By: Kylie J.

Who is the Author/Speaker?

By Courtesy of Dean Rodgers

Mina Le is a popular social commentator and content creator who creates YouTube video essays, in which she discusses the impact of history on current fashion and pop culture. Her video format sparked a significant rise in video essays pertaining to fashion and pop culture trends. Mina Le has amassed over 1 million followers on YouTube and continues to grow her page daily. Le’s unique style has helped boost her popularity for the signature look she has adapted, her iconic pencil-thin brows, and lacy wear inspired by a mix between the regency and 1980s New Romantic Era, with the occasional lacy wear in business attire.

Summary: The Problem With Teen Dramas

Courtesy of Mina Le Youtube

Mina Le’s unique approach to different issues within fashion and pop culture has helped further alter my stance on many issues. This even accounts for issues that I had no reason to believe were toxic to society. How she develops the ideas with prior knowledge or statistical data from credible sources in every video to defend her stance has made her vary from other creators within the same window. A recent video posted by the expressive creator delves into issues of teen dramas. As many people in my age bracket (including me) enjoy teen TV dramas, the video essay struck me for its relatability. The problems that are so commonly ignored by the drama audience were brought to the forefront by Mina. 

Her overall purpose in the video essay was to discuss the negative representations of teen characters in teen TV dramas. Her primary focus was the problem encompassing adult actors being allowed to play teenage characters and how this simple age-altering could eventually lead to exploitation not only on set but in real life. She provides current examples and data to show how this behavior could negatively affect teens' perception of what content is inappropriate. This is in terms of body image, negative glorification of drugs/mental health, unrealistic beauty standards, overglamourization of sex, and trauma or unsafe practices.

The question I essentially proposed after further thought was, how do teen dramas create impossible expectations by portraying relationships and sexualization of teenagers?

Teen dramas, according to Mina Lee, frequently foster ingrained ideals about drugs, sexuality, relationships, and physical appearance. Relationship expectations glorify a dramatic, intense romance that places desire above self-stability. Extreme highs and lows are common for characters, which might not be consistent with the more steady growth of relationships in real life. The emphasis on grand gestures, constant reassurance, and unattainable levels of romance can lead teenagers to believe that intense dynamics are the norm. In reality, healthy relationships require communication, trust, and emotional maturity, which may be overshadowed by the exaggerated drama depicted in these shows. 

Furthermore, idealized environments and the appearance of individuals with faultless features may contribute to an unachievable standard of lifestyle and appearance. This promotes resentment amongst teenagers who feel pressured to conform to the idealistic expectations set forth by such teen dramas. Teen dramas contribute to the impossible expectations of portraying addiction in ways that oversimplify or glamorize the experience. These shows may present substance abuse as a dramatic or even romanticized element that downplays the harsh realities and complexities associated with addiction. Characters struggling with addiction might be depicted as instantly overcoming challenges or finding a resolution within a short time frame. Fostering unrealistic expectations about the recovery process of addictive behaviors without adequate exploration of the underlying causes of the long-term consequences can mislead viewers about the effects. This lack of importance on the topic may give the impression that overcoming addiction is straightforward when in reality it requires sustained effort, support, and often professional intervention. 

Teen dramas run the risk of misrepresenting the significance of this subject to their audiences, which could affect how they approach it and how they prepare for it. Several television programs have come under fire for sensationalizing and glamorizing harmful habits among youth, including drug misuse, self-destructive tendencies, and unsafe sexual behavior. Shows like Euphoria, for instance, seek to highlight important topics related to the process of growing up in high school, however, it significantly entails an overdone, sexualized, inappropriate, and sensationalized plot that does not accurately represent the majority of teenagers.

Courtesy of IMDB

This may lead to inadequate expectations and influence impressionable viewers that these kinds of behaviors are normal or even acceptable. The show's intention to increase awareness and educate viewers about the difficulties experienced by teenagers may be compromised by the glamorization of these negative traits as it contributes to the normalization of dangerous behaviors without establishing repercussions or consequences properly. The teens are never seen studying for school but are instead shown doing illegal activities without facing any problems academically. 

The age problem is again brought back into focus by Le. She suggests that the shows should just be set in a university setting, “I feel like teenagers are a fetish for grown people who hate their early teens,” states Le. The shows are written, produced, and created by grown adults, childhood innocence is completely lost and diminished through the lens of the adults. For example, Euphoria glamorized a storyline about an underage character named Kat, who becomes a cam girl in search of self-confidence. This as a result boosts the idea of the male gaze and every woman being presented as a sexual object. The idea could have been presented in a better way morally if Kat had received some sort of backlash or a revelation that she does not need male validation to become the level of confidence that she so desperately wanted. This is not saying that teenage girls do conform to male validation, this is specifically speaking in the sense that they do not glamourize the effects and outcome as it is with Kat in Euphoria. The morality of the shows are put to question when a grown man directs teenage girls in sexualized scenes. This perception of teenage girlhood is tainted by the male gaze, because of his status as a rich, white man. The glorification of sex, relationships, and drugs is unrealistic and dangerous for young people to consume.

Mina Le does an accurate analysis of teen drama issues in today's society and how they have an impact on teenagers and young adults today. Watching the video for yourself will introduce you to a broader view of the issues of teen dramas. 

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