I didn’t want to write this. There are plenty of other sites to read about this show. But I’m not getting anything done so I guess I need to get this out of the way. I’m not going to take time to summarize or comment on filming etc. You can read other posts for all of that.
There are two sides quickly emerging on this show: Those who are adamantly against it on one side and millions of high school girls (and maybe boys) on the other who have watched it and probably read the book and experience some form of it every day.
I’m going to point out my 13 issues with the show but don’t stop until you get to the end.
- The “F” word is used 258 times. I don’t know if that is 100% accurate. It feels like it was said 5 million times to me. If you don’t hang around high schoolers its not the “F” word that we grew up. Our “F” word was really bad. Today it is just a word that comes out with every other word.
2. Gay issues. Regardless of how you feel on this subject it’s here now. Our generation didn’t discuss it past “ewww”. This generation is bombarded with it and they need to make decisions on it. This show has at least 6 people dealing with it and everyone else around them needs to deal with it too.
3. No communication with parents. Zero. Not one kid in this show has an honest life giving relationship with their parents. Is this realistic? If it is realistic we are doomed. I didn’t count how many times parents said to their children: “You’re a good kid”. Yeah parents – your kid is good, it’s everyone else’s kids that are “bad”.
4. No honest supportive relationships with friends. At best they are superficial. At worst they are selfish, hateful, confused and abusive. The relationships are a means to an end and everyone is fighting to get to the top. What is the top by the way?
5. Pre-marital sex. Pretty similar to the “F” word – there’s a lot of it and “everyone” is doing it. No signs of birth control. No signs of protection from disease. No healthy relationships – it’s just jump in the bed.
6. Rape. Not one rape but two. It’s graphic and it’s brutal and it makes your stomach turn.
7. Drugs. This is not a druggy show. There is some drug usage but that isn’t the main point. In some ways the issues would be easier to accept if drugs were the starting problem.
8. Alcohol. What ever was missed in the way of drug usage, alcohol took its place. There was more drinking in this series than I have done in my lifetime. Add this to the previous 7 points and it makes life a drunk driving exercise.
9. There is N0 God in this show. Hear me out – there is nothing close to spiritual enlightenment beyond the spirits in the bottle. Some critics see this as the main reason not to watch this. I see it as a reality in many teens lives. Maybe it is the worst point in all of this mess. Maybe it is the cause for all the other ones. There is no Truth and there are no Absolutes.
10. Jealousy and hatred. Yes. A lot of it.
11. Lack of understanding from adults. Same goes with the audience. The response I get from teenagers about this are totally different from responses I get from adults. Teenagers simply say “Yes it happens”. Adults try to explain everything going on so they can understand it.
12. Lies. I told my kids “if you do something wrong at least admit it. If you lie about it, it only makes it much worse.” Yes. There is a lot of lying with everyone in this show.
13. Violence. Slapping, hitting, hitting again, threats, oh and more hitting. I guess everyone is angry about the first 12 items on the list.
Oh, I forgot. The big issue in this show is a teen suicide. This time it is not romanticized or just spoken about. This is HD living color, brutal, ugly, screaming, bloody suicide. Let me put it this way – I covered my eyes. I couldn’t watch. I probably should have cried. I was already depressed from watching the show – this just put me over the edge.
Friends have said to me, “how can you watch that?” You see if you don’t know me I was one of the parents in episode 13. My wife walked into our son hanging by a wire. My wife was the one yelling to me to come. I was the one picking him up telling him to come back saying “No no no no”. One critic of the show makes a point that his neighbor did this at age 16 so he understands. No you don’t. I had friends that committed suicide. It’s awful. But there is no comparison to picking up a dead child that seemed fine a minute ago. By choice they are now dead. There is no way to understand. Their battles are done, yours are just beginning.
In one minute you are angry about water running over the tub into the hallway. The next you are facing a life devastation that you will never fully recover from. How do you reconcile that in your mind?
Here is a good place to breathe….
I am not a psychologist. I am not running stats on whether this show is helping or hurting the teenagers. I can say if you are a parent you might want to watch this. It is awful and it is depressing and it will make you feel terrible. Do it anyway. You may even want to watch it with your teenager.
Hug your children today and do your best to fight or understand all 14 of these issues. It’s that important.