A lot of writers will tell you that the key to their productivity was when they got rid of their TV. Well, that ain’t me. I love television, especially well-written shows with either hilarious or heart-breaking characters.
…But not quite as much as I love reading well-written books.
And because the majority of books I read feature teen girls, I have a particular fondness for any show that manages to write a real, sympathetic teenaged girl. I’m not talking about the Gossip Girls and the 90210s and the soap operas aimed at young women. In fact, it’s perplexing to me how many girl characters translate from three-dimensional on the pages to simply flat and self-serving on the screen. I’m not calling for an end to these dramas, but it would be great to see more sympathetic teenaged characters in those hit network prime times.
Here are some of my favorite “YA” voices from modern television:
Big Love’s Sarah Henrickson
Sarah’s struggle to love her mother while strongly disagreeing with her lifestyle is poingnant and relatable for any reader. Oops, I mean viewer. And the sacrifices she makes to take care of her expanding and confusing family make her a truly sypathetic character.
Modern Family’s Hayley Dunphy
Hayley is proof that you can write a sympathetic and funny teenager even if she isn’t, um, smart. Her revolving-door boyfriend (don’t we all love Dylan?) and arguments with sister (Alex) over clothing-rights remind us all of someone we knew (or know) in high school.
Parenthood’s Amber Braver man
Isn’t tiny, quirky Amber everyone’s favorite on this show? She is clearly brilliant. Her reasoning is astounding. Her vocabulary is better than mine. But her mistakes are so frequent that she has no idea how smart she is. If that isn’t the definition of teenaged, I don’t know what is. (And yes, I know she’s 20 now, but she was a teenager though much of the show.)
Parks and Rec’s April Ludgate
What? She’s not a teenager. But, she was. When the show started, she was a spunky, sarcastic 18-year-old intern. And how fresh it is to see a teenager outside of the family-and-high-school setting! She’s such a real character, it almost doesn’t matter how young she is…or maybe that was the writers’ point…
So three cheers from this viewer for these very real fictional girls! And here’s hoping this list gets longer, and more diverse, in the near future!
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