Saturday, February 4

Grownup Girls and Teen TV

Nerve's Kara Jesella delves into the odd phenomenon of grown women who watch teen tv. In a survey from Business Week, it was revealed that shows such as The OC, Smallville and Laguna Beach, while being marketed to the thirteen-to-thirty-four bracket, maintains an average viewer age of thirty-seven. What the magazine article did not say, and which the writer inferred mostly from anecdotal evidence, was that this "age-inappropriate audience is mostly female, urban, smart, creative, professional."

Here is an entire generation of females who obssess about adolescence. Jessela explains that it's partly because partly because "they saw their high school selves in the awkward, sensitive, precocious Molly Ringwalds and Claire Danes and Mary Stuart Mastersons." These are young women who knew early on that they're going to do fab as adults, girls who couldn't wait to escape the "tyranny of proms and pimples."
Are we masochists, intent on punishing ourselves for our present successes? Were our own adolescent emotions so complex that it's comforting to see them simplified, soap-opera-style? Do we all have some deep primal longing to be skinny and pretty and have all of the boys like us?
And yet when they're finally out there, in the real world, they tune in and watch young actresses the equivalent of the popular girls in their own high schools. One explanation that the author offers is that these young women have absorbed a camp aesthetic from their gay friends, who probably weren't really out in high school, and watching teen shows allows the castaways, the losers, the nerdy girls and effem boys to reimagine life with themselves in all the best roles.

But I'm more inclined to think that the phenomenon of grown girls stocking up on the complete Buffy DVDs, quoting John Hughes and crushing on Seth Cohen has less to do with the "nostalgia of reliving the good old days." It's more of a delayed reaction, of finally dealing with the trauma of young adulthood when it's now just a mirage, something irretrievable and can only be relived on Thursday nights and DVDs on slow weekends.

Now please excuse me while I tune in to my weekend fix of The OC.

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