As anyone who knows me at all knows, I love teen TV. (Which is why I’ve blogged about it here!) So when my fabulous CP Maggie posted about it for Monday Pep Rally on YAMF I obviously had to give it its own post here. While you should obviously check out Maggie’s original post and respond there, I’ll copy her question here, which was: What TV shows do you love? Have any of them influenced your writing? And of course, my answer is ALL OF THEM. Just kidding. Sort of.Of course, Maggie already covered the number one show I would kill to emulate as a YA writer (again, things I have blogged about!) but there are so many great teen shows, characters, and/or storylines worth checking out. Here are a few of my faves:
Switched at Birth – Yes, the actual switched-at-birth storyline is compelling in its own way and particularly in the way it really examines what it means to be “family,” but to me the most interesting part of the show is its huge emphasis on deaf culture. One of the girls switched at birth lost her hearing at the age of 3, and her best friend is a guy who was born deaf to deaf parents. As such, there’s considerable examination of the way others respond to them, the challenges they face, unique aspects of being deaf, and ways in which they make a resistant world work for them. And yes, this show 100% influenced my decision to give a main character in my next ms a deaf parent.
Degrassi – There is no single show on TV that could ever even hope to cover as many issues as Degrassi, from abortion to date rape to coming out to STDs to abuse to seriously every single thing you can think of. Though it’s abandoned its old style for a “Every storyline is insane and wrapped up in two episodes!” one that’s made me stop watching, even now Degrassi continues to do what it does best: showcase things no one else will touch. Case in point, their featuring TV’s only transgender character, Adam Torres, played by Jordan Todosey. If you’re writing any teen issue, it’s probably worth checking out how Degrassi did it first. Because trust me – they did it first.
Pretty Little Liars – OK, maybe it’s not the most “inspirational” TV, per se, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and at least the characters generally feel like (four very different archetypes) of teenagers. Bonus points for having a lesbian PoC as one of the MCs!
Make It or Break It but really Payson Keeler – Yes, I loved the show Make It or Break It as a whole, but what really drew me into it was the character of Payson, played by Ayla Kell. Payson was just so driven, so seemingly immune to regular teenage BS, so in tune with her goals and ready to put in all the work to make them happen, and so in love with the sport of gymnastics, that I found it impossible not to be compelled by her every move. She was just so different from the typical portrayal of a teenager, so simultaneously passionate and levelheaded. Eventually they sorta ruined her and then the show got canceled, but season 1 Payson remains one of my favorite teen characters on TV, and if I ever write a book about some sort of virtuoso, I know I’ll be drawing on her for inspiration.
90210 – This show is nothing like anything and should never be emulated, but I did totally rip off the name and likeness of Liam (played by Matt Lanter) for BtS, so I have to give it a shoutout.