5 Things Teens Are Looking For, According to Teen Dramas

I unironically enjoy teen dramas. When they’re done well, anyway. I don’t need any of that love triangle junk or abusive boyfriends that are supposed to be attractive. But good teen dramas are actually among my favorite to watch, and I find they’re often surprisingly profound… though the questions they raise lack in answers since the writers are secular and don’t have the answers that only the God of the universe provides. So today, inspired in particular by The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, I’d like to talk about a few things that teen dramas show that teens are searching for… and how they’re answered in scripture.

1. A Deeper Understanding of the World’s “Perfections”

Something that a lot of teen dramas explore is the concept of “perfect” things. Whether it’s love or joy, or the way the world has certain absolutes, or smaller and more specific things like a moment spent stargazing with someone you love. In The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, the fourth dimension is one of these “perfect” things. (I want to talk about that specifically, but it doesn’t fit in this post and it’s too small to warrant its own post, so… maybe I’ll write about it on Facebook or something.) The female lead, Margaret, also acknowledges math as a perfect thing, saying, “One thing you have to understand about math: It’s always perfect.”

These “perfect” things are what make teen dramas heartwarming to watch. They’re the moments when everything seems to fall into place, and the world seems to finally be as it should be. And these moments, fueled by love and joy and compassion… they’re fueled by things of God. God is love (1 John 4:8). God is the only source of full and lasting joy (Philippians 4:4-7,10-13). We struggle to be fully compassionate without Christ’s strength (Romans 7:14-19). Teens are searching for this joy, this love, this fullness, and it’s something that only lasts when it’s found in relationship with God (John 10:10b).

2. Answers to the World’s Brokenness

In contrast to the world’s “perfections,” teens also look for answers to the world’s brokenness. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is pretty direct about this, with Margaret saying, “I always thought there was something wrong with the world. Something really broken. Not fixable.” Others—The Fault in Our Stars, for instance—simply address fragments of the brokenness itself. Illness. Pain. Loss. And they always ask, “Why?”

We who believe in the Bible know why. When sin entered the world, the world and mankind in it were cursed (Genesis 3). The world is broken, and will remain broken until Jesus returns. The world groans in labor pangs until that day (Romans 8:19-22).

3. Hope for the Future

But Christ gives us hope! We’re not stuck in the brokenness. We know that it will one day be defeated, and that all things will be made whole (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1). And if we have a relationship with Christ, we know that we will see it and rejoice in it and be part of it (Romans 8:23-25; Revelation 21:3-8)! We will have the privilege of living in that wholeness with Christ for eternity (John 3:16).

Teen dramas often focus on coming-of-age stories. Stories where the characters are moving on to college, or they’re forming long-term relationships, or both. These opportunities and these relationships are what they place their hope in. They believe that these things will bring fulfillment and lasting joy. They want to achieve the next thing and do well. But these are truly only fleeting things. They’re not wrong to pursue. In fact, they can be great parts of life! But the only true fulfillment and the only true hope is found in Christ. All other things are secondary; they’re blessings that He gives us as part of our race toward the finish line that He has set for us (Hebrews 12:1-2).

4. Purpose to Life

Hand-in-hand with hope for the future comes a desire for purpose. In a teen drama that might be building a relationship, or filling a summer with memories, or spending as much time as possible with a dying loved one. Like the goals in the previous point, these aren’t inherently wrong. But those purposes end. And how many of them have lasting, eternal effects? A relationship with Christ gives us permanent, intentional, eternity-shaping purpose. If He has called you, He has already prepared good works for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). He already knows His plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). He has already gifted you, specifically, with exactly the right tools to serve His purpose for your life (Ephesians 4:7-16; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11). And that purpose is forever, and a relationship with Christ and the purposes that come out of that have eternal consequences. Doesn’t a relationship with Christ sound like a glorious purpose?

and i am burdened with glorious purpose | Loki, Tom hiddleston loki, Tom  hiddleston

Part of this trend of future-oriented teen dramas is often a character not knowing what they ought to do next. Which college should they choose? Should they even go to college? What career do they want later? Fortunately, what you should do is included in God’s plan. He promises to direct your paths when you seek Him and His purpose for you.

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:6

5. Someone to Want/Choose Them

Anyone who’s watched even one teen drama knows that they always revolve around a couple. Teenagers want for someone to want them and to choose them. Teens want to feel loved and special and wanted. In teen dramas, the guy wants the girl. The girl wants the guy. Or maybe multiple guys want the girl. Significant others are chosen. And it’s great if those last. But teen dramas paint a rosy picture of teen romance. In real life, dedication is often lacking. Teens “fall out of love.” Some teens never find someone to “fall in love with” in the first place. Teen relationships are often a let-down. But you know who will never let you down, never give you up, never run around and desert you?

Rick Astley.

No, I’m kidding. XD God. God loves you with a love that can never be taken from you. Nothing can separate you from the love of God.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

He loves you so much that He sent His only son to die and rise again so that you might have eternal life with Him.

“For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

If He has called you or is calling you, He chose you before the beginning of time.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” – Ephesians 1:3-6

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” – Romans 8:29-30

You are chosen and you are loved.

Scripture is the answer to all of the desires that teen dramas present. Scripture explains the state of the world. It introduces us to the source of all good things (James 1:17). We are chosen to have relationship with Christ. And a relationship with Christ gives us hope and purpose.

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