Movies and TV Mislead, Heighten High School Hopes

Televisions sit on a throne of lies. Movie theaters show two to three hours of pure deception. Even Netflix — the neighbor with enough sugar to lend you a cup every day, until death do you part — is a manipulative host of mistruths.

The worst is that these utter falsehoods, which spread rapidly through TV shows and movies, begin with one simple theme: high school.

The media’s depiction of these four years has spiraled around in my head since I could hold a remote, until my awaited day arrived and I crossed the threshold into my freshman year . . .

. . . and was thoroughly disappointed.

I say this not to hurt Shaker Heights High School, but to softly blast the experience promised by MTV, Disney and the like. My first week stumbling down the halls of SHHS was packed with utter confusion. Yes, puzzled was I, hunting down the rare restroom. I spent frustrating days trying to find my locker, which I later found on the other side of the building from the start of my search. Yet the most disappointing surprise came as I entered the buzzing atmosphere of the cafeteria.

Disclaimer: I was not quite gullible enough to entirely believe TV’s exaggerated image of high school. Yet after half an hour of catching up with friends, I felt a childhood dream of mine slowly but surely die.

Not a single student had told me to stick to the status quo.

I hadn’t spotted anyone carrying an unnecessary basketball to and from classes.

There wasn’t even a sign-up sheet for the “Twinkle Town Musical.”

OK, fine. More authentic high school portrayals have been produced since “High School Musical” (not including “High School Musical 2”, or the third one that hardly dealt with high school), and maybe my collegiate sister had mentioned once or 50 times not to believe that TV hullabaloo. Still, my first high school reality let-down was not the last. Here are 10 TV shows and movies that hand-fed me false high school expectations.


10 Shows and Movies That Lie About High School

(In No Particular Order)

  1. “Hannah Montana.” Surprisingly enough, I have yet to meet a teen pop sensation who has a split personality, revolving closet and country-singing dad.
  2. “Teen Wolf.” Not only do I fail to recognize the undercover superstar adolescents in the building, but also the werewolves, banshees and kitsunes.
  3. “The Princess Diaries.” Actually, I’m holding out hope that I’m a secret princess of an unknown country. C’mon, Grandma, I know you’re hiding something from me.
  4. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” I’m not sure how Bueller ever skipped school so easily. We need a parent phone call, our ID, a doctor’s note, a permission slip signed by the president of the United States.
  5. “21 Jump Street.” Jenko and Schmidt aren’t technically high school students in the movie, but I still feared undercover cops and deadly drugs like those that were illegally distributed in Riverdale High School.
  6. “Mean Girls.” The film includes plenty of accuracies, but the Burn Book and Plastics were (fortunately) not among them.
  7. “That’s So Raven.” Sadly, I haven’t met a psychic teen yet, or someone who has daily experiences like Raven had: swelling like a balloon from an allergic reaction, turning blue after science class, or performing with the infamous Boyz N Motion.
  8. “Glee.” I don’t think anyone in the building would appreciate spontaneous outbursts of song and dance.
  9. “Victorious.” Our school doesn’t really throw parties where we drink soda and mingle and sing original songs together. I suppose we could, but we don’t.
  10. “Gossip Girl.” Hey there, Cleveland East Siders . . .  Maybe Shaker Heights isn’t exactly an Upper East Manhattan drama-filled mess. I can’t say I’m disappointed. XOXO.


I hope to see Disney, Warner Brothers, Fox and the like making more realistic portrayals of high school in the near future. Until then, maybe this will remind readers to remain cautious when consuming high-school media.

I mean, practically speaking, Chad can’t carry his basketball around every high school out there.

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