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

A couple of days ago, I came up with a list of the top ten plotline cliches featured in teen-oriented television dramas.  In the first installment of this blog entry, I posted the first five of these cliches.  That list included: (1) the Pregnancy Plotline; (2) the Death of a Peripheral Character Plotline; (3) the Student / Teacher Relationship Plotline; (4) the Cheating on a Test  / Plagiarism Plotline; and, finally, (5) the “Bad Influence” Plotline.

This installment will focus on the following popular Teen Television Cliches: (1) the Love Triangle; (2) the Summer in Europe; (3) the Love / Hate Relationship; (4) the School Ski Trip; and, of course (5) the Prom.  So, without further adieu, what do you say we take off our creative thinking caps, embrace conformity, and get started?

1) “Can’t we all just . . . have a threesome, instead?” – The Love Triangle Plotline

The Storyline:  Girl meets boy.  Boy is attractive. 

Boy is also nice and sweet, albeit a tad boring (and, sometimes, a bit of a whiny b*tch). 

Or, conversely, Boy is total douche; 

but Girl’s parents love him;

He looks “good on paper.”

and Boy is sure to make Girl a very wealthy, but very bored, housewife, some time in the not-so-distant future, if she plays her cards right.

But then . . . Other Boy magically appears.

Unlike the original Boy, Other Boy is a little dangerous . . .

Maybe he’s from the wrong side of the proverbial “tracks” . . .

Or, perhaps he has a reputation for being a bit of male slut . . .

 . . . or a criminal.

 Or maybe he has a bit of a mean streak, so Girl isn’t sure she can really trust him.

But there is just something about the way Other Boy makes Girl feel . . .

She smiles and laughs more when she’s around him. 

(Click the internal link to watch.)

He makes her more fun!

And Other Boy continues to believe in Girl, and support her, long after everyone else has seemingly abandoned her (including the original Boy).

So, what’s a Girl to do, when she wants them both?

Who does she choose?  Well, that depends on the season . . . the Television Season, that is . . .

Examples: Joey, Pacey, and Dawson (Dawson’s Creek); Veronica, Logan, and Duncan (Veronica Mars); Marissa, Ryan, and Luke (The O.C.); Elena, Damon, and Stefan (The Vampire Diaries); Rory, Jesse, and Dean (Gilmore Girls); Blair, Chuck, and Nate (Gossip Girl); Peyton, Lucas, and Nate (One Tree Hill); Emma, Sean, and Peter (Degrassi: The Next Generation); Felicity, Ben, and Noel (Felicity); Casey, Cappie, and Evan (Greek); Lyla, Tim, and Jason (Friday Night Lights)

Why it’s a cliche?  Three words (One of them is a contraction).  Because . . . It’s . . . AWESOME!

When it comes to successful teen drama plotlines, The Love Triangle, is a surefire WIN!  After all, what girl wouldn’t want to have two totally hot guys, who are complete opposites of one another fighting over her!  Aside from allowing female fans to vicariously fulfill their deepest fantasies, Love Triangles provide the added benefit of making Teen Television watching a TEAM SPORT!  Boys have football and basketball.  Girls have  THIS . . .

Yes, boys and girls, choosing sides in a Love Triangle War is SERIOUS business!  (Girls have been shot over WAY less!)  Don’t believe me?  Check out the sheer intensity of THESE fan-fueled debates  . . .

About Blair, Chuck and Nate

About Elena, Damon, and Stefan

About Felicity, Ben, and Noel . . .

(The above video debate between these two twenty-somethings kind of goes off the rails, after the first five minutes.  But I love their obvious enthusiasm for a show that’s been off the air now for nearly a decade!  I also love their accents . . . and the very impressive “Portrait of Ben” one of them created.  Scott Speedman, himself, would be proud!)

2) “Go to Europe . . . because no one could possibly ‘find themselves’ in the States!”  – The Summer in Europe Plotline

“When in France, do as the French do . . . French kiss!”

(Here we go again!  Internal link clicking time!)

The Storyline: It’s close to the end of the Season.  Our female protagonist’s life is a mess!  It’s just jam packed with unresolved love triangles, family issues, and massive blowout fights with former friends.  And what better way is there to deal with all of your problems, than to run away from them?  So, our female protagonist jaunts off to Europe (usually Paris), leaving pining boys and cliffhangers in her wake . . .

 Once there, our female protagonist sees the sights . . .

and miraculously FINDS HERSELF!  When she comes back, she’s a COMPLETELY different person, than when she left.  Who knows?  She might even have a new completely random, doesn’t belong on the show at all boyfriend!

Examples: Serena and Blair (Gossip Girl); Joey Potter (Dawson’s Creek); Brenda and Donna (90210); Holly (What I Like About You)

Why it’s a Cliche?  The main character’s temporary departure from his or her home base is a great way to bring about a Teen Television Drama’s summer hiatus.  If us fans are forced to spend an ENTIRE summer away from our beloved gang of characters, at least we can sleep better knowing that they aren’t hanging out with one another EITHER!  Plus, filming a scene or two “across the pond” makes for a great excuse for the show’s writers to say to their producer, “I’d like an all expense paid European vacation, please.  What!  It’s for THE SHOW!”

A summer in another country is also a pretty good excuse to suddenly change the entire personality and demeanor of a character, without any rational explanation whatsoever .  . .

“I got my new girlfriend and a frontal lobe lobotomy in Prague.  Doesn’t everybody?

3) “He Loves Me  . . . He Hates My Guts . . . He Loves Me . . .” – The Love/ Hate Relationship Plotline

The Storyline: He’s a playboy, and a real ladies man.  But he comes across as mean, and kind of shallow.  She’s a Type A personality, who comes across as cold and a bit uptight. 

They butt heads from the moment they first appear on screen together.  They fight, and call eachother names.  They insult one another, and play nasty tricks on eachother. 

But there is a passion boiling beneath the surface, that both he and she are trying desperately to deny. 

At the time, he and she are both involved with other people.  Their significant others notice the sexual tension laced beneath their supposed hatred, and try in vain to ignore it.  But the tension only grows.  Jealous and longing looks become prevalent.  Lingering touches, and moments of out-of-character “niceness,” between the two make each member of the pair begin to question their feelings. 

The guy in this scenario typically recognizes his feelings for her first. 

(You know the drill . . .)

But he usually keeps this to himself, out of fear of being ridiculed by the new object of his desires.  Then the two are placed in a dramatic situation.  Suddenly their mutual passion for one another overtakes them.  And they both give in to their desires.

Examples: Joey and Pacey (Dawson’s Creek); Buffy and Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer); Veronica and Logan (Veronica Mars); Seth and Summer (The O.C. – sort of . . . well . . . she hated him); Elena and Damon (The Vampire Diaries); Blair and Chuck (Gossip Girl)

Why it’s a Cliche?  You know how everyone always talks about how hot Makeup Sex is?  A couple fights, and then they make up.  All that angst and sexual energy, built up from all that red-faced arguing, is just kindling for the inevitable Orgasmic Fire of “Getting Back Together.”  And THAT’S from a fight that might last a day!  You can just imagine how hot Makeup Sex would be if the couple fought nonstop for TWO SEASONS!

4) “When the temperatures get COLD, the action gets HOT!” – The Ski Trip Plotline

The Storyline:  I’m going to be honest, this one was less of a “storyline” and more of a “plot convention.”  (Hey!  YOU try to come up with ten of these things . . . It’s not as easy as it looks.)  But did you ever notice how virtually EVERY teen drama features at least one ski trip?  BIG THINGS always happen on ski trips too!  People get drunk, get laid, get raped, or cheat on their significant other!   And someone ALWAYS hurts their foot, and conveniently can’t ski!

Examples:

Dawson’s Creek:

Jenn hurts her foot, gets wasted, and almost screws Gay Jack. 

Pacey and Joey do it for the first time!

Boy Meets World:

Cory hurts his foot too!  And makes out with Linda Cardellini!

Other fabulous shows featuring wild and crazy teen ski trips include Degrassi: Next Generation (Darcy gets date raped), and What I Like About You (Holly comes to terms with her feelings for Vince).

Precisely NONE of these characters were ever shown ACTUALLY skiing . . .

Why it’s a Cliche?  There’s just something about being away from home and your parents . . . about sleeping in a log cabin, right next to the fire.  You relax.  You let your guard down.  You get a little slutty and make bad choices.  (Except in the case of Pacey and Joey . . . that choice was GOOD!)  Plus, it’s WAY cheaper to film on location in some fake ski lodge than say . . . taking your entire cast and crew to Europe.

5) “Question:  What happened at Prom?  Answer: EVERYTHING!” – The Prom Plotline

The Storyline: It’s the event of the WHOLE season!  The entire cast will be in attendance!  But not everybody is going with the person they WANT to be going with. 

 A couple will break up.  A couple will get back together. 

Someone will win prom queen. 

 

Someone’s heart will be broken. 

A couple will finally do it. 

Another couple will ALMOST do it, but decide to wait . . . Oh, and someone will get wasted and make an ass of herself.

Examples: Dawson’s Creek, The O.C., 90210, Veronica Mars, Gossip Girl

Why it’s a Cliche?  For every high school girl, the Prom is the culminating social event of her entire pre-college academic career.  Even the most jaded of high school students (and I, myself, was already pretty jaded by that time) can’t help but dream of having the perfect dress, the perfect limo, the perfect Prom date, and the perfect slow dance.  For most of us, with all that build up and preparation, Prom itself ends up being pretty anti-climactic.  (The Post Prom Beach Trip, on the other hand . . . now, THAT ROCKED!).  But if we CAN’T have the perfect Prom, at least we can get the joy of seeing our television friends experience it for us.

So, there you have it – Ten Trashtastic Teen Television Cliches for your viewing pleasure!  Doesn’t it all make you feel OLD?

 

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Filed under 90210, Boy Meets World, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson's Creek, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Felicity, Gossip Girl, Greek, nostalgia, teen dramas, Television Super Couples, The O.C., The Vampire Diaries, Top Ten Lists, Veronica Mars, What I Like About You

Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs? (THE SEQUEL)

A little while back,  I wrote a blog entry entitled  Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs?  In it, I complained about the fact that most television programs today seem to have done away with theme songs, opting instead to use a few bland instrumental chords to introduce their show.  Some shows, like Lost or The Vampire Diaries,  have scrapped their opening sequences entirely.

When I was done bitching, I chose ten theme songs and opening sequences that I really enjoyed from my TV watching past, and shared them with anyone who might be interested.  And you guys seemed to like it.  (By “like it,” I mean you “clicked on it.”  For all I know, you may have took one look at the theme songs I chose, said “That TV Recapper Girl  is a total Poopyhead,” and slammed your browser in my face.)

But here’s the thing. . . .   There are SO MANY really great theme songs and opening sequences out there, that I DIDN’T get to show you.  And, for that reason, I thought it might be fun to try this again.  So, without further adieu, I present to you, ten MORE old school TV theme songs (in no particular order) that I find pretty cool.

1) All in the Family

All right.  So I can’t really say that this show was part of my childhood.  After all, it was already off the air, by the time I was born.  But I catch it in reruns ALL THE TIME, mostly just to watch the opening sequence.  I’m not entirely sure why I like it so much.  Perhaps it’s because there is something about Archie and Edith Bunker that reminds me a lot of my paternal grandparents.  Also, any opening sequence that involves that much ridiculously bad, off-key singing, is pretty cool in my book . . .

2) The Jeffersons

Like All in the Family, its spinoff, The Jeffersons, aired a smidgeon before my TV watching time.  But I watch it in reruns whenever I can find it, basically because I think its Sherman Hemsley is “the bees knees.”  He could just be standing around doing nothing, and I would find it absolutely hilarious.  Sherman is just so cute!  To me, he’s kind of like a black Danny Devito . . .

Did I mention that the song in the opening sequence is super catchy?  I still find myself singing it out loud every time I move into a new apartment, much to the extreme displeasure of anyone unlucky enough to be helping me move.  Just listen, and I dare you not to sing along!

3) Roseanne

This “smarter than it looked” show, about a working class family, was on the air, pretty much throughout my childhood.  During its nine-year run, the show’s opening sequence underwent nearly annual tweaks and changes.  Ironically, my favorite opening sequences for Roseanne came near the end of its run, when the show itself was losing some of the good humor and sharp writing of earlier seasons.  The opening sequences for the last two seasons of Roseanne, featured these really cool character morphs, illustrating how (for better or worse) the characters had aged during the show’s long run.

My favorite morph was for the Becky character, who, during the show’s nine years, was played by two different actresses, Lecy Goranson and Saarah Chalke (Scrubs).  The sequence morphs the two together, as if they are the same person.  My second favorite morph was for Roseanne herself, who made some really bad hair and plastic surgery choices during that decade.  In one picture in particular, her entire face seems to droop downward in a perverse, overly-botoxed sneer that actually used to give me nightmares.  When you see it, you’ll know why.

(Unfortunately, there is no embedding on this video.  So, you have to click the internal link, to watch it on YouTube.  Sorry!)

4) The Wonder Years

I loved this show when I was a little kid, for so many reasons.  For one, I thought Fred Savage was a total hottie.  I wanted to be Winnie Cooper, so that I could date him.  If my first TV crush was Jonathan Taylor Thomas from Home Improvement, Fred Savage comes in a close second.  Also, the dad on the show, Dan Luria, looked a lot like my dad, which I thought was pretty cool.

And, of course, the opening sequence was amazing!  You see, I was an only child, and, from what I gather, not a particularly photogenic one.  Therefore, we never had home videos in my family.  (I don’t even think we owned a video camera.)  So, when I would watch The Wonder Years, as a kid, I liked to pretend that Kevin Arnold’s home videos were mine.  Sometimes I would even reenact Winnie’s parts, as I watched  . . . It was kind of embarrassing.

5) Blossom

You know what?  When I said that NO home videos exist of me as a child, that’s not entirely true.  I do distinctly remember one video that was taken just before one of my dance recitals.  In it, 7-year old me BORED MY POOR FAMILY TO TEARS, by suiting up in my dance costume, and reenacting the ENTIRE RECITAL, casting myself in all the crucial roles, of course. 

 Funny looking costume?  Bad goofy dancing?  I imagine it looked a lot like this . . .

6) Dinosaurs

The things you learn when researching a blog entry!  I distinctly remember watching this program as a kid, during ABC’s fabulous Friday night TGIF lineup.  The show was sort of a live action Flintstones, only all the characters in it were dinosaurs.  Now that I think about it, the whole thing was a little bizarre . . .

But regardless of the quality of the show itself, I remember really loving what I thought was the show’s theme song.  Today, I looked up the theme song to Dinosaurs on YouTube, and learned that what I THOUGHT was the theme song, wasn’t the theme song at all.  It was merely a song, and accompanying video, that was featured during one of the show’s episodes.  The actual theme song kind of sucked.  But THIS song was SO GOOD and SO FUNNY, that I’ve decided to share it with you instead . . .

7) Salute Your Shorts

By now, you already know how I feel about theme songs that  feature ridiculously bad and off-key singing.  So, of course, I simply had to include this theme song on the list, from a Nickelodeon show about a very poorly managed sleepaway camp . . .

8 ) Step by Step

Yet another installment from ABC’s TGIF lineup makes the list at Number 8.  Step by Step was kind of a revamped Brady Bunch for us ’90s kids to enjoy.  It starred Suzanne Somers — as the mom of a blended family — one who looked remarkably similar to Chrissy Snow from Three’s Company.

Around the time this was on the air, I was spending a lot of free time hanging out at amusement parks with my friends.  So, of course, I absolutely adored this amusement park-themed opening sequence.

9) Freaks and Geeks

I’m cheating a bit here, because I didn’t actually watch this show during its initial run.  Rather, I caught it recently on Netflix, and was amazed by how brilliant it was, and how many of its cast members (and writing staff) eventually went on to do bigger and better things.  If, by chance, you are interested in my take, on the show itself, you can find that here. 

However, right now, I am here to talk about its kick ass opening sequence, which features the rebel anthem Bad Reputation by Joan Jett, and accurately portrays the extreme awkwardness and pure horror that is Yearbook Picture Day!

10) What I Like About You

Even though it has been off the air for a few years now, I still enjoy watching repeats of this classic WB show about two very different sisters living under one roof, and navigating life and love in New York City.  On the surface, it looks like your typical cheesy teen romcom.  However, Jennie Garth and Amanda Bynes made the show way better than it should have been, with their amazing on-screen chemistry and fabulous comedic timing. 

But, of course, my favorite episodes of the show were the ones from later seasons.  After all, these focused on Amanda Byne’s character, Holly, and her relationship with on-again, off-again boyfriend, Vince, played by MY TV boyfriend, the painfully gorgeous, Nick Zano.  This guy doesn’t get nearly enough work these days in my opinion . . .

Oh, and did I mention that the show’s opening sequence features the cast riding and dancing around Times Square to the tune of Lilix’s awesome cover of the song What I Like About You?

So, there you have it folks — ten more TV theme songs to add to my collection of nostalgic television awesomeness.  Have I missed any of your favorites?

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Filed under 80s television, 90s television, music, television, TV theme songs