The youest you
I've been obsessed with stories about teenagers pretty much since I was one myself. Oh, let's face it, I've been obsessed with them since before then, when I was a tweenager, before that term actually existed. In college, before the currently socially-acceptable-for-adults-to-read-Y.A. trend, I would check out Judy Blume books from the library to destress and avoid all the university texts I was avoiding. In grad school, I chose to direct Stupid Kids, a campy 90's Rebel Without a Cause-inspired campy comedy about social outcasts lusting after all the wrong people. It was during that production that I was able to articulate why I love these stories so much:
The you you are in high school is the youest you.
Not, of course, as far as your intellectual capacity, or your wisdom, or your complexion or sense of style, but emotionally. The teenaged you is experiencing all of its big emotional firsts, all before you've developed the adult facade needed to function in day to day life. Everything, in the immortal words of Spinal Tap, "goes up to eleven." There are the first stabs of love and longing, which feel like a tidal wave that sucks you under, leaving you drenched with sobs when your crush doesn't call you back (or text you, or IM you, or return your wax sealed scroll- whatever the crush communication technology is of your day) or high as a kite when your crush deigns to make small talk with you in the cafeteria (or mall or malt shop or debutante ball or whatever the social meat market is of your day). There are the first stretches towards independence, when you realize that you are a you, separate from your family and those around you, and that you can wear black eyeliner and read Sylvia Plath or take up organic gardening and wear hemp bracelets or wear a thong and put pictures of Marilyn Monroe up all over your room and it feels like you, and you alone, are the first and only person to discover all this. It's ridiculous, it's beautiful and it's all so earnest. Even the sarcasm dripping from your mouth at every turn is so nakedly vulnerable that it's hard to hate you. Except when you're being a little shit, which is most of the time, during which time it's kind of easy to hate you. I am an adult now, but I'm still a person with big BIG feelings. Most of the time, I'm able to put on a grown-up, respectable "face to meet the faces that [I] meet" over those big feelings, but they're still there. And that's why it's so refreshing to watch or read stories about young people who are (whether by choice or lack of choice) a bit more honest about things, and who are still the them-est of thems.
All of this being said, here are a few of my current favorite stories about teenagers at the moment. Enjoy. Eat some junk food. And try to be a little less cool for an evening and a little more you.
The Edge of Seventeen (available streaming on Netflix)
My Mad Fat Diary (available streaming on Hulu)
Pen15 (available streaming on Hulu)