Romance Tropes in Teen Media
by Maddy Lloyd-Norstog: Staff Writer
As a teenager, it’s not hard to find movies, books, shows, video games, and music targeted towards our demographic. We are quite easy to appeal to, especially since most our hobbies tend to be indoors.
Teen media is nothing new with classics like The Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent, and many others being staples in teen culture. However, it seems that despite so many new titles being released, there are many overdone tropes, especially romance ones.
Oftentimes protagonists are faced with life-altering decisions and high stakes, but of course, none is more pressing than their personal love life.
The entire utilization of the love interest is often there only to cause occasional conflict in the protagonist and nothing else. The love interest is thereby used as a plot tool rather than an actually fleshed out character in the story, making them often seem a clique, flat, and an overall boring character. Its a waste of an entire character that has potential to strengthen the protagonist, world, and overall plot.
As the audience, we should feel invested in the world and characters, especially those integral to the protagonist, yet the love interest is often the exception.
Oftentimes, writers get lazy and just want to tick off the “romance” box in their checklist without actually putting in the time to properly develop the relationship. It’s just a guy likes a girl and everyone goes, “Yeah that checks out.” How am I supposed to care about these characters, their goals, and their relationship if we haven’t had any time to explore any of that?
Not to say that romance should never be included in teen media, it is an important part of growing up after all and there is a reason that many teens enjoy its inclusion. Aubrey Thompson when asked how she feels on the subject responded, “I like it. It’s the only way I get romance in my life.”
Isabelle Olson from Chaparral High School when asked the same question agrees, saying that, “It brings the drama and the tea and it makes it more interesting most of the time.”
All media gives us a form of escapism and lets us indulge in things that we usually wouldn’t get the opportunity to in real life. It lets us creatively express ourselves, and for that it should be celebrated, even in the poorly written romances.
However, that is no excuse to giving us a cheap, crummy romance just to add drama for drama’s sake. Teenagers may be easy to please, but that’s only because our expectations are set so low from the garbage that we are forced to consume.
I guarantee that after reading an actually good romance that adds to the world and characters, there would be no going back.
So I implore my fellow teenagers out there: don’t settle for half-baked romances! Rise up and demand the quality that you deserve!