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Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Favorite TV High Schoolers and the Stereotypes They Represent

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
I just recently had a birthday, #28, which means my 10 Year High School Reunion is quickly approaching.  It was thinking of this dreaded event that got me thinking about the subject of High School.  Most of the TV shows that I watch or have watched in the past, all center on a group of teenagers or had a teenager as a pivotal role.  While in high school, whether it be in California or Connecticut, teenagers end up falling in categories/stereotypes that society and entertainment has created.  The biggest example of this is the 80s movie, The Breakfast Club (which is one of my favorite 80s flicks).  Each character filled a role in what you could call, the “High School Hierarchy”.  In the movie you had The Jock, Miss Popular, The Bad Boy, The Nerd, The Outcast.  Most TV shows that are set in a high school environment all have characters that are in some way versions of these stereotypes.  Of course, since most of my shows are about teenagers, like I’ve said, I have my favorites and least favorites of these stereotypes.

Photo Credit: NBC Universal
Matt Saracen “All American Football Hero” (Friday Night Lights

Every high school has their football hero.  The one person that holds the fate of the school on their shoulders, or in the quarterback’s case, in their hands.  You can’t have a show about high school without the football team, right.  There have been many great football player characters on TV.  Matt Donovan from The Vampire Diaries would definitely fit this role.  So would Finn from Glee, but my favorite football hero has to be Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights.  Not only did Matt have the fate of his team in his hands (and let’s face it, in the town of Dillon Texas, if you lose the football game, you might as well buy a bus ticket out of there), he also took care of his senile grandmother, worked part-time to pay the bills, attended school and had to get good grades so he could play football!  The whole town looked to him as their hero, all because of his love of the game and his courage to never give up.  By the way, Matt Saracen is my absolute favorite TV character so if you've never seen Friday Night Lights, I suggest you get the DVDs and see what I’m talking about.

Matt: “You don’t have to worry about me, in a fight I just kinda stand in the back and just yell stuff.”

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox
Cordelia Chase “Mean Girl” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Every high school on TV has THAT girl, you know the one I’m talking about.  The girl who has everything and treats everyone else like dirt.  A role that made Rachel McAdams famous was playing Regina George from Mean Girls, who was the best  Mean Girl ever, but we’re talking TV, so she doesn’t count.  Next best to Miss George has to be Cordelia Chase from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Now, everyone who knows me knows of my love for this show so I may be a little biased, but the blog post is about MY favorites, so I’m allowed.  Cordelia always commented on everyone else’s clothing and made sure you knew that she was superior and you just walked around in her world.  Even her friends, and I use that term losely, knew she was in charge.  She was Cordelia and they were the Cordettes.  Cordelia eventually got a little nicer but she never lost her Queen Bee attitude.

Giles: “Cordelia, have you ever heard of tact?”
Cordelia: “Tact is just not saying true stuff.  I’ll pass.”

Photo Credit: Columbia Tristar
Griffin Holbrook “Loner” (Party of Five

The Loner is a character that is not usually noticed as much as the other more front and center characters, but there have been some greats.  Jordan Catalano from My So Called Life and Jess from Gilmore Girls fit into this role, but in this stereotype I’m going to switch it up and talk about one of my LEAST favorite characters on TV, Griffin Holbrook form Party of Five.  Griffin was Julia’s loser boyfriend, and then husband eventually.  He kept to himself most of the time and didn't say much and was always getting in trouble.  His inability to express himself or his emotions made him that character that was always on the sidelines.  He had such a fear of rejection (created mostly by his unemotional and abusive father) that he would have rather not participated in his life than be subjected to heart ache, as most loners are.

Julia: “Do you want me to stay?  I mean, is there any part of you that says ‘please don’t go’ ya know, ‘I don’t want you to see him’?”
Griffin: “Look, I’ve got this rule.  I don’t tell anybody what to do, and no one tells me.  And it works.
Julia: “You could at least care…”

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Rory Gilmore “Over-Achiever” (Gilmore Girls

The Over-Achiever in high school is usually that annoying one that seems to always get an A and participates in every extra curricular activity and is perfect in every educational way, but because of Rory’s excellent use of her pop culture knowledge and all around awesomeness, she is an Over-Achiever that you love instantly.  Her goal, from the beginning of her life, is to got Harvard (even though she ends up going to Yale instead) and creates her life around that goal.  She reads more than is required and does a ton of extra credit that it makes her this intellectual character, but then she would throw out some movie reference and you’d remember that she does have fun every once in a while. 

Rory: “I can’t finish all this and sleep at the same time.”
Lorelai: “You have to sleep.  It’s what keeps you pretty.”
Rory: “Who cares if I’m pretty if I fail my finals.”
Lorelai: “Oh-kay.  You’ve got this so completely backwards.”

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Cindy ‘Mac’ Mackenzie “Computer Geek” (Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars is quite possibly my most favorite high school based TV show. Mac was one of Veronica’s best friends and a genius around a computer.  Although this was a tough decision for me, considering one of my other favorite TV characters was Willow from Buffy, I figured Mac never went evil, so she should win in this category.  Mac could create fake databases, hack into people’s email accounts and do all things computer related.  She was Veronica’s “Girl Friday.”  The witty banter back and forth with these characters was always the icing on the cake.  Much like my Friday Night Lights recommendation, if you’ve never seen Veronica Mars I highly recommend watching the DVDs.  Sadly, the show was canceled after 3 seasons, but it will remain one of my faves for a long time.

Veronica: “How long does it take you to create a highly incriminating, thoroughly liable sexually explicit website?”
Mac: “Uh, 45 minutes, give or take?”

Photo Credit: 90210 Productions
Dylan McKay “The Bad Boy” (Beverly Hills: 90210

Most girls love the bad boy (not me though, I go for The Noble Hero character).  Why, you ask?  Who knows.  Maybe because there’s some part of us that like to try to fix a guy and the “want what you can’t have” sort of idea.  The “bad boy” is the unattainable challenge, and that’s sexy.  The definition of this has got to go to Dylan McKay from Beverly Hills: 90210.  He was the one that Brenda tried to fix, even when trying to fix him some times put her in danger.  Dylan was an alcoholic by the time he reached high school, cut class to go surfing, and was reckless while driving.  He was everything you’d want in a bad boy, plus he was hot!

Dylan: “I just don’t believe in winning through intimidation.  Unless of course, I’m doing the intimidating. 

Well, there you have it!  Those are my favorites.  I could come up with so many more of my favorite high schoolers and the stereotypes they represent, but then this blog would never end.  What are some of your favorites?  Sound off in the the comments section below.    

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