AVAHS – 6Teen: In a Retail Wonderland

Plot: During the holiday season, Caitlyn becomes a professional shopper and finds herself losing the drive to shop after breaking up with her boyfriend. Nikki tries to avoid an embarrassing vacation to Acapulco with her parents. Jen tries to deal with increasing pressure at work. Jude gives everyone odd Christmas presents. Jonesy works as a wrapper but finds his turf impeded by Ron. Wyatt deals with his anti-Christmas boss, Wayne, who is forcing him to work on Christmas.

Breakdown: I haven’t watched much of 6Teen, but I think I’ve noticed a big flaw in it. There are too many plots running at once.

It’s a 21 minute long episode and we technically have six plots running at once, and each plot needs to merge with another at some point. I get that a lot of these quick problems are meant to reflect the everyday issues (albeit exaggerated) that teens would encounter while working at a mall, but it’s a big car crash of plots.

Caitlyn loses her drive to shop after she breaks up with her boyfriend, Connor. He’s apparently never been brought up before now, we only see him once, he gets no dialogue, and Caitlyn gets over her funk because he was a ‘loser’ wearing antlers for his job, which, as Nikki points out, is hypocritical because Caitlyn wears a lemon hat at hers.

Nikki doesn’t want to go on vacation with her super-Christmassy parents. Caitlyn tells her to go because they’re going for her and deciding to go is just as much a gift for them as it is for her, so she goes. This one, despite being equally quick as the others, was probably the best plot. Also, what profound words from a girl who just got over her boyfriend because he was deemed unworthy of her attention because he wears antlers at his job…..

Jude, who is my favorite character so far, just floats around giving random gifts to people and sometimes kinda contributes to a scene.

Jen is perpetually pissed off at her boss because he’s a jerk, I guess, and she learns yoga and meditation to calm herself, but she still pulls bad numbers and risks being fired. Caitlyn gets back her drive to shop again and orders all sorts of stuff from Jen at the store, saving her job….the one she hates.

The plot with Jonesy doesn’t even get resolved. He gets tasked to be a gift wrapper and is actually very good at it. Seeing the good money, Ron, the security guard who…hates the teens (?) muscles in on his turf, proving to be a good wrapper too. He offers Jonesy an assortment of cookies, he eats the security guard gingerbread man and that’s it. I have no clue what else I’m supposed to take from that.

There was an even smaller plot involving him decorating the mall Christmas tree and it obviously being set up to fall at the end of the episode….and it does.

The weirdest breakneck plot, though, is a sudden A Christmas Carol parody. Wayne, Wyatt’s terrible boss at the movie store, doesn’t want to promote Christmas movies because, in his words, they suck. To make matters worse, he forces Wyatt to work on Christmas.

As he naps, he gets visited extremely quickly by the ghosts of Christmas Past, represented by Jen, Present, represented by Wyatt, and Yet to Come, represented by Jude. Jen shows us that Wayne used to be so into movies, Christmas movies in particular, that he’d refuse to go to the bathroom while watching one and would pee his pants all the time because of it.

Wyatt then shows us that he’s now an ass who doesn’t like Christmas movies….so there’s no explanation as to why he’s this way. It’s just ‘You used to be nice and love Christmas movies, but now you’re a twenty-something dick who doesn’t.’

Jude BS’s his way through his part, and it’s kinda funny. It all culminates in him just telling him to be a better person.

Somehow, this does indeed cause him to pull a 180 and he suddenly becomes incredibly nice and Christmassy, to an almost weird level. He gives the teens a big bag of chips and…I guess it’s meant to imply Wyatt gets Christmas off now.

There’s nothing seriously wrong with this special. It’s perfectly fine. I got some smiles out of it, but no laughs. It just has a bit plot web problem. No plot is the main one and they all run at once, some into each other, making things more complicated.

Plus, I didn’t really care about what was happening. Nothing felt like it had any stakes. There was also only a little Christmas spirit here, which isn’t a terrible thing. Sometimes, it’s a bit much when specials feel the need to be overtly festive. Even though I would’ve liked a little more, it was a realistic level and there were some heartstrings pulled a tiny bit with Nikki’s plot.


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) 6Teen

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Plot: Jen, Nikki, Jude, Jonesy and Wyatt all made a pact to get jobs at the mall over the summer so they could hang out. So far, Jen’s the only one with a job at a juice stand called The Big Squeeze. She’s aiming for a new job at the sports equipment store, The Penalty Box, but the others fumble through their job interviews at the other outlets. As they try again, Jen, now hired at The Penalty Box, trains a spoiled rich ditzy girl named Caitlyn to take over her job at the juice stand in order to pay off her insane credit card bill after her father flipped out over the expenses.

Breakdown: I’ve been a bit harsh on 6Teen in the past. I’ve referenced it in a bad light. I’ve mocked it. It was just here and there, but I did it. The reason I feel particularly guilty about that, even if I didn’t do it a lot, is because I never once saw a full episode of the series. I had seen the theme song and about one minute of one episode. Plus, other people poked fun at it, so I shoved my foot on that bandwagon. I don’t like making fun of things that I’ve never seen or experienced, and I did that with 6Teen. I’m sorry 6Teen.

That being said, I have now given a full episode a go and…..some of my mockings were justified, but I think there’s more to this show than meets the eye. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but it made me smile a bit. It is filled with a bunch of annoying teenagerisms, but it’s also relatable.

As a first episode, this does a good job at establishing the personalities of the main characters, even if I was at a loss for most of their names for nearly the whole episode. I managed to remember Jen, Caitlyn and Jonesy but when it came to the other three I had to look it up on the Wiki, which is kinda sad because the theme song flashes their names twice. In my defense, it goes by very fast, and they’re accompanied by silhouettes.

All of the characters have memorable character designs at least, and I actually recognized Nikki from the one little clip I watched many moons ago.

They fit well as a group of friends, with all of them being typical teenagers, none of which seemingly the popular type. Caitlyn’s the only exception, but that’s the point of her character. She’s about as exaggerated as they come in regards to ditzy rich popular girl tropes.

She doesn’t understand that credit cards have limits, believes that employees hire people to do their jobs for them, and bought a brand new Vespa because her old one had a flat tire and didn’t realize that such a problem could be repaired. When she gets a job to repay her father, she’s effectively disowned by her equally self-absorbed materialistic friend, Trisha, just because of her doofy uniform. She becomes friends with the main group shortly after, and they accept her just fine, even if they obviously poke fun at her obliviousness to the real world.

The art style has always bothered me a bit. It’s an odd craggy style with no lineart where everyone looks like they’re animated slightly like those paper dolls you made in art class with the little hinge clips. They’re very toothy, their expressions are always a little off, and it made me think that this show was based off of a series of binder and other school supply logo artwork.

The tone and situations are very relatable for the teen crowd. Hanging out at the mall with your friends, trying to get a job, experiencing the somewhat ridiculous nature of job interviews, learning that friends sometimes only care about you for how you make them look etc. I particularly enjoyed the job interview segment. That was the highlight of the episode by far.

This show is praised for the fact that it actually has slightly more mature dialogue and situations than most other animated shows aimed at teens and tweens. For example, Wyatt makes an innuendo joke by saying ‘Grind Me’ when everyone’s saying where they applied for a job. He’s talking about a coffee shop.

Then they show two teenagers who are making out in the sloppiest way I’ve ever seen animated. Flopping tongues, drool everywhere, it was blech. According to some reviewers, they also make other pokes at sex, discuss aspects of sexuality such as erections and say some ‘swears’ like ‘ass’ and ‘boobs’.

I haven’t seen any further than the ‘grind me’ joke and the makeout session, but if they do have more mature material then I gotta applaud them for that too, as long as it’s done right.

One of the bigger problems I see for this show, however, is its target demographic. I think the target audience is very small.

At most, it’s probably 13 to 15. Any younger and they probably won’t be able to relate nor will they be old enough to watch some of subject matter.

Any older and you’ll just be mostly lost because many older teens don’t want to watch cartoons, unless they’re particularly raunchy or aimed specifically at adults.

And I gotta tell ya, the art was not helping there either. The bright pastel colors and highly, for lack of a better term, cartoony style really don’t make you think this series is meant for upper teen audiences. Ironically, it doesn’t make you think anyone who is 16 will watch 6Teen.

If you’re an adult who still enjoys the animated world, you may enjoy some of the episodes for a nostalgic feel, but the jury’s out on whether the comedy and storylines have enough substance to make you want to go back and watch the rest of this series.

Verdict:

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I enjoyed the episode enough to give it a few more episodes, but, like I said, I’m still on the fence about whether or not this seems worth pursuing for the entirety of the series. I never was one for SOL teen shows, except maybe Lizzie McGuire and Boy Meets World. If I watched a teen show, it usually had to involve super powers of some kind. Maybe this show will change my mind over time.

Recommended Audience: There’s one innuendo joke that I don’t think kids would get and there’s one tongue-tastic makeout scene. 10+


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