Things to Do - Watch Puberty Blues

Lately I can't stop watching an Australian mini-series (available on Youtube) called Puberty Blues. The show centers on two teenage girls in the 1970s and their quest to become popular. Unlike most "teenage" shows the personal dramas of the parents take up almost half of the storyline. Further, unlike most network tv, puberty blues portrays the whole high school experience as incredibly uncomfortable. Actually the whole show is somewhat uncomfortable, from teenage boys treating girls like sexual toys (actually toy maybe too glamorous of a word) to parents who have affairs and play strip poker.

I can't imagine a show like this airing on network in America, both because of the sexual content and the disturbingness of certain scenes (though HBO's Girls is heading in a similar direction). The fabulous thing about a show that captures so much awkwardness (losing one's virginity to a boy who barely speaks to you) is that it also does a great job in showing the excitement and possibility that waits around the corner (i.e. the first kiss with a boy you really like, a scene so well done that the youtube clip has over 12,000 views).

The show gains momentum somewhat slowly and I almost cut off watching after the second episode, as I wasn't sure I really liked any of the characters. Luckily, Dan was traveling for work and I didn't have much else to do at night, so I labored on and now I can't stop raving about it. The decisions made by so many of the characters were horrible to watch. But, for me, the most captivating part was viewing the parents of these two (relatively "good") teenage girls as their daughters spin (somewhat) out of control and trying to figure out who could stop this. As a third-party viewer, the show allows you to witness the complexities of the girls' situation - how fun, boredom, and the threat of social stigma intermix. And you rout for the girls to figure out that really, they are better than this. But then you watch the parents who all seem bitterly trapped in their own lives and you're not sure who has it worse. As I said, uncomfortable. But mostly, you can't help but judge and or admire the different ways parents' handle the situations - whether one should trust his/her children to make good decisions or whether one should try to force his/her own decisions on them.

I don't think the show offers any answers. But for a parent of young children, if leaves so many questions. Watching it made me realize how risky parenthood can be - that you can try and instill certain values in your child, but at the end of the day their life is their own to live how they choose. And that their view of the world will always be much smaller than your own. There's a certain beauty in this and a world of frustration. But as cheesy as it is, Puberty Blues made me realize that these early years are important. Some days I don't know what I'm teaching my children (if anything) but that right now i am molding my kids in ways i don't even realize. And even if they break the mold, hopefully they'll remember what it looked like.

Anyways, if you're looking for something to watch this winter, I highly suggest checking out Puberty Blues.


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