MTV may not show videos anymore, but you should watch these shows if you work with Teens
There was a time when MTV showed music videos. And it was awesome. Though it is not a music staple anymore, and I sometimes weep about it, Teens and Young Adults (true young adults, in their early 20s) are still MTV’s target demographic. And in all honesty, they do have some interesting things happening on the channel. So if you want to work with teens, I think it is important to spend some time in their world. Just a little. Here are 5 MTV shows that will not only help you work with your teens, but they are actually pretty good. Yes, I am admitting it.
So, what 5 shows on MTV should you be watching?
Season 3 of Teen Wolf premieres on Monday, June 3rd. This series is loosely based on the 80s movie starring Michael J. Fox, but it has amped up the sex appeal. MTV is all about amped up sex appeal sometimes. Scott is a teenager who was bitten by a wolf and is plunged into an underground world with power struggles, death, and danger at every turn. Although there is some evidence to suggest that paranormal is waning in the publishing world, it is still hot with teens. Also, you can never go wrong with hot vampires (Vampire Diaries on CW) or hot werewolves. See above. It is not as awesome as Buffy, because it lacks the Whedon vibe, but Buffy staple Nancy Holder has written some of the book tie-ins and many people on Twitter watch it together. Community watching always makes TV more fun.
Andrew Jenks was a teenage documentary film maker. He is now 24 and makes a show on MTV that is really kind of awesome. On the World of Jenks, Jenks spends time literally walking in someone else’s shoes. He has lived with a rapper, an autistic boy, and more. While he is living with them, we learn about lives different then our own. It’s really pretty cool. He also recently released an autobiography which we reviewed and gave some programming ideas for. His story is pretty inspiring to teens and young adults.
True Life tells the story of young people who are facing a wide variety of life challenges. The goal of this show is to raise awareness and just let young people tell their stories. It is, in fact, often one of my favorite shows on TV. The show synopsis says: “Since its first episode in 1998, True Life has provided a window into the struggles, hopes, and dreams of young people. Narrated solely by its characters, each episode documents the unusual–and often remarkable–circumstances of real individuals, whether it’s about soldiers returning from Iraq, deaf teenagers, or people living with autism. We’ve given all of them–and hundreds of others–the opportunity to tell their own stories directly to their peers in this powerful, Emmy award winning series that uniquely reflects the experiences and cultures of this generation.”
Being a teenager is, well, awkward. And Awkward really capture the essence of it. Awkward is basically a serialized soap opera that follows the life of Jenna, who many people believe tried to commit suicide, although she genuinely had a weird accident. Jenna shares her life in a blog. Actually, she overshares. There is a lot of good humor here. I particularly love the English teacher who tries to really get his students to write in ways that would probably get him fired in real life.
Made is an award winning show that focuses on teens (and now college students) trying their hands at personal transformation. This is more than just The Biggest Loser, however, as the transformations can literally be anything. Some teens take dance or cheerleading lessons to be “made” into these different people. Most of the goals are career or performance oriented. And yes, some of them involve things like being made into a beauty queen. But it is still an interesting look into the life of young people and their hopes and desires.
As for music, if you really want to see music video I recommend Jump Start on VH1 (I have my DVR set to record it so I can skim through the videos I hate) or check out Fuse.
What other shows do you think are secretly awesome and why? Tell us in the comments. They don’t even have to be on MTV.
Filed under: Guilty Pleasures, MTV, Popular Culture, Teen Interests
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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