10 Biggest Ways That TV High School Is Not Like Real Life

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Does life imitate art? Or does art imitate life? Always a pertinent question, especially when it comes to high school.

Coming of age is never easy. Riddled with insecurities, having to act sure when you are indeed unsure — adolescence is a battleground that can dictate behaviors for the rest of your life. What you'll react to, who you'll associate with, what you're interested in make adolescence, specifically high school, as informing as it is formative. For those amid the throes of this monstrous life moment, or those who remember it well, and even for those who don't, luckily, there is TV. The high school life and experience are perfectly serialized in a smattering of shows, and a good day-long TV marathon every now and again can go a long way in shaping beliefs about this special time. But what of the cognitive disconnects? There are moments when you think, "This couldn’t possibly be real, and it certainly didn't happen to me this way." For those times, consider the following ten ways that TV high school in no way resembles real life.

  1. You'll Never be Chosen to Kill Vampires

    Sorry, Buffy fans. There isn't really any leeway on this one. Unless you take it upon yourself and a fledgling mental illness to identify, hunt, and eliminate those that you deem to be supernatural, you won't be driving stakes through anyone's heart during high school. Unless, of course, you try your hand at dating.

  2. People Don't Spontaneously Break Into Song

    With sincerest apologies to fans of Glee, you probably won't see high school students dealing with tough issues like homosexuality, bullying, and teen pregnancies by spontaneously debuting perfect-pitched, well choreographed numbers in the choir room or the cafeteria. Also pertinent for the musically inclined: please be aware that Jane Lynch is in no way your arch nemesis, and Gwenyth Paltrow won't show up to be your substitute teacher any time soon. Them's the breaks.

  3. High School Students are Usually High School-Aged

    More astute fans of The OC, Dawson's Creek, Buffy, and lots of other high school TV series may have noticed that their favorite sophomores look more like twenty-somethings than tween queens. If your high school catered to adolescents on the increasingly seasoned end of the spectrum, you're probably mistaking it for college.

  4. High School Kids Aren't Afraid of Caffeine Pills

    With the majority of current high schoolers trying some combination of sex, drugs, or rock 'n' roll, the edgier episodes of Saved By the Bell have become but trite exemplars of days gone by. Kids these days don't get excited or scared by the idea of popping one too many No-Doz. They're all too busy having awkward high school sex, smoking pot, or taking their Adderall prescription because their parents say so.

  5. If You're a Troubled Teen From the Wrong Side of the Tracks, the Richest Family in Town Won't Adopt You

    Long before Ryan took over The OC, Will Smith was the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Although a weekend-long marathon of one or both of these shows may imbue you with dreams otherwise, the vast majority of raggedy teens with behavior problems and a heart of gold don't have the opportunity to have their lives get flip-turned upside down based solely on the altruism of others. In these times of economic hardship for most, high schoolers are more likely to resemble the riches-to-rags (or, at least, model home) teens from Arrested Development.

  6. Polaris Won't Play A Theme Song In Your Front Yard

    Everyone has an infinite playlist in their high school heads, be it internal or in their earbuds. But one thing you can count on (besides the unlikelihood of your little brother having a well-placed vintage sailor's tattoo) is that an alternative band won't greet you musically as you emerge from your school bus after a hard day of high school life. While The Adventures of Pete & Pete does highlight some of the more realistic struggles of high school life — unrequited love; constant bullying; the beautiful, strife-ridden existentialism implicit in coming-of-age; substitute teachers; kooky, embarrassing parents; marching band — you can be certain that Polaris won't be jam-mobbing your yard any time soon.

  7. No One Is the Anonymous Perez Hilton of Your School

    Not that you needed reassurance that Gossip Girl wasn't representative of real life, but there is a slim chance that there exists a spectre of the juiciest rumors that feeds directly to your cell phone. Gossip may be one of the more fun/hurtful parts of high school life, but there's nary a high school student that doesn't take credit for having the latest scoop.

  8. The Cute Blond Alternateen is Not A Private Detective

    This is especially true if you live in California, where an inordinate amount of high school TV shows are set. You may have a ragtag set of friends that help you solve your problems, but you won't be the Veronica Mars of your school. Additionally, you probably won't have a sage for a parent, especially if (s)he is a cop.

  9. You Won't Work On A Dude Ranch In The Summer

    It's not completely impossible, but Hey Dude! made it seem like the most well-adjusted cool kids were spending their summers pranking the higher-ups of a privately owned ranch resort. If you wanted to be a rockstar, more than likely you spent your high school summers at band camp. And if you were head cheerleader, you probably spent your summers being worshipped, getting laid, and practicing your back handspring. The only realistic part of this entire scenario is Ben Ernst's son Buddy, who consistently acts like he wants to be anywhere else.

  10. Your High School Principal Is Not A Mad Scientist

    Are you even aware of Clone High? In this cartoon that was an early voiceover vehicle for Will Forte (and many others), clones of famous historical figures were created by the Board of Shadowy Figures, were placed in foster homes, and are now amid the perils of high school life. With a murderous scientist for a principal, an Andy Dick-voiced sheep clone for a teacher, and cameos by Tom Green, Marilyn Manson, Jack Black, and Mena Suvari's forehead, there is little about the details of Clone High that rings true about any non-clone's high school life. This show is a true sleeper classic with a sadly small cult following. Even though it won't help you navigate through more than a wonky version of historical celebrities, Clone High could be just the thing to relieve you from the pressures of the daily grind.

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