Glances, dances, romances

An overview of gendered sexual narratives in teen drama series

Authored by: Susan Berridge

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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Issues of sexuality are central to the teen drama series genre. Programs focus on teenage characters as they mature; sexual development is key in marking this transition from childhood to adulthood. From lingering glances signaling attraction between characters, to first dates and kisses shortly afterwards, and then to the formation of monogamous, sexual relationships, the serial structure of these programs parallels the normative developmental narrative of sexuality. At the same time, the liminal teenage period is portrayed as particularly vulnerable; both male and female teenage characters’ fallibility and vulnerability, including their vulnerability to sexual pressure, manipulation, and abuse, is a recurring and prominent theme of the genre. This chapter explores how this vulnerability is gendered and sexualized in significant ways.

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