Pop-Culture | Posted by Julie Z on 08/15/2009

They tried that in the 90’s

Gossip Girl Gossip Girl

I’m always complaining about how Gossip Girl and 90210 and that crap are completely unrealistic to teenagers’ lives. They depict angst…but not the angst we feel – the superficial angst that everybody thinks we feel. The truth is boys, popularity and eating disorders are not all teenage girls stress over (though that is part of it…) but even more so than the topics explored, the characters in these shows don’t look like me or really act like me or anybody I know.

I’m not saying a little escapism here and there is a bad thing. I’m not going to sit on my high horse and say I don’t sometimes enjoy watching perfect faces and bodies do reckless things. But it would be nice if there was a little reality thrown in, too. 

I always say that I wish somebody would have the guts to make a T.V. show that more accurately depicts the teenage experience. But as it turns out, they tried that in the 90’s with My So Called Life and Freaks and Geeks. And it didn’t go so well. 

Both shows tried to break from the stereotypical teen show model and both lasted for only one season. However, they also both still have cult-like followings of kids who like watching something closer to their reality. 

Freaks and Geeks was actually produced by Judd Apatow. It stars Chutney from Legally Blonde (aka Linda Cardellini) and Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Busy Phillips and my favorite, James Franco (the man who has a perfectly symmetrical face). Basically, it follows a girl as she transitions socially from being a “mathlete” to an underachieving “freak,” and her little brother and his friends, who are “geeks.” 


My So Called Life

My So Called Life

My So Called Life stars Claire Danes and Jared Leto, who I used to be in love with but then completely lost interest in after learning that he fronts 30 Seconds to Mars. My So Called Life follows your everyday 15-year-old-girl as she tries to figure out what the hell she’s doing. 

The pilots are both below. While I don’t think either of these shows necessarily have feminist agendas, I think they’re honest. And I always like to give solutions to the problems I complain about so I feel better about 500+ words of whining. 





Freaks and Geeks

My So Called Life

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  • Katie @ at 1:21 pm, August 15th, 2009

    I have never felt the need to comment on any posts until today. I’m only 15 and had never even heard of Freaks and Geeks or MSCL until about a year ago when I started watching them on YouTube. They are honestly the best teen shows I have ever watched. Some people may find them boring, but life as a teen isn’t all hookups, expensive clothes, and lavish parties. Most teens grow up in suburbia and don’t have the most exciting lives. I think that’s what makes MSCL and Freaks and Geeks such amazing shows.

  • Brenna @ at 1:33 pm, August 15th, 2009

    Wow. I watched the “My So Called Life” Pilot and I love it. I even teared up at the end. And I think she looked even better after she dyed her hair. I might just have to track down the rest of the episodes.

  • K8 AH @ at 1:55 pm, August 15th, 2009

    My So Called Life was definitely one of the greatest shows ever! It came out when I was in 10th grade. Watching it was practically a ritual for my friends and I. Why do all of the good shows get cancelled??? Also, Canada has Degrassi which is pretty awesome! They tackle a lot of issues that you don’t see on other “teen shows.”

  • Warrior Two @ at 1:56 pm, August 15th, 2009

    I don’t think a lot of teens want to watch something that reflects their real life. You’re already living it day after day, what’s so entertaining about that? People are drawn to escapism. Although the shows might not directly reflect teenage life, they become a part of life that teenagers can share and talk about. That said, I was always a fan of My So Called Life, but unlike a lot of people I find most television awful.

  • Alex Catgirl @ at 2:31 pm, August 15th, 2009

    It’s a perspective issue, you relate more with the people in freaks and geeks or my so called life, I relate more to gossip girl’s crew, neither one of us is right or wrong. TV, movies, books, etc never paint an accurate portrayal of any group as it would be boring as hell and nobody would read/watch them.

  • Bruna @ at 10:01 pm, August 15th, 2009

    Well, what about Buffy?
    Which was, at least in the first seasons, “highschool as a Horror movie”, according to Joss Whedon (Joss-why-aren´t-you-asking-a-hundred-other-guys-why-they-DON´T-create-strong-women-characters-Whedon)…
    I often feel that some shows take themselves too seriously and end up slaping their audiences in the face with REAL!TEEN!DRAMA!!1!!1, which tends to be quite boring and superficial at best.
    Add a lot of sparkling stuff the audience can buy and you have Gossip Girl xP

  • tink @ at 3:31 am, August 16th, 2009

    Hey, what’s wrong with 30 Seconds to Mars?

  • Melanie @ at 1:44 pm, August 16th, 2009

    I just finished watching the entire season of “Freaks and Geeks” and it’s so good! I can’t understand why it got cancelled. It was so honest about teenage awkwardness, and how most times teenagers TRY to act like the cast of “Gossip Girl” and throw lavish parties, they usually don’t pan out neatly. Teenage life is gritty, but not always in an “I’m rich, white, and drink cocktails at the parties I go to” type of way.

  • Zow @ at 2:09 pm, August 16th, 2009

    I LOVEEEE both of these shows. I watched My So Called Life last summer and I rewatched Freaks and Geeks this summer. I absolutely love Freaks and Geeks (James Franco was a great bonus). And they really do show a more honest side to a teenager’s life. I wish both of these seasons would’ve gone further.

  • Jenna @ at 6:55 pm, August 16th, 2009

    My mom even used to watch Freaks and Geeks, and she would have been in her mid-30s when it was on TV.

    I like Gossip Girl, but really only because of the clothes. While the girls are pretty and kind of superficial, I think they could be considered strong female characters. The lead character, Blair, had high ambitions and planned on going to Yale. She broke up with her boyfriend after realizing he wasn’t right for her. Vanessa’s an activist. I think it just depends on how you look at it.

  • Lolita Hazed @ at 1:23 am, August 17th, 2009

    Buffy, for all its supernaturalness, is still really relatable– I see a little of myself in almost every member of the Scooby Gang. But you know what TV show I think got closest to my high school experience? Saved by the Bell. For the most part, these kids are just totally innocent, nothing super big goes down, but the darker issues that do come up on occasion in real life are not ignored.

    I kinda want that sort of show back.

  • Susana Mai @ at 9:08 pm, August 17th, 2009

    I completely agree, Gossip Girl is anything but a NYC teen’s life (after all, I’m one myself and O have no idea what they’re talking about). But at the same time, it’s entertaining, which makes it all the more unfortunate that it doesn’t accurately portray the way girls really act. After all, can’t real girls and their lives be entertaining too?

  • Talking on a Thursday « Susana Mai @ at 10:02 am, August 20th, 2009

    […] this show My So-Called Life after reading a post on a feminist website that is focused on teens, fbomb, which is, actually, an amazing show. The protagonist, Angela, is so endearing, so quirky, and just […]

  • Clai @ at 2:21 am, July 30th, 2010

    Have you not heard of the show skins? It’s English and a realistic show about teens.

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