Monday, December 13, 2010

TV for Teens/Tweens

Being the pop-culture nerd I am (and the procrastinator that I am), I've spent a good amount of time watching shows on the Disney Channel, and for the most part it's a pretty bleak view of what girls have for options as TV shows. I've seen an embarrassing amount of Hannah Montana episodes (okay... I like Miley Cyrus), and while I'm glad that Hannah/Miley has a female friend, Lily, on the show, a lot of their time on the show is spent by scheming, weird plans, general ditziness... blah blah. Nothing new. They have two ditzy enemies... I don't think it's a particularly evil show, but it's just not doing anything for girls. The current Good Luck Charlie and Life with Derek (2005-2009) both feature stories about expanding families in which the oldest girl sibling (an up-tight perfectionist) has to take on more responsibility as the oldest male sibling goofs off. Life with Derek I found to be kind of funny although clichéd, but I just can't sit through Good Luck Charlie without a rage blackout. Or just turning it off.

The Suite Life and The Suite Life on Deck are about the male twin protagonists and their childish ventures into getting girlfriends and feature a lot of cliché TV situations... I don't know Sonny with a Chance super well, but it seems to involve a lot of situations between nice-girl (brunette) Demi Lovato and the diva-y blonde character.

Nickelodeon's iCarly is one show that I do actually like. I haven't seen a ton of episodes, and at first I was not a huge fan of Miranda Cosgrove (the uptight student from School of Rock), but I grew to really like the show and the message. First of all, I like that it's a show about three friends who make a webcast TV show. This is showing kids at home that there are things you can do on your own with the power of the internet. And the show within the show features real kids who send in stuff to the iCarly website. I really like this type of involved media, and it's teaching kids a good lesson about work ethic and how you can create media when you feel like there's something that you want or can add. I also really like the character Sam Puckett (played by Jennette McCurdy).

While she may appear to be your typical blonde TV teen, Sam is bitingly sarcastic, obsessed with eating, and athletic to a point of violence. There's one episode where Sam wants to date some kid in their school but doesn't know how to get his attention. Carly then "girlifies" Sam (teaches her to chew with her mouth closed, not eat things out of the trash, not beat people up, etc.), which for about 10 minutes I watched, horrified, that Nickelodeon was letting this happen, but by the end of the show, Sam is back to her own ways, and triumphantly beats a bully up to save Carly while her date walks in to see the scene. Instead of rejecting Sam, he thinks it's cool. So I'm really happy about this depiction of teenage girlhood on television. There are a lot of sassy/"sarcastic" teenage girl characters, but there are fewer shows with writers who can write the lines well enough and actresses who can pull them off in a convincing way. So there's a lot of unnecessary sass out there. But I think iCarly is well done, and am glad for the young girls who get to watch it and have these strong female characters to look up to.

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