Gen Z is portrayed weirdly in television

Bobbi Davidson, Staff Writer

As a member of Gen Z and a consumer of all things pop culture, I have noticed a few flaws with how Gen Z is portrayed in the media. Most of the movies and tv shows I watch consist of young adults navigating college life or a new city, and there is always an unavoidable level of cringe-worthy dialogue. 

I think this level of uncomfortable dialogue comes from the perception that show creators have of Gen Z. Most writers and producers are millennials and they clearly do not understand the younger generation. Another level of awkwardness comes from the need to include trends on social media in “real life.”

There are a few examples of this portrayal in a few shows I have watched recently. One example would be “Wednesday,” the new Netflix Original series that follows the life of Wednesday Addams. In one specific scene, Tyler Galpin is sarcastically telling his dad about what he talks about in therapy. Galpin lists random buzzwords like “video games, cancel culture, oat milk vs. soy,” and says “it’s a wild time.” 

Even though this moment is small in comparison to the eight-episode series, it still felt fake and forced. Because this show has a more serious tone overall, this especially stuck out to me as cringey. 

The HBO Max original “The Sex Lives of College Girls”  is another show with out-of-touch, reaching-to-be-relatable references. Overall, the show is incredible and includes a lot of relevant pop culture references, but sometimes there are moments that stick out in a negative way. One example that sticks out to me is when one of the characters, Leighton, is filming an outfit of the day TikTok and her roommates are filming and holding lights up to create the perfect video. It was just a weird moment to see on a tv show.  

I have pushed aside these weird moments and ended up enjoying shows like “Wednesday” and “The Sex Lives of College Girl.”  Something I am normally not a fan of is reboots. In the past two years some of my favorite shows have gotten reboots that are unwatchable. 

“Gossip Girl” is one of my all-time favorite shows that first aired in 2007. Even now, in 2022, I re-watch the show yearly and it holds up like no other. In 2021, HBO Max created a reboot of the popular show. After watching a few episodes, there was something noticeably different in the overall issues the characters faced and how they handled problems. I do not think “Gossip Girl (2021)” will have half the longevity of the original. 

With shows more frequently integrating Gen Z and the overall culture of society today, there is no avoiding the cringe.  The shows are enjoyable and just watching through obvious forced jokes seems like the new norm.