There's only two things that matter to teenagers: getting their driver's license and going to prom. At least that's how Hollywood tells it. Media tropes about teens have remained consistent for decades, whether it be high schools full of exclusively hot kids or a token angsty teen who's just misunderstood.
Even the best teen movies are guilty of these fallacies. In fact, many of them were conceived in said films. The reality is all people are different, even as teenagers, so schools aren't actually composed of the same five archetypal people that are depicted on film, and they aren't all behaving in completely predictable ways, sharing common desires and drives.
Here are the many unrealistic ways teenagers are depicted on both the small and big screen.
All Teens Are Beautiful Unless They're Nerds. Sometimes Even Then.
Pretty much any character with lines in a high school movie or TV show is stupid attractive. They all have statuesque figures and poreless skin, you know, like teenagers do. Even makeover movies like She's All That takes an "ugly nerd" and turns her into a model... by removing her glasses. Pretty much everyone is beautiful in that movie. There aren't a lot of high schools that have a Freddie Prinze Jr. and a Paul Walker and a Jodi Lyn O'Keefe and an Anna Paquin and a Gabrielle Union.
Time Management Is Easy Peasy
Anyone can be a three-sport athlete; it's not that hard. And there's more than enough time to do your homework as well as attend epic parties, or just drive around town in your friend's convertible. It seems like the only fictional kids who struggle in school are the apathetic ones who just don't try. The reality is, succeeding in high school requires a lot of time and energy spent doing homework and studying, and even then there's no guarantee that you'll succeed. Yet virtually no teen entertainment depicts actual work being done by students who seemed to breeze through high school, AP classes and all. Plus, most real life high schoolers are stressing hardcore about school, which seems to only be reserved nerds in TV and movies. Best of all, there's always time to hangout and chat in the bathroom, right Pretty Little Liars?
Nobody Wears The Same Clothes Twice
In every high school movie and show, the students wear different clothing every single day. It's not just the rich kids, either. Everyone jut seems to have an infinite wardrobe. Sure, it kinda makes sense that the "Plastics" in Mean Girls have a new ensemble every day, but why does everyone else? In reality, high school kids are just rotating five outfits and wearing them in a different order each week. The boys are probably wearing the same pants every single day, and with the advent of yoga pants, the same is probably true for the girls.
Everything About School Dances Is All Wrong
While it does happen in real life - mostly for the sake of humor and a quick hit of Internet fame - "promposals" aren't that common. That said, there's actually an episode of Modern Family titled "Promposal," and that show isn't even aimed at teens, which means the dreaded promposal has eked into pop culture at large.
Then there's the dances themselves, which are always depicted as extravagant affairs that students view as the most important experience of their entire life. Everyone is always dancing and having a magnificent time, unless they are watching the love of their life dance with the dumb jock. Don't worry though, they'll get the last dance.
High school dances IRL are full of groups of teens standing against the wall while texting each other, awkward attempts at bumping and grinding, and teachers thinking about how they do not get paid enough to chaperone events like this.