Growing up in the UK, I consumed a lot of American media.
From Saved by the Bell to Friends, One Tree Hill to The OC – I was obsessed. I dreamt of proms, road trips and even having lockers. In comparison life in the UK always seemed so mundane and restricted.
The thing is, British TV is not bad; we have had some gems, but I can’t say that I’ve ever adored a British TV show more than I did Friends. I was and to some extent still, am obsessed with American lives. I learned so much about America, about the lifestyle and the types of people there.
Before I had ever even visited London, I could describe New York to you.
I thought that everything I watched was an accurate portrayal of the American lifestyle. I idolized the American accents, watched in awe of the big houses, the paper bags and the over-celebrated holidays. The American high school and college experience seemed to be a whole different world from what I experienced.
I had so many questions, like what was with all the high school dances? Why so many and what was the point to them? I mean our schools would not have understood our desire to have these. I don’t think many of the students would have either. Prom was the dream though; all I wanted was to get dressed up and go a cheesy dance. Some of my friends actually tried to organize prom at our high school but it fell through as no-one was particularly interested in it.
Also high school parties? So much drama and excitement!
Maybe I was just in the wrong circles, but all we did was chill at the park after school, there were no crazy nights outs.
One thing I never entirely understood was the sports culture in high schools and colleges. It is nothing I’ve ever seen in the UK.
It seemed to be this huge almost religious event. I watched One Tree Hill and couldn’t get my head around why these players were so revered. I mean, sure playing sports is cool but how is it that so many people are interested in watching these sports.
Also, yeah, being great at something is always awesome, but like they are just humans.
Basically, everything in the US just seemed so much more shiny and exciting than the dreary UK life. I was always slightly bitter that my parents hadn’t opted to move to the US.
Even now when I talk to Americans I almost feel like I am talking to a celebrity: “Please tell me more about your super cool life.”
As an adult, I now understand why America seemed so much better to me. About 85% of all the TV shows and movies I consumed were American, solely because that was what came on TV and what everyone watched.
I have been conditioned from a young age to watch the American lifestyle with awe.
Everything shown on TV shows obviously wasn’t true.
America is huge and there is no nationwide culture, it varies from towns, schools and personal identities. Also, these shows did not represent people of color, so I’m sure had I lived in America, that my life would have been very different. Everything on TV is always an exaggeration. I mean, if everyone’s life was actually like The OC then you would all be extremely dramatic and messed up people.
You see, there is this global idea that America is the “superior” country. I believe that the fact that American TV shows and movies are so universal helps feed into this ideology.
We all know a little bit more about America than we do about other countries.
As great as the USA seems, I’m kind of fine with being in the UK.