Editors’ Letter: The Turning Point

Rory (Alexis Bledel, right) celebrates her birthday with Lane (Keiko Agena, left) in Gilmore Girls, “Rory’s Birthday Parties”, 1×6 (2000).

By Claire White and Odalis Garcia Gorra | September 21, 2021

As is a common saying at birthdays, Grow Up has made it a year around the sun! So fill up your red solo cup, press play on the hype mix, and start rolling with the homies. We want to thank you all for joining the party. 

When we were building Grow Up, we would be lying if we weren’t slightly worried about creating a website with such a niche focus: would anyone be interested? Does anyone even care about teen film and television as much as we do? And the most horrifying of all, will we get any pitches?! 

Luckily, even before we launched on this day a year ago, the pitches had flooded in and we were able to launch with twelve amazing pieces, ranging from Disney Channel Original Movies to Studio Ghibli, from forgotten gems to modern classics and everything in between! We were blown away from the support, and interest in our passion project. And now, a year on, the pitches keep on coming, and with every email we receive with writers trusting us with their work, and love for our mission, every worry about our niche dissipates. Instead, we are touched, excited to work, and grateful to engage with their stories and share their point of view. At risk of sounding like your high school English teacher (we do love a high school film), it has been so rewarding to work with our contributors, and see them go off to do amazing things. 

We are passionate about youth on screen, and we are passionate about these conversations about how their depictions impact our lives. In our very first Editors Letter for our ‘New Beginnings’ issue, we shared our hopes that this website could “inspire others to revisit their childhood, or be inspired to rethink the critical value of the teen and coming-of-age genres.” If we have inspired you to rethink how you approach these genres, or to write about them, then we are glad.

And here we are, a year on, and we’ve got a lot to celebrate! So, let’s do what the genres we love do best: let’s party. 

One good party can shift everything you understood to be true. What once was is upturned by the possibility of what could be. There is nothing that showcases that possibility more than teen films and TV shows — as audiences we see the exuberance of youthful energy (think: every party in The OC), the letting loose before any real consequences set in, this weird in-between of almost-adulthood but not quite reaching it. One thing is for sure: teens love to party. Herein, you’ll find what makes it interesting for us, the audience, to watch how parties make everything fall apart, fall together, and ultimately (hopefully) make life just a little more fun.

A party can represent a turning point, and drastically change the direction of your life (The Liminal Space of the Remington Party by Sydney Bollinger). Sometimes the best parties aren’t the biggest, or even planned. Just two people dancing together can open up new possibilities, and vulnerabilities (The Art of the Two Person Dance Party by Tiia Kelly). Speaking of dancing, while it might have been a while since some of us have been able to let loose, it is undeniable that parties can leave a lasting impression (We Were Here: An Ode to the ‘Wannabe’ Dance in One Tree Hill by Claire White). All in all, if there’s one thing to take away from the teen film party, it’s that it’s important to remember to still celebrate the little things — even if it’s just that you made it through the day — and party whenever you can (Seize the Day, or Rewatching ‘Empire Records’ in the Age of COVID by Mahnaz Dar).

It is this last point which seems especially important right now. As we continue to grow up and deal with whatever roadblocks life seems to throw at us, we should celebrate whenever — whatever — we can. We have called this issue The Turning Point, not only because launching Grow Up was it’s own turning point, but because we realised that parties, and what we understand constitutes as a party, can be a turning point for all of us.

So bake a cake, get dressed up, pour yourself a drink. Dance with your friends when you can, dance alone in your room just because. Party on. It’s all a part of growing up. 

Xoxo

C + O

Claire & Odalis
Grow Up Co-Founders

Editors’ Letter: New Beginnings

new beginnings feature image

By Claire White & Odalis Garcia Gorra | September 21, 2020

Every year around this time, a shift occurs. Day and night are of equal length, and the earth moves into a new season. For Odalis, this signifies autumn and for Claire, this means spring. When we decided to create Grow Up this release date seemed cosmically apt. A change of pace for the two of us. And especially a change in how we think and talk about youth on screen. 

Our love of Glee and shared late-night/early morning discussions of the show on Tumblr dot com brought us together. Now, many years from those moments, we are still having very similar conversations. Maybe with a little more nuance than our 15-year old selves could allow, but that was foundational in our understanding of how media representations impacts us in meaningful ways. And now, with pandemic times running amok, we wanted a reminder to tap into our younger selves. To understand what it is that brings us joy at an elemental level. May this seasonal shift spark glee into our lives.

Every two months we will have an ‘Issue’ based around a certain theme. These Issues will highlight topics which are important and frequent in narratives about youth. There is no one way of growing up, and while some concepts are universal and reocurring, the way we relate to them can be quite different. By opening the conversation to a diverse range of perspectives, we hope to explore coming-of-age and adolescence in wide-reaching ways.

While there will be a call for pitches for future themes, New Beginnings was specially curated out of our pool of pitches. That we were able to fill the Issue this way just goes to show how prevalent new beginnings are to the coming-of-age genre and growing up. Youth can be a time when everything is new and exciting! It’s a time of self-discovery, either in discovering your purpose (The Roads to Maturity and Self-Discovery in ‘Whisper of the Heart’ by Miguel Galang), recognizing a part of your identity you did not realize before (Me and Jo March: Locating Queerness at The Orchard House by Anna Burnham), or daringly discover the beginnings of a new love that will span a lifetime (Analog Love in a Digital World: Re-watching ‘Before Sunrise’ 25 Years On by Sam Nicholls). But youth is also daunting, either by being on the precipice of the unknown annals of adulthood (Growing Up with “Scream”: A Closer Look at High School Musical 3’s Most Dramatic Song by Katherine Clowater), or representing a time where hope came easier, and thus is something we return to, searching for a semblance of a do-over (‘Never Been Kissed,’ and Why We Still Watch High School Movies in Adulthood by Claire White).

This is also our New Beginning. Our years-long friendship culminated into a website dedicated to our love for a genre which not only brought us together all those years ago, but we are also passionate about discussing and exploring in the critical and journalistic space. A genre worthy of love and attention. By exploring the films and television shows which helped us grow up, we hope Grow Up can inspire others to revisit their childhood, or be inspired to rethink the critical value of the teen and coming-of-age genres. To really dive deep into the conversations that otherwise would not be happening. We hope to celebrate and provide a space for which previously did not exist (where else can you write essays about Disney Channel Original Movies?) for writers established and emerging.

We are excited about this project, something we wish was around when we were growing up. We hope you are excited, too. 

XOXO

C + O 

Claire & Odalis
Grow Up Co-Founders

P.S: While we were editing and setting this website up, a lot of hours of The OC were watched. Talk about new beginnings, Ryan Atwood.