blood, gore and torture in it than SAW, or Hostel.)

 . . . here’s just a brief list of some of the things that occured.  SPOILERS if you haven’t seen this, OBVIOUSLY!  (And if you care about your heart at all, maybe you shouldn’t watch it . . .)

Gary Clark  . . .

makes Freddy Krueger . . . .

 

look like Betty White . . .

(1) Dr. Reed got shot in the head and DIED!

(2) Dr. Percy got shot in the stomach (Or was it his back?  I couldn’t tell, because I was watching through my fingers, while shaking and crying hysterically).  Anyway, he bled disgustingly and painfully for two hours, until, ultimately, he suffered a seemingly never-ending, and agonizing death.   (Oh, and I think this was the MOST lines this guy has ever had on this show, since he started here, about a season ago . . . Figures, right?)

 During that time, he continually told Bailey . . .

 and Mandy Moore  . . .

(She was a guest star in this episode.  She did a great job.  This clearly isn’t her fault!)

 . . . to tell Reed he loved her, because he never got to tell her himself, before he died.  But .  . . um . . . Percy?  You’re going to see her WAY SOONER than Bailey and Mandy Moore.  Because, congratulations, she’s dead, just like you!

(3) Derek  . . .

was SHOT in the chest, right in the center of the hospital.  (You know, right near that HUGE OPEN WINDOW . . . where the SWAT TEAM, or the HELICOPTER, could have easily taken out the SHOOTER?)

 Then Cristina . . .

 .  . . and Dr. “Hotness” Avery . . .

(One of the few bright points of this episode was that he saved the day!  And he actually had a decent amount of lines, for a change.)

 . . . operated on him.  Then the CRAZY LUNATIC SHOOTER held a gun to everyone’s head and told them to stop operating.  So, they stopped, and the monitor flatlines, and Meredith . . .

(Why have I chosen to show her in a wedding dress, you ask?  You see, I’m trying in vain to cheer myself up after this insanely upsetting episode!)

 . . . who’s in the room at the time, cries hysterically and screams bloody murder.  Because, after all, it WOULD HAVE BEEN BLOODY MURDER!  But ultimately we find out, they were only fooling (haha – April Fools!  Seriously?  Was that really necessary?)  They finish the operation, and he survives.

(4) About 10 random people we don’t know get shot and die.  Some of them bleed disgustingly on camera.

(5) Meredith finds out she is pregnant at the beginning of the episode, and is (surprisingly, especially for her) really happy about it . . .

 But then she miscarries from stress, while operating on Owen. (We’ll get to him later).   Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, she never gets to tell Derek about the pregnancy.

(6) Both  Alex . . .

(There I go, trying to cheer myself up, again . . .)

 and Owen (who was in the ARMY, and, you would think, would be a bit better at handling TRAUMA situations, like this one, but Noooooo . . .) . . .

 .  . . get shot, and bleed disgustingly, but don’t die.

(7) Bailey gets dragged out from underneath a bed and ALMOST gets shot, but doesn’t, because she tells the shooter she’s a nurse.  Don’t ask.  Speaking of Bailey, where the HECK was her boyfriend during this episode? 

Maybe he was hanging out with that useless swat team for two hours . . .

(Remove the “S” in their name and replace it with a “T,” because that’s about how effective they were at protecting our beloved characters)

( 8 ) Lexie . . .

 . . . almost gets shot, but the Keystone SWAT team get to the shooter first.  They only barely wound him, of course.  And he gets to walk around killing people for another hour, while the T SWAT Team scratches its ONE collective brain, and wonders where he went.  But, hey, he didn’t shoot Lexie!

(9) April . . .

 . . . almost gets shot, but she starts babbling about her personal life to the Killer.  So, he decides to let her go.  (I loved how this Killer got to be sensitive and emotional, when it was convenient for the plot, and cold-blooded, nuts, and Supernaturally EVIL, when it wasn’t.  When Derek told him, “You seem like a good man,” I would have actually laughed my ass off, if the whole thing wasn’t so incredibly disturbing and sad.)

(10) Christina almost gets shot like 5 times during the episode!

(11) Meredith ASKS to be shot, to save Derek, but the shooter leaves when he thinks Derek is dead.

(12)  Old Chief Webber . . .

 . . . who’s outside of the hospital when the episode begins, goes in and CONFRONTS the killer (Note: Those 20 or so idiot cops still haven’t found this guy, since the last time they barely wounded him.  Webber finds him IMMEDIATELY, no problem!)  Killer is GOING to shoot Chief, but only has one bullet left, and FINALLY shoots himself, which we all wish he did before this episode aired, to put us out of our misery.  Oh, but Chief DOESN’T fall off the wagon, even after Killer RANDOMLY offers him a flask. 

 Ummm, yay?

(13) Arizona and Callie get back together, and FINALLY agree to start a family. . .

 . . . because the writers had to add something good to the two hours, so that their entire fanbase didn’t slit their wrists.  (Not that the writers would care — since they seem to hate us ALL.  They just didn’t want to get sued . . .)

When the promos “spoiled” us fans, informing us, in no uncertain terms, that this episode would have a shooter, we all knew it was going to be that loony tunes, Gary Clark, who lost his wife a few episodes ago.  And we might have even understood him coming after Derek, under the circumstances.  It wouldn’t be JUSTIFIED, mind you.  But it would be MILDLY understandable.  

However, since when does killing 80 people (OK, it wasn’t 80, but it SURE felt like it was), constitute and “eye for an eye?” (Yes, Gary Clark actually used THAT biblical saying as an explanation for his MULTITUDE of murders.  If bibles could cry, they’d be bawling right now . . .)

We’ve seen this guy for two episodes prior to this.  And, given what we saw, his sudden psychopath tendencies, just didn’t make sense to me.  A completely random crazy person, would have been a more realistic option as shooter, in my opinion.  But seeing as this was a ploy for ratings . . . ANYTHING GOES!

Generally, I try to find “the positive” in episodes that I recap, even ones I don’t particularly care for.  But this was just too much!  If I didn’t care so much about these characters, having watched them grow and change over six seasons, I would stop watching this show, just because of this episode.  The writers were just plain cruel tonight.  And this was completely uncalled for, in my opinion.

Bash me, for saying this if you want, fellow Grey’s fans, but I’m pissed off . . . and, like I said, I might need therapy now.  So, thanks Shondra Rhimes!

But to end this post on a high note, here’s a cute picture of a kitten, to make us all feel better .  . .

See you next season?

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Filed under Grey's Anatomy