Millennial Media: Week Seven
It was quite interesting to watch Supernatural in juxtaposition with Secret Life of the American Teenager. Besides their common religious-based narrative, the only other similarity I found between the two shows was that neither narrative resonated with me personally. The superficial surreal storyline of Supernatural makes it difficult to form a personal relation. Never have my friends nor myself been confronted with a pending apocalypse or challenged by supernatural powers. In his essay “Praxis,” Line Nybro Petersen describes how Supernatural plays on the surreal aspect of an alternative, occult reality to attract viewers so that they engage beyond this superficial storyline with the show’s underlying religious messages. It is rather ironic how the unrealistic components of a show contrive a connection with reality—as constituted by the concrete values off of which the show is based. Similar to the role of the occult storyline of Supernatural, I think that the clichéd storyline of the Secret Life of the American Teenager functions as a bridge to the rooted religious and moral messages in the narrative. Petersen’s essay accredits a viewer’s negotiation of the traditional religious messages of Supernatural’s narrative to the utilization of banal religious representations. Similarly, I think that this can be applied to Secret Life of the American Teenager in which the banal religious representations of the extremity of character types with varying moral and religious values serve as a foundation for negotiation among viewers. For me, I found that through the combination of the trite dialogue and the mixture of extreme character types, the storyline was difficult to relate to and quite unrealistic. However, at the same time, I wonder if this combination was intentionally implemented as a vehicle for Millennials to negotiate their religious and moral values like Petersen argues. The Pew Research Center’s poll on “Religion Among the Millennials” exhibits how the Millennial generation is becoming increasingly more unaffiliated with a religious system. Millennials are widely recognized for not conforming to the ideas and interests of others and rather establish their own. Does this mean that the Millennial generation negotiates with religious institutions and practices as a form of conformity? By paralleling religious values that are becoming more commonly rejected by Millennials with unrealistic storylines, do shows like Secret Life of the American Teenager and Supernatural encourage a rejection of religious belief systems? Through characters like the pious, motherly Grace and the magical, superhuman Sam, is the media mocking religious values?