I talk a lot about how much I enjoy teen-related Lifetime movies. And I do. I can even put up with the Whiny Girl character type if the movie itself is entertaining. But sometimes things go a little too far, and the whining and angst and general awfulness get to be a little too much, and by the end I’m so tired of teenagers if I so much as glimpse anyone under the age of 20 I’ll pass out from exhaustion. That’s how I felt during last night’s new movie The Choking Game, which was all about the latest way teenagers have found to be stupid. Don’t underestimate them; they always find a way.
The choking game of the title is exactly what it sounds like. Teenagers choke themselves or each other to the point of passing out. Because woohoo, so fun. At first I thought, only Lifetime could make a two-hour movie about teenagers choking themselves. But it turns out, according to the end-of-the-movie statistics, 1 in 16 teenagers has played this, and 1,000 die each year from it, while most parents don’t even know what it is. I’m only in my 20s and I still can’t keep up with all these teenagers’ self-destructive trends. Next thing I’ll be hearing about how teens are eating expired yogurt to feel dangerous. They’re not, are they? At this point I really wouldn’t be surprised.
This week’s main teen is Taryn (Freya Tingley), who’s starting her senior year of high school (at age 17, of course) on the right track. She gets good grades, doesn’t get into trouble, and doesn’t asphyxiate herself to the point of passing out. But of course that all has to change, because no good girl stays good forever. At least according to Lifetime.
Taryn has two main weaknesses. One, she has a crush on a guy named Ryder (Mitch Ainley) and is willing to get up early and run around a track every day just to catch a glimpse of him. Sorry, but I’ve never been into anyone that much. Her second weakness is that she feels the need to impress popular girl Courtney (Ferron Guerreiro), who calls all the little people “GP,” or “General Population,” and who was created by melting down the DVDs of twenty classic teen movies and extracting the essence of all their queen bee characters. Those kinds of over-the-top, princessy types are fun in a comedy, but when you’re trying to make a serious movie about serious issues, going all 13 Going On 30 on us is super inappropriate. Because let’s get real, nobody acts like that. Unless I know even less about teenagers than I thought I did.
Taryn wins the favor of new girl Nina (Alex Steele), who’s rumored to be into “some hardcore stuff.” That’s verified when Taryn finds her passed out in the bathroom after choking herself. She and Taryn of course start hanging out, with Taryn abandoning her nice, cool-blue-streaks-in-her-hair friend Elena (actress name is a mystery to me). Nina explains that choking is all about control, and once you have control over your body you can have control over other parts of your life. She approaches the whole thing like some kind of motivational speaker. I expected Oprah to invite her to star in a reality show on OWN.