Even before I started writing Lifetime movie reviews for Crushable, my favorite flicks on the network were the ones about teenagers. There’s something about setting the typical Lifetime movie problems against the backdrop of a high school that makes it ten times more entertaining for me. This weekend I got to watch another one about polygamist teenagers who dress like hipsters. It was a magical time in my life, two days ago. Because it’s been a good few years since I could call myself a teenager, these movies teach me a lot about what it’s like to be that age. It’s very enlightening, and now that I’ve seen a good chunk of teenage-themed Lifetime movies, I feel like I can confidently share with you the lessons I’ve learned. Try not to be blinded by how in tune I am with teenage culture.
1. Everything terrible happens when you’re 17.
If you’re reading this and you’re about to turn 17, hold onto your hat. You’re in for quite the adventure. As you’ve probably noticed, Lifetime has a habit of making movies with 17 in the title. Stalked at 17, Betrayed at 17, Fugitive at 17, Accused at 17, Dead at 17. You get the idea. Even when 17 isn’t in the title, you can bet your last Funyun the main character is that age anyway. If I were 17, I’d sleep with one eye open. You never know when a pregnancy will happen or when you’ll be framed for murder. This is dark, my friends.
2. Dads don’t exist.
Oh, you’re a teenager with a dad, you say? Wow, what an anomaly. Are you sure you’re really a teenager and not middle-aged? Because if I’ve learned anything from watching Lifetime movies, it’s that dads are not a thing. All teenagers are raised by a single mother. Okay, so sometimes the dad is just on a business trip in China and can’t make it to San Diego to save his daughter from being missing.
3. Your boyfriend is not who you think he is.
This might be because you only know him online. It might be because he gave you no warning that he’d set up that webcam before you had sex. But whatever it is, there’s a cruel twist in your future. Like in The Boy She Met Online, where the titular “She” discovers that the titular “Boy” is currently incarcerated with a boy band haircut. Or in Stalked at 17 when our heroine is shocked to learn that the boy with the crazy eyes who got her pregnant is actually a creepy stalker. God, it’s like she didn’t even pay attention to the title of her own movie.
4. If you have sex, you WILL get pregnant, or get an STD.
Yes, Lifetime is of the same philosophy as Coach Carr of Mean Girls. Once you have sex, probably at 17, anything that can go wrong will. And then everything after that will go wrong too. For instance, if you get pregnant, your boyfriend will probably end up being a psycho (see #3). If you get an STD, it will probably set off a chain reaction of everyone at school contracting it (see She’s Too Young). I’d also argue it could get your parent murdered, but some people insist that was just a coincidence. Whatever.
5. But sometimes you can have as much unprotected sex as you want and never face any consequences.
Yes, it’s true. Sometimes you can actually have a ton of sex with no protection at all, and nothing will happen, even though it absolutely should. The movie I’m thinking of here is Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, in which two teens get stranded on a desert island, have lots of sexytimes, and never give birth to an island baby. Even though that would be totally canon, people!
6. If you’re an innocent, bookish type, it’s only a matter of time before you’re a bad girl.
Lifetime loves a good girl gone bad. Take Walking the Halls, in which a sweet, straight-A student gets sucked in to a high school prostitution ring and is somehow not like, “Actually, this is a really bad idea, I’m going home to study.” Or what about in Restless Virgins when one of the movie’s titular virgins goes from restless to ethicsless and spreads a video of her friend having sex with the lacrosse team?
7. The minute your overprotective parents give you more freedom, you’ll get into the worst kind of trouble.
Yes, odds are you have a mom (not a dad, those don’t exist) who is very concerned for your safety and/or state of being pregnant or not, and she doesn’t give you much freedom. You whine to her about it a lot, and her more carefree BFF probably encourages her to let you get away with more. So she does, and your life is ruined as a result. You go missing or catch syphilis or something. Why did we give up on the tradition of locking teenage girls in towers again?
8. If you send someone a naked photo, everyone in the school, and even most of the parents, will know the next day.
For the thousandth time, teenagers, stop sending naked pictures to your boyfriends. We’ve already established he’s not who you think he is, so clearly he’s not going to keep that photo to himself. And since everyone in high school appears to have everyone else’s phone number, everyone there will see the picture by tomorrow. And then the parents will too. And sometimes the parent is the one who sent it around in the first place. I’m not kidding. This happened in a Lifetime movie. If you want to know which one, you have to meet me in a parking garage where my face is covered in shadow. And where I’m wearing a trench coat, preferably.
9. Teenage boys want sex. With anyone. At any time.
They’ll have sex with their girlfriend, they’ll have it with their dirty teacher, they’ll have it with the rest of the lacrosse team filming it. Any time, anywhere. And that’s all they want, haven’t you heard?
10. You’re probably the only one who will notice evildoers, and nobody else will believe you.
Yes, such is the fate of a Lifetime teen that she’ll be the only one who notices that obviously crazy person is crazy, and nobody around, including her parents, will believe her. The crazy person could be poisoning her children or framing the girl for murder or anything, really. But her parents are too busy giving her more freedom (see # 7) to listen. So she’ll have to do everything by herself. And then she’ll probably get pregnant. Just because.