From ages 9-17 I went to a school that required a uniform, so I, without protest, donned an ill-fitting button-down every day. I was quiet in the hallways, raised my hand before asking questions, and dutifully adhered to all traffic signs. From the outside I had all the markings of your run of the mill Shy Teen Girl.
But as soon I got home from school I’d sprint to my bedroom and turn on Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Or Arctic Monkeys. Or Taylor Swift. And still dressed in that same button-down I’d sing (shout) the lyrics, jumping around that blue room with all my idols, joyfully exhausting myself. I’d stop, catch my breath for a moment, then reload the music video and start the ritual all over again. My favorite line to belt was from YYY’s “Cheated Hearts.” I’d turn the volume all the way up right before Karen O said, “Sometimes I think that I’m bigger than the sound.”
When you’re a teenager it’s so easy to feel small, but actually teenagers are the opposite. Loving things so fervently requires a mightiness.
When we went to tape our show on Tuesday, it was the morning after the attack in Manchester. Teenagers build communities for each other at these kinds of events, in the shared appreciation of an idol. It’s a space of unabashed glee, and for kids from completely different backgrounds to all come together, at least for a night. During the taping everyone was shaken up, because everyone saw it as an attack on that exact kind of energy. Personally, the assault hit that 17-year-old space in me, and made me think about how listening to music and going to concerts were the times when I felt the freest, and were the times that ultimately shaped my adult self. For that freedom to be potentially taken away is heartbreaking.
But as we watched back some of our segments on Tuesday, I was reminded of the fact that above anything else, teenagers are wholehearted and resilient. And that’s what we wanted to celebrate on the show this week. We spoke to actual teens (!) about 13 Reasons Why and they proved just that. Then we played a silly Degrassi game with a man who was somehow also once a teenager, Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Tonight’s show is for those crazy, hormonal, lovely, slightly insane, sort of amazing teens. Be sure to finish your homework by 9/8 central, so you can tune into Fusion. Thanks kids.
Keerthi Harishankar is the script supervisor for The A.V. Club television show, which airs Thursday evenings on Fusion. It’s also available on your favorite set-top gadgets, like Apple TV and Amazon Fire Stick. And the Roku.