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Teens Want Friendship, Family Stories Over Sex, Romance-Centered Content

Photo by Zachary Nelson via Unsplash

Teens Want Friendship, Family Stories Over Sex, Romance-Centered Content

By Movieguide® Contributor

An annual UCLA study found that teens and young adults want less sex and romance on screen and instead want more media depicting uplifting stories and platonic friendships.

The study found that 47.5% of teens and young adults aged 13-24 believe sex and romance are too prevalent in TV and movies. Rather, 51.5% want more content focused on friendships and platonic relationships.

These results come as most teens and young adults want to see media that reflects their own lives rather than enter into worlds different from their own.

“While it’s true that adolescents want less sex on TV and in movies, what the survey is really saying is that they want more and different kinds of relationships reflected in the media they watch,” said Dr. Yalda T. Uhls, a co-author on the study and an adjunct professor in UCLA’s psychology department.

“We know that young people are suffering an epidemic of loneliness and they’re seeking modeling in the art they consume,” Uhls continued. “While some storytellers use sex and romance as a shortcut to character connection, it’s important for Hollywood to recognize that adolescents want stories that reflect the full spectrum of relationships.”

This means that young people don’t want stories where characters are only happy while in romantic relationships, where the male and female leads end up together or a reliance on love triangles, such as in THE HUNGER GAMES.

Instead, they want to see media focus on “hopeful, uplifting content,” “people with lives like my own,” “family life and relationships with parents” and “content that doesn’t include sex or romance.”

Contrary to what a majority of entertainment centers on, youths don’t want media depicting “partying and/or drugs and drinking,” “current events” and “systemic injustice.”

These results are largely in line with last year’s results, which saw “hopeful, uplifting stories” and “friendships” among the most desired topics and “partying” at the bottom.

This study confirms a wider media trend among all demographics across the country, as most Americans desire uplifting and morally sound content. Despite many examples of box office success showing this to be true, Hollywood has yet to shift its full focus onto these topics.

Movieguide® previously reported:

However, after three years of experimenting and analysis, what was true of the pre-pandemic box office remains true today: movies that reflect the values of the majority audience win big at the box office.

In 2023 the box office numbers are reminiscent of pre-pandemic numbers, thanks in large part to the large amount of family-friendly and moral entertainment coming out in theaters.

According to BoxOffice Mojo data, of the top ten highest-grossing movies in the US, 7 of them contained moral and uplifting content, and patriotic, pro-family themes.

THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE recently surpassed 1.2B at the global box office, making it the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time. It holds the number one spot for domestic box offices earnings, followed closely by GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOLUME 3.