You do get the feeling watching My Year 12 Life that you are given intimate access to the private lives of Australian teens in 2017.
With 14 young teens from around Australia given cameras to film video-diaries and snapshots of their lives, this is a raw and sometimes-frenzied insight into a seminal year in their lives.
After all they are on the cusp of adulthood, they are learning to drive, forming relationships and pinning their hopes on their final year of high school.
The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) score could make or break their future.
“I don’t want to be a family failure,” says one.
“If I don’t (get a high score) I’m dead. My mum will run me over,” says another.
But for most it is a year of unrelenting stress.
“All this study, it’s so ridiculous,” one girl suggests.
“There has to be something wrong with the system to make kids feel this way,” adds another.
“Why do we have to study every single day, every single hour?” another agrees.
“It’s slowly killing me and they don’t even care.”
The teens come from various socio-economic groups and family units around the country: inner city private schools, Central NSW high schools and even public schools in rural Western Australia.
They are 14 of 200,000 others who will be experiencing similar feelings across the same year.
“All I can think about is schoolies and my 18th,” says Alfie from Sydney. His islander family is heavily religious. “My number 1 priority is my family and friends.”
Kayla, from Inner Melbourne also has a close family unit. “You can trust friends, some of them, but you can really trust your family,” she says, noting, “Your reputation is everything.”
Trianna from Melbourne explains that most of her peers are teens from immigrant-based families, whose
parents gave up a lot to give them an education.
Alex, rejects mocking about learning through the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning. “You don’t do VCAL because you’re stupid, you do it because you want to learn a trade, and you want to learn hands-on.”
Jess, also from Melbourne works at Woolworths. She really wants to join the army.
You will also meet Shianna who loves collecting new clothes; Angela, who has black belt in taekwando; and Tom, whose relationship with his girlfriend, gets “edgy” during the pressures of Year 12.
There are candid, humour moments amid the up close and personal lives of the 14 teens. The pace of this editing hell is fast, and it frequently feels like a montage on speed. A little more room to breathe would not go astray.
But Princess Pictures and ABC are to be applauded for affording such trust and access to young lives, unfiltered for the rest of us.
“I don’t get how your ATAR when you’re 18 should define the rest of your life,” Eden laments.
Oh Eden, you will eventually learn that’s up to you. But we hear you.
My Year 12 Life airs 7:30pm Monday – Wednesday on ABC ME.
6:30pm Sundays on ABC.