Love, life, race and exploration. Teenagers is definitely a web series, that sheds light on themes and issues we can all relate to, and if you were a fan of Skins, then Teenagers is honestly a series that will pique your interest.
Created by M. H Murray, someone who we should all be keeping an eye out for in the future, Teenagers follows a group of young people and their stories, as they try to navigate the world and issues that are presented to them. It is always constantly asking the question, “Who Am I?”
In an interview with Talk Nerdy With Us, Murray talks about his influences on what helped him make Teenagers. He mentions one of my favourite directors John Hughes, pointing out the honesty and authenticity Hughes had when it came to writing for and about teenagers, something that you can see in Murray’s work.
With an amazing and diverse cast of Canadian actors; a few who are Degrassi alumni, Teenagers is as raw and as real as they come. It never shies away from subject matters of importance, and that should be talked about. With season one and two already out on Youtube, and season three in the works, Teenagers has a lot to offer.
What is so great about the series, is the fact that it doesn’t sugar coat that growing up is not easy. It is a rollercoaster of emotions and something that can be messy at times. Films like Thirteen and Kids are great examples of showing the real grit behind being a teenager. They don’t hide away from anything or make their characters out to be perfect or glamorous, and with Teenagers Murray gives us that through his characters actions and the consequences they face.
The characters that really stand out to me in the series are Sara (Allyson Pratt), T (Emmanuel Kabongo) and Olive (Dana Jeffrey). With T’s character we see the struggles he faces with being a young black man growing up in today’s society, especially when he is falsely accused of an action he didn’t commit. We see how those around him are quick to judge him.
Murray really brings up an important issue in how young people can be very quick to turn on each other, but also the way people can view young black men sometimes, and how they can often be vilified. Relating back to his interview with Talk Nerdy With Us Murray mentions how:
“T is like one of those Stark kids from Game of Thrones. He just can’t catch a break. Society can be so harsh and I want to use this whole issue with T and Molly — with the false accusations and how quickly he was viewed as guilty by his peers — to shine a light on that. T definitely has a lot of obstacles ahead of him and the odds never seem to be in his favour, but the beautiful thing is that he has the courage to continue living and fighting. I can’t say whether he’ll have a happy ending or not, but his journey will hopefully spark some much-needed conversations about race relations in North America”
With Sara and Olive, the friendship that they have goes through a large transition, which is seen mainly in season 2, and while Murray uses their characters to explore different issues and themes, the exploration of sexuality becomes a big part of their storylines. In Season One we that Sara has feelings for Olive, and we see how that affects her, and as Season Two progresses Sara really begins to comes into her own, and actually explore her sexuality more, which is a really great journey to watch.
What is interesting about Olive’s character is that she is a great example of the teenager that doesn’t know who, or what they really want, right up until it’s too late, and with everything that happens to her in Season One things don’t get any easier for her, as we also begin to see her struggle with her own sexuality and feelings.
What Murray does with her character, and where he takes her, is very engaging because it’s something you don’t see coming at first, and considering where we leave Olive in the Season Two finale, it is obvious there is plenty more to come from her character.
As someone who was a film student I am very intrigued by Murray’s direction, and what he does with it to create different emotions and moments that completely hold your attention. The mise-en-scène, in my opinion, is used in a great way to reflect adolescence, but also more insight into some of the characters and their interests. His use of colour also really creates a very emotive space for the audience and the characters, and a lot of the party scenes are my favourites because of the style and imagery created, but also they makes me reminisce about the times I was a teenager, and what it’s like being in that party element surrounded by friends.
Each season of Teenagers may only have a few episodes, but the series pushes forward and dives into each characters issues. None of the characters are clean cut or perfect, and some even do things that are very unlikeable at times, but that’s what makes Teenagers so enticing to watch, the complexity and imperfection of each character and the growth and journey that they go on. With it’s genuine storytelling, the series takes you on a ride of discovery with each character, who all have something you can relate to – Teenagers is definitely a web series to be watching.