Cheerleading squads, love triangles turned octagons, 30-year-old actors sporting backpacks: who doesn’t love unrealistic high school TV shows? High school can be a pretty dramatic place in real life, but the writers of these teen shows have taken some (absurd) liberties for the sake of entertainment.
When it comes to unrealistic teen dramas set in high school, you have plenty of binge-worthy options to choose from. Want over-the-top depictions of massive, booze-drenched parties? Try The O.C. Do you love the catty remarks of HBICs? Put on an episode of Riverdale, where the razor-sharp banter is actually the most relatable aspect of the whole thing. And then there are the bizarre takes on school itself. Did anyone actually have constant free periods like the kids do on 13 Reasons Why?
While the hallways and lockers might have you feeling nostalgic for your own alma mater, some of the plotlines will make you laugh, because they’re the least high school things on TV. From the cheesy to the weird, these tropes can be found in classic teen sitcoms and dramas as well as shows on the air today. Read on for the least realistic things in high school dramas.
Cool Rec Rooms Where You Can Just Hang Out
Most high school kids looking to hang can maybe find a corner by the staircase to huddle into for a second before being knocked into by a group of people running in the hallway. But the Riverdale kids get to casually investigate murder from the comfort of their very own game room, complete with vending machines, couches, and an air hockey table.
Other chill hang out areas you might spot in rich TV schools include courtyards, terraces, fountains, and gardens.
Massive Outdoor Parties With Underage Drinking
Lets be real, if you were drinking in high school, you were sipping on a water bottle of vodka stolen from your parents and you were doing it with maybe 10 people in a dingy unfinished basement. You WEREN’T throwing wild parties with hundreds of minors at your dad’s not-at-all secluded beach house, a la Nathan Scott of One Tree Hill or Holly Fischer of The O.C.
Extra ridiculousness points awarded if the kids hand out flyers for said party.
Everything About The School Dances
The gym did not look that good. People were not dancing like that. Everybody’s parents did not also attend the dance to relive their high school glory days or to “chaperone.” Nobody spiked a public punch bowl. Nobody gave a dramatic speech. There wasn’t a murderous vampire roaming the unlit hallways. Prom was pretty boring.
Sure, the clothes symbolize the character and the character’s social status/$$$$. And maybe in the case of Beverly Hills High, a level of designer clothing is realistic. But for everywhere else: where are all these middle class teen girls getting these perfectly accessorized ensembles they wear to school every day, and who is doing their hair? Where are the yoga pants and ratty T-shirts?
Zero Parental Supervision
According to teen TV shows, every town has one good, caring parent. A Karen Scott, if you will. A Rufus Humphrey. A Sandy Cohen. Every other parent is either a really, really bad parent, or they’re just gone, using a flimsy excuse of work or money to not live in the same city as their teenaged child. Absentee parents might be a thing, but an entire suburb of unsupervised teens living alone in mansions isn’t. On the bright side, without all those silly parents in the way, the underage drinking and sex can ensue without interruption!
Sneaking Into The School In The Middle Of The Night
Apparently all these high schools are so ancient that there’s just one master key lying around to break in. Like when the Gossip Girl gang broke into the school pool to throw a late night rager, despite their apparent access to elite hotels which probably had pools they could use. Or when good girl Rory Gilmore broke into the Chilton Dean’s office for some girl squad hazing, only to be caught less than two seconds later. Where are these students getting these keys? Do these incredibly wealthy prep schools have no cameras?
Do you know what would happen if one of your classmates died under suspicious circumstances every month? You would move! But no, the towns of high school teen dramas seem to be alright with the fact that a student dies or is seriously injured by a car crash, drug overdose, or psycho killer every now and again. They could even have their daughters terrorized by a violent anonymous stalker for years and still not consider moving! That’s community right there.
The Poor Kid
There might have been a “rich kid” or two at your high school. But you certainly didn’t all know the salary down to the dollar that your friend’s parents were raking in. And let’s be real, the key in high school was confidence, not money.
But in teen dramas, pretty much all the students have money except for Poor Kid. That’s right, there is only one poor kid who attends the otherwise elite high school and everybody knows just how poor he/she is. Favorite pastimes include wearing hoodies and frowning. The only person they ever have to commiserate with about their sad poor kid life is the rich-turned-poor-kid whose parents go broke around Season 2.
Student-Teacher Sexy Time
Okay, so this doesn’t not happen IRL, but the abundance of student/teacher relationships on teen shows is just concerning. Are all of these show writers harboring a hot-for-teacher fantasy? Too often viewers are just supposed to ignore that pesky little statutory rape element because the teacher is young and super attractive (looking at you, Ezra Fitz).
Said teacher is always gravely concerned about losing their job (at first), but soon throws caution/jail time to the wind so they can make out with their student on school grounds – where there are lots of windows and people around and they will inevitably be caught.
The Hot New Kid Who Causes Problems
If you had a new kid in your high school who happened to be in one of your classes, your teacher might introduce them and you might say hi. And that would most likely be that. If a new kid arrives in a TV high school, they will be incredibly attractive, they will become best friends with the cool kids immediately, they will shake up everything up, and then they will vanish as mysteriously as they appeared.
Weird Community Events
Serious question: do people constantly go to cotillion balls, or are they only that frequent on CW teen dramas? In addition to a debutante-centric episode, high school shows seem to have a lot of peculiar rituals/events for the entire town to attend. Other frequent favorites are charity fashion showsand auctioning people off for dates. Is this legal?
Sneaking In And Out Of Windows
You know what’s easier than scaling down the side of your house? Using the front door. If your parents aren’t going to wake up to the sounds of rocks being thrown at your window, or to someone climbing up your roof, or to you talking to/banging someone, they aren’t going to wake up to you sneaking down the stairs.
Away Game Debauchery
Remember away games in high school? When those involved would go to the away game, play the game, and then go back home? Think again! Why take those kids back home on the bus when you could have the entire school spend the night partying at a hotel? Those were the days.