I’m calling it, most high school-based shows are shit. The actors are too old, the story lines are too predictable and sometimes there are random out bursts of song when the show is trying too hard to be cool (Glee, I’m looking at you).
But don’t worry, I’ve found the holy grail of high school shows. One that’s real and relatable and doesn’t have 30-year-olds acting like they’re 17.
It’s ABC’s ‘My Year 12 Life’.
I’ll admit, ABC isn’t usually my go-to for a solid bingeable series. Normally, the Netflix Gods are the ones that deliver the TV goods and if I have any important deadlines coming up you’ll probably find me avoiding them by powering through whatever Netflix has dropped recently. But hear me out, because ABC has hit the nail on the head with this series.
Lemme give you some background- it’s a reality show that revolves around fourteen REAL Aussie teens, from all over the country, and (you guessed it) their Year 12 life. The footage is in vlog style, there’s no on the ground camera crew and each teen is basically making a video diary about the lead up to their final exams. There’s family clashes, experiences of moving houses, passing driving tests, competitive schools and elite sports. Mix in an overwhelming feeling of impending doom as their final exams creep closer and you have ‘My Year 12 Life’.
The footage gets intensely personal and with the cast being so diverse, you’ll probably see yourself reflected in the stories. From Angela who’s struggling to live up to the expectations of her parents, to Tom who’s living away from home and trying to keep up with school and work to Shianna who has big dreams but doesn’t know how she’s going to make them happen. There are elements of each story that will resonate with you regardless of what you’re going through. And, despite how different each member of the cast is, they are all feeling the pressure of Year 12, and that’s what makes this show so damn good.
‘My Year 12 Life’ doesn’t gloss over the shitty parts of the final year of school. You see the struggle as each of the cast tries to keep up in the race that is Year 12. And for some of them, it all gets too much with heartbreaking confessions, tears and tantrums. The show is so brutally honest in showing how hard just getting through the school day can be when you’re being fed the idea that Year 12 is the be all and end all.
Which is what makes it the perfect series to show literally everyone. It’s for the students who are moving through Year 12 now, as a reminder that they’re not the only ones who are struggling. It’s for the parents who are expecting their kids to get an ATAR in the 90s. It’s for the teachers who have forgotten what it’s like to be squeezed through a system that reduces whole people to numbers. It’s for the people who have already graduated and managed to make it through alive.
The series is already up to episode twelve, but they only go for about thirty minutes each and they’re super easy to watch so you can chuck them on while you pretend to type up your essay or in the background during dinner. So, show your friends, show your family and show your teachers. This show reminds everyone that Year 12 can be rough, and for once, the experiences of young people aren’t being labelled as whingeing and whining. What ‘My Year 12 Life’ does is remind us that we are more than our final exams. We are living and breathing human beings who are worth more than a final percentage or ranking.
Watch ‘My Year 12 Life’ on ABC iView, new eps. every Mon, Tues & Wed.