Ah, high school. Unfortunately, I remember it well. For those who peaked early it was a wondrous time full of parties, underage drinking, and general tomfoolery made all the better by those awesomely overactive teenage hormones. For the rest of us, though, it was a time full of social awkwardness, relatively poor taste in clothing and hairstyles, and overall coming to terms with the fact high school was just nothing like it is on TV. I remember flipping on the good ol’ boob tube and staring in wonder as these statuesque ladies strutted down the hallway in designer clothes, while muscular men played football or soccer or lacrosse with a near professional ease. It never really did match up with the string bean boys with whom I attended class with, and oh my god, did these TV students NEVER have homework? Like, really, I was never allowed out on school nights. There’s something fictional high school principals aren’t telling us.
ANYWHO despite my eternal confusion regarding the academic status of these soap opera teens and the ultimate emotional consequences that come from being lied to by my favorite shows for so many years, they never ceased to provide me with endless entertainment. Without further ado, here are 9 TV shows that lied to both me and you about what high school is really like.
1. Constance Billard & St. Jude’s, Gossip Girl
Okay, so in eighth grade there was this scandal at my school: some random girl who’s identity I think I know decided to become our very own Gossip Girl. She would send around emails to everyone in her address book telling us about drama she’d heard about. That’s about as far as Gossip Girl goes in terms of being even mildly realistic, and I think that was a pretty isolated incident. No 15-year-old girl in the world has a body like Serena Van Der Woodsen (Blake Lively), boys wear those dumb snapback hats more than they wear pastel seersucker trousers, and if I even tried to go out to a bar to have a drink on a Wednesday night when there was a book report to be written, my mom would have grounded me so fast it would have made your head spin. Also, I feel like a teacher would have gotten involved in this whole Gossip Girl situation and there would have been some terrifyingly boring school assembly about respect and responsibility followed by the implication of strict cell phone laws. But maybe I’m just too uppity.
2. Beacon Hills High School, Teen Wolf
I almost just want to have you all stare at that gif and then just leave it at that. Because abs. Nobody, I repeat, NOBODY in high school has a bod like that. But also I should probably mention the fact that everyone except for like two people at this school is some sort of supernatural creature. So, you know, that’s kind of unrealistic. Unless I turn out to be a banshee or something in a few years. I’ll keep you posted.
3. Rosewood High School, Pretty Little Liars
This show has so many layers. First of all, it made me think for a hot second that it would be a good idea to wear heels to school. Which it wasn’t. And then I thought maybe I could hook up with my English teacher. Which, you know, wouldn’t work out because the age different is so illegal it’s almost comical. And, finally, I thought that maybe I could be super independent and dabble in federal missing persons and murder investigations without parental supervision while still maintaining a decent GPA. Then I remembered that I’m a real human. Good day to you all.
4. West Beverly Hills High School, 90210
These teenagers were SO. DAMN. ANGSTY. Like, over the top angsty. Also they were way too young to be having as much sex as they were having. That’s all I have to say, I’ll go hobble back to my old folks home now and reminisce about the good days.
5. Mystic Fall High School, The Vampire Diaries
So maybe their initial college experience was a little bit more realistic, despite, you know, the whole vampire thing. But high school was just bananas. No one was at all disturbed by the fact that Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) was supposed to be Stefan‘s (Paul Wesley) older brother and he was constantly loitering around campus. #creeperstatus, I don’t care how hot he is, he should not be chilling out around minors all day. Granted, he’s over 100 years old in vampire years, but the same high school rules should still apply. The children are our future, after all.
6. Sunnydale High School, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
So obviously we’re encountering a theme here: most unrealistic high school scenarios on television include ridiculous supernatural scenarios. But this show was amazing and most of the time I could overlook the fact that Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) was killing vamps all day and night because she was an otherwise pretty normal person. But, PLOT TWIST, that’s what I find unrealistic about this show. Buffy’s life should have had her running for the hills, or at least the nearest psychiatrist. She was far too calm, cool, and collected. Made me think high school was gonna be a breeze. But, as Melissa McCarthy said in the seminal cultural sensation, Bridesmaids, “Not the case, Annie. Not the case.” Oh, your name’s not Annie? Whatevs.
7. Smallville High School, Smallville
Fine, even Superman had to go to high school, but even so. These people were weirdly technologically advanced and Clark Kent‘s (Tom Welling) friend Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) was way too aggressive of a newspaper reporter for a high school publication. I tried to take after her once. It ended with a phone call to my advisor complaining that I’d “stepped out of bounds.” Thanks, Smallville, for making my high school journalism career impossible.
8. Grant High School, The Secret Life of the American Teenager
This show is television’s biggest lie of all. You know why? BECAUSE SEX EDUCATION IS A THING THAT HAPPENS IN THE WORLD. I don’t know what these girls and boys were doing but they should be donated to science so that we can solve all the world’s fertility problems. Wrap it up, kiddos.