Whether you're a member of Generation X's grunginess or a Millennial born with a pristine iPhone attached to your hand, there's a bridge that unites us all on the entertainment front: None of us want our MTV. At least, that's what we say in public.
After all, why would we? The days of staying up late to watch censored music videos are over. We have 24/7 access on YouTube and Vevo for that. And the scourge of culture bred from the Jersey boardwalk? Their 15-minutes are up (and quite frankly, most of us would never admit to liking them to begin with). However, our BuzzFeed-based, faux nostalgia culture is preventing us from actually enjoying what MTV has become - a premiere place to watch smart teen comedies that should make both generations proud.
Current shows like Teen Wolf and Awkward, along with a plethora of quickly canceled gems - The Hard Times of RJ Berger, Underemployed, Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous, I Just Want My Pants Back - brilliantly play out suburban high school experiences and the issues of recent college grads as irreverent, live-action cartoons with hearts of gold. From my point of view, the only true failure was the adaptation of Skins, a show that relied too heavily on the hook of scandal, whereas the rest of the pack (no matter how short lived) have actual bait. They may be less believable than something like 's Girls, but they're equally as sincere and punchier than anything you could possibly find on ABC Family or the CW, the networks where MTV's competing shows live.
MTV's commitment to distinguished and exciting programming is in large part due to David Janollari, MTV's former head of programming, and his replacement, Susanne Daniels. For almost five years, they've been integral in moving past the drunken antics of stupid people and creating bite-sized entertainment (shows are 20 and 40-minutes without commercials online and Netflix) with perfect casts that straddle the line between caricature and real human being that are given a surprising amount of room to evolve, especially compared to soap operas like The Vampire Diaries or The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
One only has to look at Jenna () in MTV's flagship comedy Awkward, who goes from being an unpopular -style character accused of trying to commit suicide in the first episode of season 1 to ultimately becoming an unlikeable stranger to her former self through (sometimes insufferable) wallowing by season 3. Even HBO's Sex and the City, a show which rewrote what your allowed to do in female-centered comedy, had the predictable ending of 's Carrie and Big ending up together. Both Jenna and Carrie are very similar characters - they overanalyze and are selfish, for starters - but it feels very possible that a teenager could end up getting more hurt than saved in a comedy series after building up the confidence she craved.
Even Teen Wolf, a series based on the 1985 , generates a surprising amount of chuckles while dealing with the supernatural in a post-Buffy world, following the supernatural pursuits of new werewolf Scott (). Unlike Buffy, it successfully creates longer story arcs that don't rely as heavily on new creatures every week and it's arguably MTV's main scripted draw, a show that generated its most watched and highest rated broadcasts during season 3. Beyond that, its creating actual stars out of as Stiles, Scott's quirky friend, and as Lydia, a secretly brilliant airhead. O'Brien is currently lined up to star in the adaptation of The Maze Runner and Roden is rumored to have replaced as Mary Jane in 's The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Even though many of MTV's scripted shows have been canceled after one or two seasons so far due to poor ratings, they're still on board with bringing more scripted shows. Most notably, they'll be adapting another film series for TV, 's horror classic Scream. We've talked about how Revenge and Criminal Minds writers and are writing the pilot with series creator Craven rumored to direct the pilot. In the vein of Awkward, they're also working on pilots for a show called Faking It, a show where two friends try to fake being popular, and Happyland, a show about a theme park. After the success of Awkward and Teen Wolf, it wouldn't be surprising to see these shows stick.
The exploitive likes of Teen Mom and Jersey Shore have tarnished a brand that was at the forefront of youth culture for years. Those shows make people want their old MTV. For me, that would consist of dance shows like The Grind, countdowns like TRL, animated classics like Beavis and Butthead, Aeon Flux, and Daria, all the way to the ludicrous after school snacks like Say What? Karaoke and The Blame Game. And who could forget about Jerry Springer solving relationship problems or Limp Bizkit blowing up a boat at MTV's Spring Break? Even that probably makes Generation X's head spin, but I would be a liar if I said that wasn't my MTV. It was golden entertainment that I have no problem admitting is on par with Farrah Abraham's inexplicable tabloid presence.
As such, it's amazing to see how many people still complain about how the MTV of yesteryear when the new product is superior in virtually every way in these limited scripted shows. If you don't believe me, binge-watch Awkward, Teen Wolf, and RJ Berger after your caught up on Game of Thrones.