Opinion: What Disney doesn’t tell you about high school


Alivia Baker

The increasingly popular multinational entertainment company ‘Disney’ sketches and paints an unrealistic picture of what high school life should look like, causing an abrupt awakening for many incoming students left without the comforts of laugh-track background noise to soften harsh realities.

Frances English, Writer

There comes a time in every child’s life when they shift their eyes from their rose-colored TV screen and fantasize about what their own high school experience might be. Will there be spontaneous outbursts of song and dance? What about a glorious takedown of the school bully? Unfortunately, most teenagers can’t even find time to hum a tune, let alone memorize the entire soundtrack to “High School Musical”. Here is what Disney doesn’t tell you.

High school. It’s a time when you are not only expected to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life, but you also must make your decisions without outbursts of pain and frustration. Unlike what is shown in most kid-friendly TV shows, most teenagers have at least an hour of homework every night depending on what classes they take. There will be no time to prepare an unstoppable plan to take down the evil principal or perfect an act for a battle of the bands contest that will determine your social status. 

There is no better wake-up call to these sad but predictable letdowns than freshman year. Freshman Ruby Dalton ‘25 noted that growing up watching Disney shows, she thought, “Everyone is so happy and gets good grades, and if you don’t, you get a tutor.” She added that “[High school] is harder than I thought it was going to be.” Disney shows don’t show the hard stuff in high school for entertainment reasons, but this creates a false narrative of what high school is really like for kids growing up. 

Disney shows can also make you want to go through challenging and unlikely situations that a charismatic main character may go through. Katelyn Neasham ‘24 mentioned that in the popular show “Jessie”, “Ravi was getting bullied, and I almost romanticized bullying.” She later pointed out that “I thought that someone would come and save you, but really it’s just people talking behind your back.” This gives kids the wrong idea about bullying and other issues. It also forces kids to idealize many awful situations that have no place in a high school setting.  

It’s not just Disney that gives you the wrong idea about high school, but modern television in general and the idealistic view of high school life that has been around for generations. Society is constantly spitting out new ways to view the lives of teenagers to distract from the boring and simple reality. Our job as students is to overcome these untrue utopian normalities and view high school for what it really is. 

What do you think?