5 Ways Television Lied To You

With the recent release of many TV subscription services in Australia, I’ve been bingeing in an unholy way on American trash TV. Beverly Hills, Friday Night Lights, Pretty Little Liars, Degrassi New Class… I’m out of control and I love it. However, there are a few regular plot holes I’ve noticed in almost every show that I find to be very poor representations of real life. I know they’re TV shows and I know they need story drivers but on the whole, US television needs to know the damage they’re doing to impressionable young minds.

Lie #1 – Teenagers are incapable of drinking alcohol without ending up in a stranger’s bed/a police station/a hospital

I drank all the tequila when I was sixteen and woke up with nothing more than a dry mouth and a hangover. Obviously, it’s not terribly responsible to spruik uneventful and casual underage drinking but the way the US tv shows depict teen drinking is rather sensationalist. A typical ‘Hey kids don’t drink booze!’ storyline could include such activities as driving drunk, having sex with multiple people in one night, losing their virginity in very unsavoury circumstances, poisoning the next door neighbour’s dog or telling everyone their sister is really their mum. It’s stretching it just a tad. Also if you slip someone alcohol at a party they’ll get wasted really easily and embarrass themselves or they’ll have a threesome with you. Every. Single. Time. Of course, all of these scenarios are possible but they’re pretty rare. When my mates and I drank in high school the worst thing we ever did was puke in the bushes.

Reference: The episode in Beverly Hills 90210 where Donna Martin gets wasted for the first time ever in her life and for some strange reason on those grounds is unable to graduate from high school. BECAUSE DRINKING HAS CONSEQUENCES. But don’t fret petals. The students of Beverly High had a Save Donna Martin rally and all was forgiven. Of course.

Lie #2 – There’s endless time in every day

A typical day in the life of an American television character might include a session of morning studying, followed by a long in-depth conversation with her parents, then a full school day, with a rehearsal at lunchtime, school newspaper meeting after school, hocky practice after that, a shift at the local coffee shop where she works, a study date with her super hot boyfriend, a leisurely sit down dinner with her parents, the completion of a huge school paper that’s due the next day, the watching of a comedy movie with her BBF and then all tucked up in bed by midnight when her super hot boyfriend climbs through the window for a bit of a dry hump before sleep time. She will also have had time to apply a full face of makeup and tidy her giant bedroom to anal retentive standards. It’s literally and physically impossible to do all of those things in one day.

Reference: Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars. I shit you not, that chick must have a Tardis. (I’m a Whovian now. Just FYI.)

Lie #3 – You will definitely have a sheet-clutching orgasm the first time you have sex

The depiction of first-time sex in La La Land is often a gross misrepresentation of what it was actually like for every other living person on the planet. There’s candlelight, slow unbuttoning of shirts, whispers of love, long lingering kisses and then inevitably the gal is left writhing around on the sheets, having her first delightful, yet rather shocking orgasm. However, this scenario is reserved only for good little girls who wait for the right guy. Everyone else has to lose it on a golf course to some guy they met at a party and then deal with the word ‘SLUT’ being written all over their locker the next day at school. Such bollocks. Sex is great but the first time it’s kind of awkward and usually funny. Also if you know of any woman who had a back arching orgasm the very first time she had sex, please send me her email address as I would like to buy her a congratulatory cocktail.

Reference: Joey Potter sweetly losing her virginity to Pacey in Dawson’s Creek vs Kelly Taylor losing her V-plates to ‘Some guy in the woods who didn’t even put down a blanket.

Lie #4 – No one is ever in a rush in the morning

In American TV shows, the characters get these little pockets of morning time that real people just don’t get. They have time to curl their eyelashes, squeeze fresh orange juice, have lengthy conversations with their mother about how much the school play is eating into her study time, fold 400 flyers for the school carnival that coming weekend and then casually bake a batch of friands for French class. I have never in my life met a teenager that eats breakfast, fully clothed, sitting at a table while conversing audibly with another human. At least not pre-10am.

Reference: Any episode of Full House. DJ Tanner could get more shit done in the fifteen minutes before she left for school than I can get done in three days.

Lie #5 – If someone is gossiping you will definitely overhear them. Probably in the girls toilet.

The amount of sensitive information that is loudly discussed in American TV school toilets is beyond ridiculous. If I was a character on a teen drama I’d set up camp in one of the toilet stalls and be the first to get the scoop. That’s where I’d find out that Stacey cheated on the history test and that Jason gave that new girl chlamydia. In real life, people know how to whisper and not have incriminating and very audible conversations in public toilets where there’s plenty of room for people to hide and listen to everything you say.

Reference: Most episodes of Degrassi High Next Gen. Most things people say in toilets at Degrassi gets filmed on a ‘video phone’ and emailed around the school. Such technology. Much sharing.

What have you seen on TV shows that have made you go WTF?

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  1. Lauren 7 years ago

    I was only chatting about this yesterday! Ive been binging on Friday Night Lights in an unhealthy way- the lack of parental supervision, the ease of buying beer and the drinking driving bother me to know end!!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Oh totally! All the teenagers just go and buy beer from the store. It’s not like it’s a huge town and no one knows who they are. Also how easily all the teenagers just get jobs there. Half the parents are unemployed – how are the kids getting all the jobs?

  2. Amber 7 years ago

    Yes, but it’s a small town in Texas 😉

  3. Amy 7 years ago

    For all that American TV shows seem very puritanical about alcohol, there’s an awful lot of drink driving! And I agree about the endless time in the day. British soaps are the same, everyone gets tons done before breakfast!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      That’s so true – their alcohol tolerance sucks as well. Julie Taylor has one beer and she can’t even stand up straight.

  4. When I was a teen (good grief I feel old suddenly) My friends and I religiously watched Dawson’s Creek. I wanted my life to be just like that!!!! Over the summer we met up again (we’re all 30 something mums) and decided to watch an episode again for old times sake. Oh my goodness! So painful. So needlessly antsy. Thank god my life was not actually like that. It was totally hilarious though.

  5. Maraya@stuffmumslike 7 years ago

    Ha we talk about this all the time. How about teenage girls never wearing the same thing twice? And looking like super models every day. On PLL it’s 6 inch heals and new clothes every day. (Side note- why do they dress Alison like a middle aged woman just because she ended up being slightly plumper than the others?!!)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      That’s so true! It’s like they dress her out of Katies or something. I do like seeing someone slightly plumper on the show though. Especially after Paige halved in size in the space of a season.

  6. chrisatpb 7 years ago

    I love how “life or death” situations can be prolonged indefinitely to allow the hero to reach the scene and save the day. Xx

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Yes! I’m like – how did it take you so damn long to get there???

  7. JessB 7 years ago

    Hilarious! I love that you referenced specific examples for each of these too, that was ace!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      I over think a lot of the things I watch. I legit take notes.

  8. KellyNH 7 years ago

    Im still blown away by how much Ferris Bueller achieved in a day, and by how far the news of his illness spread in a day without the assistance of the internet!!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Oh my god yes! He does so much stuff in the day!

  9. Hahah, gold! Especially the old school BH90210 references. Degrassi was so huge but I always liked Press Gang the best as a teen (who am I kidding, I have the entire series on box set and love it to this day), it was less overwrought with The Big Issues (fun fact: written by Steven Moffat, current writer of Doctor Who)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      I love Steven Moffat – I’ve never watched the press gang it sounds amazing!

  10. gill 7 years ago

    You’ve got to watch Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries. Those teenagers drink copious amounts of spirits without hangovers.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Yes! And drugs – this Gossip Girl kids barely sleep!

  11. Deborah 7 years ago

    I wrote something recently about diversity on the screen and it was about more than race and gender – but about body diversity. TV tells you that you can’t be in love or loved unless you’re a perfect shape. Unless your partner is also big and you’re both hilarious!

  12. Dee 7 years ago

    The time thing also gets me! I always watch Gilmore Girls have a leisurely morning at home, then go to Luke’s for a big breakfast, then it’s off to school! Then Lorelai does a bunch of things around town and says, ‘It’s already 10am!’ What? HOW? HOW DO I GET MAGICAL HOURS?

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Yes and they grab breakfast at Luke’s like it’s supposed to be a time saver. There’s no way a cafe breakfast is quicker than making yourself a piece of toast at home.


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