Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Teens, Tweens and "Gossip Girls"

The "Gossip Girls" is premiering tonight at 9:00 pm on the CW Network. My teenage daughters put it on their list of new shows to watch and they are making sure to TIVO it in the event that it comes through with the success that all the hype has been promising. I also have a tween, who I am positive will not be watching it.

Although I have never read any of the books from The Gossip Girls Series by Cecily Von Ziegesar, they are undeniably a sure bet for a TV hit - just read the reviews of the books on Amazon! The books are addictive. They feed every fascination that teenagers have towards sex, money, fashion and power. They follow the lives of high school students from a prestigious private girls’ school on the upper-east side of New York City.

For teenagers reading these books, I want to assume, that they are old enough to separate fact from fiction - or at least I want to believe that they are mature enough to have already established their own values when it comes to many of the issues these books raise. Hopefully they read them, or now watch them, with a bit of humor, and not an “oh my gosh, I wish that were my life and these girls are so cool” reaction. After all, the books are aimed at an audience of 18 - 34 years olds who have moved beyond high school and can reflect back on that period in their lives.

In an article in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times this past weekend, entitled, “My So-Called Gossipy Life”, the reporter, Ruth LaFerla shares a private screening with four tweens, 12 and 13 year olds, who live and attend private school on the Upper East-Side. The frightening point of the article is that these girls were completely suited to view the pilot. They identified and could relate to the characters - the sex, the drugs, the cattiness and the overindulgence that permeated the show. They are 12 and 13 years old!!!

How is this okay for 12 and 13 year old girls? As much as my 12-year old daughter would love to watch the show tonight, and I am sure many of her friends will be talking about it in school tomorrow - it won’t be happening. At her age, she is nowhere near ready to take on the issues that this show presents. It’s not that I need to shield her from it, well actually I do --- she’s 12! It’s my responsibility as her parent to give her the time she needs to mature and develop at an appropriate pace. It is unfair to expect her to be comfortable being exposed to things such as “tempestuous encounters, Viagra, and downing martinis like they’re snapples”. Talk about pressure, she gets enough of that from her peers, she doesn’t need it from me as well.

How sad for these tweens from the Upper East Side and what a challenge for their parents who are raising them in an environment that is so saucy, that it makes for great TV viewing.

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