Real teens, TV teens | January 23, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - January 23, 2009

Real teens, TV teens

by Maria Shen

I don't watch TV. But, uh, I do watch one highly embarrassing show - Gossip Girl. I received the first season of Gossip Girl on DVD for Christmas from one of my friends and have been unable to stop watching. The cover itself is promising. Six happy, beautiful young people hold hands and cell phones against the bright backdrop of Manhattan lights. In the show, a ring of wealthy, private school students stirs up drama as they bar-hop and bed-hop.

I took a sneak peak of what's happening on the second season (I'm very behind compared to long-term Gossip Girl fans). What I saw from the recent episode summary does not disappoint: Serena (Blake Lively) is having a blast in Buenos Aires. Blair (Leighton Meester) slept with her sort-of boyfriend's uncle on New Year's. And, Chuck (Ed Westwick), Blair's sort-of boyfriend, returns to school after having disappeared to Thailand.

I know, I know, it's stupid, but I'm not the only one who watches this show. Season Two of Gossip Girl has averaged 3.19 million viewers per new episode. I can't even imagine what others must think of people my age when they watch this show. The truth is, if I really wanted to watch a TV show about regular teens ... I wouldn't. Unless, of course, I was really keen on being bored to death.

What does an episode of a real Danville teen's life look like, you ask? Well, when we come home from school and shut ourselves in our rooms, what we're doing is only mysterious and exciting to an outsider. In reality, we're either browsing Facebook, chatting with friends, doing homework, or all three. I don't have enough money to jet off to Los Angeles, much less Thailand or Buenos Aires. This weekend, I alternated between watching "Star Wars," reading "The Brothers Karamazov," and finishing up a charcoal, black-and-white piece I'm drawing. I used to have enough money to go to the theater or visit Berkeley, but since the economy took a nosedive and my mom lost her job, I've been living more frugally.

I don't think real teen lives can ever make it on TV even though some of us are reasonably amusing. (I sing in the shower. Other teens can cartwheel. Some juggle.) I wonder if shows like Gossip Girl give middle school students a misleading view of high school life. It does seem to me that children are growing up faster these days. When I go to Stoneridge mall, I have to do a double-take every time an 8- or 9-year-old girl walks past me with giant Victoria's Secret and Abercrombie bags half her size.

But, I'll be fair. Shows like Gossip Girl don't only have an effect on young, unsuspecting minds. I do eye my wardrobe more critically after each episode, noting the lack of designer brands like Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana. And I also wish my hair were a lot smoother. But, ah, I shall not give in to the unreasonable societal pressure. Especially since I have finals to worry about instead - something I don't think the high schoolers on Gossip Girl ever had to take.

Maria Shen, reporting on Generation Y, is a senior at Monte Vista High School. She founded Contra Costa County's Young Bohemians creative writing club and is editor of Voicebox, a literary magazine. E-mail her at


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