Editorial Page

Driving Through Modern Teen Life From The Interstate

June 26, 2020,

Observing teen life from a distance, for those of us who currently are not one, is like driving down a major interstate without ever getting off.

You can look off of the highway to try and get a feel for the cities and towns that you pass through, but you will never remotely know what they are really like until you take the next exit, get off and not just drive through and around them, but live there.

Then you’ll know what it is like.

For most of us, compared to what it was like to be a youth in our teens, it’s too scary.

If you watch the landscape of current films that depict teen life in America, they’ll make you want to stay on the highway and only get off to order fast food, through the drive in, and keep going.

What electronic exit should we take?

Perhaps only the ones where we have viewed the film or television series first hand. Taken the exit off of the interstate, so to speak.

The first teen town is HBO’s Euphoria.

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We’re not sure that this one even looks safe from the highway.

Maybe drive through at night and keep your eyes straight ahead.

Here is HBO’s description of their riveting teen drama. “Following a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma and social media, the series will be executive produced by Drake, along with manager Future the Prince. The ensemble cast includes: actor and singer Zendaya, Maude Apatow (Girls), Angus Cloud, Eric Dane, Alexa Demie, Jacob Elordi, Barbie Ferreira, Nika King, Storm Reid, Hunter Schafer, Algee Smith and Sydney Sweeney (Sharp Objects).”

Now that our friends is like driving through a teen town and staying on the interstate without ever getting off. Keep reading the advertising billboards if you like. In real life do you really belief what you read on public advertisements?

In fact, listening to HBO here is like, not only staying on the highway, but also driving down it in a tourist bus where only the Tour Guide speaks with a smile.

Before we tell you what we thought, we desire a second opinion, first.

The reviewers at indiewire.com analyze, “Returning from a summer spent in rehab, after her younger sister found Rue covered in her own vomit from a nasty drug overdose — Rue is an addict, and a resilient one at that. Over the first four episodes, Rue repeatedly puts herself in dangerous situations, all in pursuit of the fleeting feeling of – not euphoria, but nothingness; an absence from the dreary existence that otherwise clouds her days.”

Is that direct enough?

And hey, you just got off at the first exit.

You haven’t even drove into downtown Euphoria.

There are depictions of rape, yes, lots of drug use, no one seems to date at all, just have sex and they bully one another endlessly.

Oh, then there is the old traditional teen standby.

They mostly hate their parents.

And why not. One of the fathers likes to have sex with teenage girls and is a massive bully himself.

Didn’t he get enough in high school?

Look, don’t get us wrong. Watching Euphoria was like slowly driving past a 20 car pileup. We couldn’t take our eyes off of it. From a distance. Safely on the interstate.

No getting off or out of the car.

We’re just glad as heck we don’t have to live there.

Then there is USA’s Dare Me.

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Just the title itself makes you not want to exit, even for gas, let alone a cheeseburger with bacon and onions, well done, a large order of garlic fries, with extra ketchup, a super thick strawberry shake, a coke with added sugar and a hot apple pie, still in the package.

Honey? Is that chocolate bar still in grocery bag?

Which version of Dare Me do you want to hear first?

Let us take that back. Do you want to get off of the interstate or stay in the car?

Hey, you let us pass the exit before responding. Okay, we’ll stay in the car first.

USA Network is our Tour Guide and they are smiling by showing you a lot of trailers without describing the grit on the street https://www.usanetwork.com/dare-me

Okay, let’s look for an exit.

Here we go. “Dare Me is an unflinching exploration of volatile female friendships, jealousy, loyalty and the dynamics of power in a small Midwestern town. Peering behind the all-American facade, the series dives into the cutthroat world of competitive high school cheerleading, following the fraught relationship between two best friends after a new coach arrives to bring their team to prominence. Part coming-of-age story, part small-town drama, part murder mystery, “Dare Me” exposes the physical and psychological extremes that some young women are willing to endure to get ahead.”

Not bad.

They did leave a few things out however.

The female coach is a chain smoker who routinely commits adultery on her husband but really loves her baby daughter. She allows the cheer squad to loosen up and party while she walks around like a steely eyed drill sergeant with secrets. Lots of secrets.

Oh, someone gets murdered too.

Wasn’t your teen years like that?

That’s happens in modern day teen life if you decide to stop being a tourist and get off of the interstate.

Look, we know what you’re thinking. Where can you find some nice family oriented teen flicks where you can have your children sit and watch them with you? We do say children because if you have teens, they probably won’t.

Well, we know they won’t. Ours sure didn’t.

Our temptation is to direct you to the Lifetime Movie Network that is indeed a little sanitized but they tend to also have a motley crew of psychos, stalkers, murderous cheerleaders, baby snatchers, lusty baby sitters, insane roommates, child molesters, sex traffickers, exam cheaters, Instagram call girls, teen Cam Girls, rapists and sanitized Dads who always say the perfect things and profusely apologize if they ever offend anyone.

Before they cheat on their wives with her best friend.

So we won’t direct you there.

We think we found the perfect network and the film just right for highway tourist.

It’s called Elevator Girl. On Hallmark.

Here is the highway billboard, “Modern Cinderella-romance where a young successful lawyer panics when he finds that he has fallen for a working-class girl.”

Sounds like scary stuff indeed.

We’ve never heard that storyline before. How original. The girl who wants to marry a handsome guy who says all of the right things, makes great money, has a power job and worships the blue collar concrete that she walks on.

Usually the beautiful little working class princess falls for the janitor, bus boy, waiter, asphalt remover, sanitation driver, fast food burger maker, auto mechanic apprentice, taxi cab engineer or pizza delivery guy.

So, when it comes to teen life, if you want to view it from a distance without getting your tourist map soiled while you eat your cheeseburger, please stay on the interstate, wear a tight neck brace and blinders and keep your eyes forward.

You should be fine.

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