For a while now I've been wondering how I can contribute to the meta discussion on YA works. Both Ben and Tansy wrote really interesting editorials for the first two issues of Shiny and I was kinda at a loss as to what I would say in mine, when it came round to my turn. They both are so much more well-read in recent YA novels than me. What could I possibly have to add to the discussion?
It then occurred to me that what I know about YA is television. I've been a big fan of YA TV series since, well, since I was a young adult myself and I've never really lost my love for it. And I thought what I could add to the discussion is the extra dimension of the celluloid medium.
I have just finished the final season of The Gilmore Girls. This has been a rather serious accomplishment, since in Australia, broadcasting of this show has had obstacles at every turn. It's sad because this show so heavily relies on the in jokes, often of current pop culture, and this is what I loved about this show. And the fast talking. And so much of the pop culture references get dated when you have to wait three years to view the show. As part of my protest to Channel 9, I started buying the series as they were released on Amazon.com and am happy to have finally seen the whole show all the way through.
Although the final season suffers from the change in writers, I noticed something that has kinda piqued my interest. Whilst the show started out deeply entrenched in YA territory - one of our lead characters is embarking on High School (Australian equivalent being Year 10) - by following one year of her life for every year of the show, by the seventh season, we are no longer in YA land anymore, Toto.
And really, isn't any YA ongoing series destined to this end point? Unless the characters stagnate with following instalments using a restart button, a la Star Trek, time must surely move on. And isn't that what we, as consumers of the material, want? I know I want to invest in a character and see them grow and learn and change. And to do that ... don't they have to grow up? Off the top of my head, I came up with some other examples: Harry Potter, Dawsons Creek, The OC, Anne of Green Gables, Roswell and on.
What's interesting to me is that the initial instalments are YA and appeal to a (mostly?) YA audience but as they progress, the characters must surely grow up and grow up along with the initially targeted audience. My question, though, is does that limit the material to the originally hooked audience or can a younger audience buy in? Does the later material still appeal to the younger (or original target demographic) audience even though it is no longer technically YA? And how do you categorise it? Are the final books of Harry Potter still YA? Are shows that finish set in College when they started in High School still considered YA? Would an older audience buy into such material had they not been there for the set up?
And this leads me to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, where for me, all roads inevitably lead. Because, really, is it not the Queen of YA TV? Is it not the be all and end all of everything? (It is for me). And I find myself with a fair bit of time on my hands, suddenly. And in the mood for a bit of angst. And so I thought I might revisit my Mecca and see how the show stands up with this much distance and with this much extra life experience. And so ... over the coming year, Ben and I are aiming to feature two episodes a week here on this blog with some meta discussion and commentary.
And we would love for you to join us. The first episode should be covered here in the third week of January. So feel free to watch ahead or along with us and come past and join in the discussion!