Can MTV’s “Underemployed” be the voice of twenty-somethings?
This October, MTV is premiering a new scripted series called Underemployed about a group of recent college graduates who are struggling in this economy and must take humiliating, underpaying jobs to support themselves. You can check out the trailer here.
Underemployed was created by Craig Wright, who also created Dirty Sexy Money. His desire to make a show about twenty-somethings in the real world came from his son, who is 23-years-old and fresh out of college. Zap2It quotes him as saying:
I don’t pretend to be the one who can speak to this generation but I’m very very deeply interested in letting the show be a platform so that the voices of people this age can be heard.
But how can a fictional TV show be a platform for the voices of real people?
No matter how relatable Underemployed’s protagonists are, anybody who watches them will know that they’re not real people; they’re made-up characters. Their characterizations could have been adapted from the lives of real twenty-somethings, but they also could have been thought up by a much older writer based on how he thinks people in their twenties should act and feel.
Rather than create made-up characters and scenarios, why not make a reality show about twenty-somethings? Find young adults who are struggling to follow their dreams, and film them as they attempt to begin a career in their desired field. They could also be dealing with issues like paying off college loans, moving back in with their parents, or supporting a spouse and young children.
A show like this would be a platform for real twenty-somethings to express real feelings and opinions. It would also provide a nationwide spotlight to the problems that twenty-somethings are facing in this economy; we hear all the time how people in their twenties struggle to find employment, but how often do we actually see what they’re going through?
I feel like most reality shows are just guilty pleasures; we’re engrossed with reality stars because they’re glamorous, violent, or just plain weird. But we could be watching people who are hard-working and dedicated, who face down adversity, who are role models instead of train wrecks. Twenty-somethings who are trying to begin a career have these qualities in spades, and they deserve national recognition more than Honey Boo Boo or the Kardashians.