A few years ago a storm of reality television began collecting. "Fear Factor" "Survivor" "The Osbournes" Every network wanted in on the ratings grabbing phenomenon. To the viewers, the shows were addicting, they watched with a soap opera-like gaze. So the networks brought out hundreds of new reality TV shows over the next seasons. Forms of reality television had existed years before this boom, and with this new wave it was certainlly here to stay, having made it's mark in television history.

One reality TV show stood out from the rest. In some ways it couldn't really be considered apart of the reality TV storm, not having the same motivations. "American High" was a documentary-like reality show following the lives of 14 students in their senior year of high school. It was genuine and un-scripted, and had started a new path for reality TV. Since then more television shows documenting youth have been put together. "Senior Year" was also about students in their final year of high school, however this series took place in a diverse high school in Los Angeles, as opposed to the white suburb of American High. "Freshman Diaries" (from the same creator of "American High") watched the lives of a group of freshman at the University of Texas-Austin. Finally, "Freshman Year" chronicled the youngest group-freshman in high school. These shows are not only different because they truly define reality TV, but because they are not a portrayal of youth. These shows are today's youth. For teenagers, these are stories they can actually relate to. Parents can watch to achieve an understanding of such a new, misrepresented generation.

The creators of these innovative reality shows are not mercenaries or voyeurs. They understand the importance of giving youth a voice, while accepting and respecting them at the same time. David Zeiger, director of "Senior Year" says, "The kids of Senior Year are on the cutting edge of a new culture emerging in this country, one who's outlines and contours are yet to be known. They are neither a melting pot nor a salad bowl - they are individuals who, if we listen, can be our teachers and guides into the new century."