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"The Only Way Is Essex: Is that how teenagers live in Britain?"
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"The Only Way Is Essex: Is that how teenagers live in Britain?"

‘Trashy’ British television shows are often far removed from reality, but they can still teach young people important life lessons, according to Denise Juvane, 19, a student from Mozambique now living in England.

With TV programmes such as “The Only Way Is Essex” and “Skins”, is the British media portraying stories which are far from reality?

It cannot be dismissed that these series undoubtedly add a pinch of salt to their drama, however, is their motto of presenting reality far from the truth?

Shows such as “The Only Way Is Essex”, which portray 19 to 25 year olds living what they call ‘ordinary lives’, often seem to steer teenagers in terms of how they perceive life and of how they think life should be lived.

Fair enough such shows are highly entertaining and provide us with barrels of laughter. However, how far is too far? I personally cannot deny that I find them highly amusing, because I do, but does everyone have a clear filter of what to take in and what to dismiss, as I and people around me do?

These programmes depict teenage life as being all about spending, drinking, partying and holidaying. What about all the other things that real-life teenagers do? The reading, the sleeping and waking up looking far from perfect, the challenges of life and the pursuing of higher education? These factors seem to be blurred in these as well as other shows which seek to entertain the people of our generation.

With series such as ‘Skins’ depicting teenagers as rowdy and selfish, I have before witnessed people asking whether that is the way that teenagers live in Britain. Are they therefore, taking it too far, and shaping foreigners’ own ideas of British teenagers through what they see on TV?

We cannot dismiss, nonetheless, that such programmes continue to raise important issues. From learning to tackle insecurities through being happy with the person that you are, to raising awareness on faulty French silicone implants. In this respect they cannot be faulted entirely.

‘Skins’ for example can be applauded for its targeting of reckless teenage behaviour, which often leads to death as a way of filtering important information into one’s brain. The depiction of alcohol and drugs leading to the death of one of its characters has, in my eyes, been incredible.

So, yes, these series often depict events which are far from reality, but we cannot dismiss the fact that, without noticing, they also insert important life lessons into today’s young society.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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