This series has garnered a number of awards and nominations already and over 5 million views online. I think this is partly due to the fact that it takes such an honest look at what goes on for teenagers, and partly due to how well the team made it come together as a finished piece. Really, you need those two together for success; one without the other wouldn’t cut it.
The show’s director Mathew Murray is a humble and down-to-earth guy. He is nervous about his earliest works living online (S1 was made when he was 20 and still in film school), but also looks at it as an opportunity to set an example and inspire other young creators. His message is that it’s possible to get your work out there at that age, and his results are certainly inspiring, lending credibility to that message.
Upon taking in all of the episodes that comprise seasons one and two of the Teenagers Web Series, and then taking a step back, I have to say what Murray attempted here was very ambitious. Audacious even, in terms of the plot lines. I did not see the twist coming at the end of season one, so that was well done, let alone the complexity that would unravel and carry over into season two. Teenagers pleasantly surprised me.
Let’s look at the positives:
- Impressive character building given the shorter episode lengths, quite challenging for a web series.
- The ability to somehow communicate so much with few words. Several times I noticed that I had understood something where nothing was said. A particular look here, a particular song there. To me that’s one of the marks of a successful production.
- Some particularly memorable contrast scenes for example the opening scene in the first episode, and another in episode 5: a difficult, confronting visual, coupled with upbeat music. It’s a clever way to captivate the audience, because the brain has to try to rationalize what’s happening and this involves not being able to tear the eyes away.
- Captured the essence of being a teenager: the innocence of kids knowing it all, who are at the same time completely oblivious to how oxymoronic that is.
- Inclusion of all kinds of people and a wide range of important issues to the storyline, and without feeling rushed.
Well, while I’m no expert on web series myself, I remain largely impressed. The mixing on S1 seemed inconsistent, but I didn’t have the same problem with S2. I cannot fault any of the acting, to the contrary actually, and the production seemed polished (but again I’m no expert).
While some of the central themes could be seen as some by cliché, they’re also necessary really when you think about it. Being a teenager involves many clichés!
What to expect:
- Bullying, sex, drugs and peer pressure all in the first three minutes of episode one
- Short, sharp, shots to the heart. An honest portrayal of memories many people will have experienced in their teen years.
- A range of emotions, obviously!
- People trying to figure shit out.
My favourite parts…
When Tariq asks his uncle, ‘What’s the point of all this?’. He puts words to what a lot of the characters seem to be thinking at one point or another in the series.
These kids are learning that life is literally not a fairy tale (we’re looking at you Bree), and I smiled when Gabriel gave some wisdom to her; ‘Maybe you shouldn’t overthink it? Maybe it just is’. I smiled because it’s hard for adults to even think that way, and this attitude can help people of any age come to terms with the struggles of life.
A big congratulations goes out to the entirely Toronto-based team that contributed to and created Teenagers. With S3 in the making, all signs point to a successful project that looks set to soar even higher in the coming future. To watch, start here at S01E01 on YouTube.
~contributor: Kim Adams