Confession time: This winter/spring, when I would come home after a long week at work and sit on the couch to catch up on my TV — what was my most cherished item on the DVR? Riverdale. I’m embarrassed to admit that my favorite thing to watch starred actors all at least 5 years younger than me playing characters over 10 years younger than me.
Now just to levelset — my DVR kind of sucked this year. There was very little on network/non-premium cable TV that really did much for me, but even so, why was it that a pretty poorly scripted teen soap made it as a favorite? I guess you’d have to say I’m predictable.
I remember my first foray into primetime television. And even then, when my mom suggested we start watching a “family show” on Sunday nights — it was still airing at 7 PM. Nevertheless, upon starting 7th Heaven at age 10, I went WB and never went back.
I could spend this entire blog post confessing some of the weirder things I did during my different TV obsessions (anyone else cut out every single blurb in TV guide about their favorite show? I didn’t think so), however, I’m more interested in the fact that my love of television about teenagers has stayed with me long past my own teenage years. This is particularly interesting when teen television has gotten significantly worse.
Yesterday, I was listening to a Pop Culture Happy Hour episode from earlier this year that covered Riverdale. Everyone trashed it, and I respected almost everything they said. This made me wonder: why then did I still adore show? Perhaps it was the reminiscence to Dawson’s Creek. As the podcast mentioned — so much of Riverdale called back to Dawson’s Creek’s storylines. Perhaps it was my nostalgia for reading Archie comics on Shabbat afternoons at camp. But I really don’t think either of those things are the driving factor.
This past weekend, I binged on the new Freeform show (I still want to call it ABC Family), Famous In Love. It isn’t good by any means. Whereas I at least found Riverdale compelling with some intriguing storylines (and a still very hot but old Luke Perry), this one really didn’t have it. However, I’m going to admit — it hooked me. And that made me wonder — why, when teen drama/soaps were so much better in my own teenage years, am I still hooked?
I am still contemplating my answer to this question, however I have one theory: drama. In today’s world, top dramas are represented by fantastical storylines, period pieces, and lots and lots of blood. I have never been one for action– I would much prefer a book that is all dialogue to one that has any number of pages without characters conversing. I don’t appreciate choreographed violence (although I do recognize the skill in that acting). And while I do love the thrill of a good mystery or a crazy plot twist, I would rather watch two people talk to each other about nothing. There are very few shows on TV that center around people talking to one another. There are even fewer that are actually good (see– my all-time favorites). So maybe that’s my draw to the sappy teen dramas — it’s one of few genres that still focuses on the mundane conversation.
Or perhaps I really just love the love triangles of 22 year old high school sophomores.