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Teens on the small screen

”The Paper” and ”High School Confidential” focus on the reality of adolescence

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While her cohorts celebrate a birthday across town, high school senior Amanda Lorber sits at home with a girlfriend, sings a Joan Baez tune, and laments not being invited to the bash. There’s nothing glamorous about the bespectacled overachiever at the center of MTV’s The Paper, which follows the hormonal staffers of Cypress Bay High School’s monthly broadsheet, The Circuit. But the drama is far more true to life than what anybody at the center of The Hills or The Real World has served up lately. ”That is who this young woman is. She’s proud of it,” says exec producer Dave Sirulnick. ”Our viewers want to see something more reflective of their reality.”

The Paper is just one in a raft of new projects that take a refreshing zits-and-all approach as they attempt to document today’s youth: WE recently wrapped High School Confidential, which followed 12 Kansas girls from freshman through senior year, while HBO’s Baghdad High (debuting in August) chronicles the lives of four teens in the war-torn Iraqi capital. And buzz is building for the July 25 release of Sundance fave American Teen, a real-life take on The Breakfast Club that deconstructs five teen archetypes, including the misunderstood, artsy girl; the nerdy, dateless boy; and the jock. ”The stuff that’s been on television has largely focused on wealthy kids,” explains director Nanette Burstein. ”What the film is really trying to say is: Yes, we know these are the stereotypes that you’re used to seeing in movies, but this is the real story of who you are.” — with additional reporting by Adam Markovitz

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