TV & Movies

Even with streaming, YouTube, and smartphones, teens still enjoy television shows. Here are some that should be in any collection for teens!

 

Veronica Mars, Season 1 (2004-2005)

Main cast:

Kristin Bell, Percy Dags III, Jason Dohring, Francis Capra, Enrico Colatoni

Creator: Rob Thomas

Age: TV-14

Format: DVD, streaming

Run Time: 935 minutes

Plot Summary:

In sunny Neptune, California, a town full of have and have-nots, Veronica Mars is a snarky, sarcastic high schooler — with a hidden good side. Her life changes when her best friend is found murdered, and her Sheriff father accuses the victim’s father, who happens to be her boyfriend’s father. Veronica and her father face an intense backlash, and her life spirals; her mother abandons her and she loses her boyfriend and popular friends. The new Sheriff finds the murderer and the case is closed — or is it? Forced out of his job, Mr. Mars becomes a private detective and Veronica follows in his footsteps. Throughout the season, we watch Veronica struggle with losing her boyfriend, mother, and old life, and see her start to accept new friends and solve cases in Neptune. Unable to get over the murder of her best friend, Veronica quickly realizes that the real killer may still be out there — and she’ll risk everything to find them.

 

Critical Evaluation:

The series is a cult classic for a reason: its writing and characterization are sharp, its cast is likable and skilled, and its themes of racism, trust, families, and have vs. have nots are timeless. The show rightfully features a diverse cast of characters, given its setting, and uses the racial and class divides in the school and community of Neptune to make a commentary on the ways in which wealth can buy power and privilege. Power can buy one the privilege to “stand idly by,” as Veronica accuses one good guy who acts as a bystander and lets bad things happen. The show smartly creates a flawed but lovable character in Veronica, who struggles between desperately wanting her old life back, and her new life that has alliances with the misfits and low-status people in the community.

The show uses the noir genre to keep the audience guessing, while adding pop culture humor to keep teens interested, and the show fresh. There is plenty of relationship drama on the show, but Veronica’s journey and struggles, as well as those of her father, friends, and community, are given consideration. It’s a show whose details, references, and handling of some issues may have aged, but whose overall strength has not faded with time.

 

Reader’s Annotation:

Veronica’s your average girl. Except for the “teenage detective with a serious rebellious streak” thing.

 

Author Biography:

N/A

 

Genre:

Mystery, Drama

 

Curriculum Ties:

N/A

 

Booktalk Ideas:

Present with a small murder mystery game.

Sell the have vs. have-nots aspect of the series, and emphasize the humor and anti-authoritarian streak with the main character.

 

Age Range or Reading Level:

15+

 

Challenge Issues and Defense Preparation:

This series deals with many issues and experiences teens can relate to that may be challenged, including:

-teen sexuality

-violence

-rape/sexual assault

-drug use

-substance abuse

-corruption

-mental health

Defense File:

Collection Development Policy

  1. Have readily available

  2. Have staff be familiar with the document

  3. Have staff know and be trained on how to use the policy in a conversation about a challenged book

  4. Have staff be familiar with the process of reporting challenged books

ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom

ALA Library Bill of Rights

ALA Document on the First Amendment & Censorship

ALA Challenge Support

ALA: How to Respond to Challenges and Concerns about Library Resources

Professional reviews, as published by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus

  1. Staff should be familiar with these sites, and be able to explain why librarians use them

Rating and information found on Commonsense Media

Any applicable awards for the title or author

  

Why Included:

Although the series takes place in the 2000s, it’s still funny and deep, with characters that continue to be relevant and interesting. Topics like domestic violence, rape, incest, racism, poverty, and drug use are all featured, but not in any exploitative way. With the upcoming season/revival, teens will be looking to explore the original series.

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Via Giphy

Via  Giphy

Via Giphy

 

Riverdale, Season 1 (2017)

Main cast:

K.J. Appa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Casey Cott, Madelaine Petsch

Creator: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Age: TV-14

Format: DVD, streaming

Run time: 572 minutes

Plot Summary:

Classic comic characters Betty, Archie, Veronica, and Judghead are back in Riverdale. Good girl Betty‘s in love with her best friend Archie, and Jughead’s facing rough times. When Veronica, an assertive girl with secrets, moves back to town with her mother, sparks fly and life in Riverdale changes. Amid the drama and love triangles with the main crew, we see the season’s long-arc: Jason Blossom, boyfriend of Betty’s sister, is found dead. Who killed him, and why?

 

Critical Evaluation:

The show is at both times fun and angsty (largely because of Jughead). While there is a focus on the murder plot, and the family dynamics of the teens, most of the focus is on the teens themselves and their relationships with one another. Most of the vocal fans are “shippers,” who watch the show for the relationships; as such, the content focuses on that. We see Betty pine for best friend Archie, but fall into the arms of Jughead as Archie becomes enamored with the new Veronica. There is an inclusion of a gay character, but he is not given as much screen time; nor are other characters of color such as Josie.

The show is successful in its visuals: the bright red hair of the Blossoms, the campy, 50s feel of the shots, and the overall atmosphere it creates. While at times cheesy and over-the-top, the show does offer plot twists and covers topics that are relevant to teens, such as sex and drug use.

Reader’s Annotation:

You know Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica. But do you know Riverdale, a town full of secrets . . . and murder?

 

Author Biography:

N/A

 

Genre:

Mystery, Drama

 

Curriculum Ties:

N/A

 

Booktalk Ideas:

Pair the classic or revamped comics with the new show. How are they different? Which is more appealing?

 

Age Range or Reading Level:

15+

 

Challenge Issues and Defense Preparation:

This series deals with many issues and experiences teens can relate to that may be challenged, including:

-teen sexuality

-violence

-drug use

-suicide

-substance abuse

-teen pregnancy

Defense File:

Collection Development Policy

  1. Have readily available

  2. Have staff be familiar with the document

  3. Have staff know and be trained on how to use the policy in a conversation about a challenged book

  4. Have staff be familiar with the process of reporting challenged books

ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom

ALA Library Bill of Rights

ALA Document on the First Amendment & Censorship

ALA Challenge Support

ALA: How to Respond to Challenges and Concerns about Library Resources

Professional reviews, as published by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus

  1. Staff should be familiar with these sites, and be able to explain why librarians use them

Rating and information found on Commonsense Media

Any applicable awards for the title or author

  

Why Included:

This is a favorite new drama with teens. Although it features many “scandalous” topics, teens find the characters relatable and the twists shocking. Not all materials will be educational or edifying; some are just meant to entertain, and this is an excellent choice for entertainment.


Fruits Basket (2001)

Main cast: Laura Bailey, Eric Vale, Yui Horie, Aya Hisakawa, Jerry Jewell, John Burgmeier

Creator: Akitaro Daichi, Studio Deen

Age: TV-PG

Format: DVD, streaming (Funimation) (Dubbed - English)

Run Time: 798 minutes

Plot Summary:

Sweet Tohru Honda is trying to live her life, but it’s hard: after her father died when she was a baby, it was just Tohru and her mom. They lived happily until a horrible accident left Tohru orphaned and homeless. Tohru finds a place to live and is getting by living in a tent until her home is discovered by the owners of the land: the Sohma family! They allow her to live with them, and she makes fast friends with Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure. Yuki’s the school’s popular boy, and Tohru is eager to get to know him. All goes well until she discovers the big Sohma family secret: when hugged by a member of the opposite sex, the Sohma family members turn into members of the Chinese Zodiac! Will Tohru keep this secret? What will the powerful head of the family do when he discovers Tohru knows the truth?

 

Critical Evaluation:

Based on an incredibly popular manga series, this anime features well-chosen voice actors: Laura Bailey suits Tohru’s sweet, shy, determined nature, Jerry Jewell fits Kyo’s energetic and angry persona, and Aya Hisakawa easily pulls off the male voice, giving Yuki a strange, quiet power that suits his character. The animation and story fits the sweet, light, and funny tone of the manga, while giving the emotional issues the weight they deserve. While it does not cover the entire series, it ends on a note that makes sense. Teens today still enjoy watching the anime and reading the manga, and fighting over Kyo and Yuki.

 

Reader’s Annotation:

The Sohmas seem normal, but they’re hiding a big secret: when they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex, they turn into members of the Chinese Zodiac!

 

Author Biography:

N/A

 

Genre:

Fantasy

 

Curriculum Ties:

N/A

 

Booktalk Ideas:

Play the trailer

Ask teens what animal they would choose to turn into — but at the same price as the Sohmas!

 

Age Range or Reading Level:

15+

 

Challenge Issues and Defense Preparation:

This series deals with many issues and experiences teens can relate to that may be challenged, including:

-violence

-implied sexual innuendo

-death

-depression

-abuse

Defense File:

Collection Development Policy

  1. Have readily available

  2. Have staff be familiar with the document

  3. Have staff know and be trained on how to use the policy in a conversation about a challenged book

  4. Have staff be familiar with the process of reporting challenged books

ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom

ALA Library Bill of Rights

ALA Document on the First Amendment & Censorship

ALA Challenge Support

ALA: How to Respond to Challenges and Concerns about Library Resources

Professional reviews, as published by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus

  1. Staff should be familiar with these sites, and be able to explain why librarians use them

Rating and information found on Commonsense Media

Any applicable awards for the title or author

  

Why Included:

This is a classic in shojo anime/manga! The manga series continues to circulate, especially with the new omnibus editions, and teens always like to see how the anime compares.