The Televised Guide to Teen Girls In Love


Welcome to “Stereotypes My TV Taught Me”, a place where we discuss what we’ve learned from watching endless hours of movies and television. This week, we’re going to explore the perilous world of teen love. Throughout the years, TV has shown us that teen girls can fall in love with all kinds of boys-stupid ones, sweet ones, gay ones, jerky ones- and that the process can be super fun but also full of obstacles. According to pop culture, these are the five major roadblocks that prevent teen girls from having a long-lasting relationship. Coincidentally, these roadblocks also prove that when you’re young, love is seriously blind.

Teen Relationship Problem # 1: I’m Not A Virgin & My BF Can’t Handle It!

Example: Jen Lindley and Dawson Leery from Dawson’s Creek

Dawson’s Creek was a complicated show with complicated dialogue and complicated relationships. But before we were subjected to the ultimate complication that was Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Joey (Katie Holmes), we were given the relationship of Dawson and Jen (Michelle Williams) to snack on. Jen hailed from the big scary city of New York and came to Capeside under the guise of taking care of her sick grandfather. Dawson immediately fell in lust with her big blonde hair and her big beautiful blondeness and pushed his poor lovesick brown-haired best friend, Joey, aside to pursue her. Jen liked him back and at first, things were hunky-dory between the two. They held hands, pouted and talked solely in four-syllable words to each other. Things changed, however, when Jen revealed to Dawson that the real reason she was in Capeside was because her parents caught her having sex. The news of Jen’s lack of virginity turned out to be a complete boner kill for Dawson and it transformed her from Madonna to Whore in a single episode. Being a virgin himself, Dawson was threatened by Jen’s sexual experience so he decided to dump her and run into the chaste arms of Joey-inspiring a devastated Jen to retreat to the bottle and regress back to her wild NYC ways. Interestingly enough, Dawson ended up losing his V-card to Jen-not Joey- when they were in college but at that point, no one cared or watched the show.

Teen Relationship Problem # 2: My Boyfriend Is A Serious Jerk And Tried To Murder My Family!

Example: David McCall and Nicole Walker in Fear

Fear is a story of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy goes insane and tries to murder girl’s family. Specifically, it’s about a teenager named Nicole (Reese Witherspoon) who falls in love with David (Mark Whalberg), an older guy she meets at a rave who has an uncanny resemblance to Marky Mark circa his Calvin Klein underwear ads. The two begin the ultimate teen romance by making out in public, taking photobooth pictures, and in one particularly endearing moment, getting to second base on a rollercoaster. But then things start to get a little cray cray. Consumed with delusional jealousy, David beats up Nicole’s best friend, Gary, after mistakenly thinking that he was trying to kiss her. To top off the bad boyfriend behavior, he also accidentally/on purpose gives Nicole a black eye when she tries to intervene on the smackdown. For a second, it seems like physical abuse is enough to put an end to the relationship but then you realize that would be impossible because the movie’s not even at the halfway mark. So the script forces Nicole to reconcile with him and block out his brush with terrifying insanity. Things are fine between the two for about four scenes until Nicole eavesdrops on a party and sees David force her best friend, Margo (Alyssa Milano), to have sex with him. Horrified, Nicole decides that David raping her best friend totally crosses the line and decides to break-up with him. (Weirdly, she also blames Margo for getting raped but that kind of victim-shaming seems to belong on another list entirely). She dumps David but quickly realizes she’s not getting away that easily because, you know, he’s crazy. He starts to harass her, threaten her friends and in a last desperate attempt to show that he loves her, he gathers his friends and they break into her house to kill her family. Fortunately though, he fails and he and his sexy Boston accent end up dead-leaving Nicole with a boatload of trauma and lifetime trust issues.

Teen Relationship Problem # 3: My Boyfriend Is Hot But Emotionally Unavailable. He Also Can’t Read.

Example: Jordan Catalano and Angela Chase from My So-Called Life

My So-Called Life is one of the few TV shows that got adolescence right. The relationship between Angela (Claire Danes) and Jordan (Jared Leto), in particular, was portrayed with unflinching honesty. Angela is a classic intelligent over-achiever who gets a crush on the beautiful screw-up at her school. From the beginning, it’s obvious that she can do better. In ten years, she’ll have a successful career and he’ll still be playing in a crappy band in their hometown and have two babies to ignore. She’ll wonder what she ever saw in him and then she’ll realize, “Oh, yeah. He looked like Jared Leto.” But in high school, one doesn’t have that kind of clarity. For four years, mysterious gorgeous boys like Jordan have the power while girls like Angela fade into the background and indulge their every whim. During the entire series, Jordan jerks her around, ignoring her at school, pressuring her to have sex, and even spelling her name incorrectly in notes. But in a way, it all makes Angela love him even more. This unhealthy dynamic is something that most people experience at some point in their lives but in high school, you’re particularly vulnerable to it because you sort of hate yourself and don’t know your self-worth. At the end of the day though, it’s not that Jordan didn’t love Angela; it’s that his emotionally inept teenage self didn’t know how to love her.

Teen Relationship Problem # 4: My Boyfriend Is A Snoozefest But After My Last Relationship, I Needed Some Filler

Example: Buffy Summers and Riley Finn from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer

As a die-hard fan of Buffy, my heart always resided with Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Angel (David Boreanz). They were the peanut butter to each other’s jelly and their chemistry was a force to be reckoned with. When Angel moved to L.A. for his spin-off and Buffy started dating that boring Midwesterner, Riley (Marc Blucas), I was pissed but I also understood. Let’s face it: Buffy and Angel were great but they had a doomed relationship. I mean, they could never have sex. If they did, Angel would revert back to being a soulless vampire and Buffy would have to send his ass back to Hell again. Riley made sense because he was the antithesis of Angel: wholesome, stable and actually alive. Many times, after enduring a rollercoaster romance, one gravitates towards the exact opposite in their next relationship and that’s exactly what Buffy did. Even though she eventually went back to doing who she did best, which was vampires, she got to experience a “normal” relationship for once and it was good for her (albeit bad for Buffy/Angel fans).

Teen Relationship Problem # 5: Rats! The Boy I Like Is Into Boys

Example: Cher Horowitz and Christian from Clueless

The whole premise of Clueless rests upon the fact that the heroine, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), is, in fact, without a clue. Throughout the movie, Cher commits many acts that reinforce this idea. She plays matchmaker for her friend Elton (Jeremy Sisto) and Tai (Brittany Murphy) without realizing that Elton is more interested in her and she also fails to understand that the boy she’s pursuing, Christian (Justin Walker), is a full-time homosexual. Granted, she never got around to dating him, but the film still exposed a serious problem in teen relationships, which was, “What if the guy I like is a big ‘mo?” After all, if there were ever a time for a boy to be in the closet, it would be in high school. The film was released in 1995, a time when men weren’t exactly tripping themselves to get out of of the closet, and looking back, the signs were all there for Cher to see. Christian listened to Billie Holiday, enjoyed the film Spartacus and, oh my god, he loved to shop! Major duh, Cher! Interestingly though, Christian appeared to never be secretive about his sexuality. He just assumed that everyone, including Cher, would know that he liked boys. He obviously assumed wrong but once Cher got the memo, she embraced Christian as a friend and ditched any notion of him as a potential lover. Talk about turning your lemons into a glitter-infused wine spritzer!

Let’s recap: Teen girls must be virgins in order for a boy to like them, they’re attracted to gays and assholes, raping their best friend is a major deal breaker and sometimes they shack up with a boring guy because it’s easier and less drama. The general consensus of TV seems to be that teenagers are too young and crazy to love each other in a healthy way. Maybe it’s best to just wait until they’re in college when they can stalk their crushes like Felicity (Keri Russell) did.