Most television shows for audiences younger than 25 are written by people significantly older than the target demographic. On its own, this is all right. It is when these writers attempt to co-opt the culture of the younger generation that the trouble starts.
The biggest problem is slang. Either it's out of date (usually from the writers' own childhood), awkwardly misused, or just used far too frequently in the dialog. Either way, there will be gnarly, bitchin' amounts of it, slathered over the dialogue like sauce over a particularly inept casserole.
Also problematic is what kids do in their leisure time. This can be particularly painful if they're attempting An Aesop about something that's recently become popular. Usually, that involves many stereotypical "bad boy" or "cool" activities, such as videogames, surfing, motorcycling, or fixing cars; a recent example would be grossly stereotypical "Sk8r Boiz". However, even your standard episode won't probably show video games (for instance) as anything but the back of a TV with some Pac-Man-esque beeps and boops played over the soundtrack.
A major problem with this trope as a whole is that it plays into loose stereotypes that really don't apply to the majority of real life children or teenagers. While kids and (especially) teenagers may be more likely to give in to pop culture trends than adults, they too are individuals with their own unique tastes and preferences. Even the latest Teen Idol will likely only have a small fraction of real life teenagers as "hardcore fans", while the remaining 90% of teens will have opinions ranging from disdain to indifference to relatively casual fandom.
This also applies to commercials focused on kids, although they'll at least be knowledgeable about the product they're selling.
Of course, this can be done well. Most producers figure, though, that kids can't tell good writing from bad, and throw whatever out there. Because TV Never Lies, some impressionable viewers even believe it, resulting in Pretty Fly for a White Guy. Buffy Speak is a common way of avoiding this for those who do care. Another way to avoid the problem is to do it intentionally badly.
Don't forget, you copacetic hepcats, that if a show is trying to be set in a period older than the 80s, the same rules apply.
Shows on the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network are known for doing this, despite most of them centering around tweens and teenagers. This is usually entwined with the overuse of far-past-neutered euphemisms, like "crud". Badbutt characters often speak this way.
A rich, deep well of Narm, especially when it's a Long Runner's obvious ploy to stay Relevant, Dammit. A lot of these examples also veer into So Bad, It's Good territory. A character like this may also be The Nicknamer. This character also tends to believe that Like Is, Like, a Comma.
See also Younger and Hipper, Jive Turkey, Buffy Speak, Surfer Dude, Valley Girl, L33t L1ng0, Xtreme Kool Letterz; this is also a common trait of the Mascot with Attitude and the Hippie Teacher. Often, this overlaps with Nostalgia Filter, as works that use this trope typically give very idealized depictions of childhood. Speaking Like Totally Teen is a common In-Universe mockery of this.
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- Live-Action TV
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- Real Life
- The characters of the D.Gray-Man fanfiction Any Way You Want It use eighties slang heavily in their dialogue, thanks to the authors' love of the decade.
Author's Note: If you didn't catch it from the summary, it takes place in 1985, which means we will be raping the 80s terms dictionary we found.
- In the Portal 2 fanfic Blue Sky, anytime Wheatley tries to use slang, it comes across as this.
- Mon Colle Knights guest character Mondo Ooya speaks this way in the Lucky Star fanfic Starbound, even going as far as to strike poses and gestures. This becomes particularly noticeable when the mains bring him and Rokuna to Minami's house, and is something Kagami calls him out on twice. Case in point, here's how he's shown to have introduced Miyuki to his own family, in stark contrast to her having just introduced him and Rokuna to Minami:
"Man, you won't believe how many hot-babes I got to chill with! Here's one of 'em right here!"
- National Geographic Kids was a particularly egregious example, seeing as it was written for kids by people with an apparently very dim view of children's capacity for learning. Aside from the fact that the magazine was almost entirely composed of either advertisements or advertisements masquerading as articles, the writers decided it was necessary to appeal to children using outdated (not to mention ludicrous in any time period) slang. A particularly pertinent example occurred in their "review" (read: advertisement) of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when discussing the costume changes from the last two films: "Harry and the gang now dress in hip street clothes instead of their stuffy Hogwarts uniforms."
- Some magazines will run articles explaining "teen speak" to parents. For example, Dutch magazine Elsevier once ran an article explaining obscure slang terms. Even more ridiculous was the article then positing that children would use this language at the dinner table, with parents being powerless to understand it or to stop their children from using it.
- Disney Adventures used to have a monthly feature demonstrating five slang terms every month, for about the first six or so years of publication. It was discontinued after 1996 or so, probably when the publication's editors realized that it dated very quickly.
- A 2011 issue of National Geographic (which tends to be aimed at ages 18 and up) introduced a story about the "teenage brain" with "Like, totally!" Teenagers haven't seriously used that expression for about two decades now.
- The band Leetstreet Boys seems to be purposefully invoking this trope in their songs, most notably in the song "Yuri The One For Me". The band members can't possibly be younger than mid twenties, and the lyrics include such lines as:
"Like a Pokémon I Pikachu.""You and I make Nintendo Wii /Will together be WoW Level 70."
- A Washington Post review of Katy Perry's album Teenage Dreams and its song "Last Friday Night" says: But concerned parents of young Katy Perry fans, don't fret — this woman might have more in common with you than with your kids. When it's time for Perry to reflect on her 3 a.m. follies, she stiffly sings "That was such an epic fail". It sounds like a clueless parent's attempt to speak teenager. (Be that as it may, the song was her fifth number-one hit from the album, the first time a female musician has pulled that off.)
- In earlier version of Jesus Christ Superstar, Caiaphas delivers the dated line "One thing I'll say for him, Jesus is cool." In later editions, this line is changed to "Infantile sermons; the multitudes drool".
- The press release for Meghan Trainor's EP The Love Train gained immediate notoriety for, among other things, its clueless use of slang like "bae", "wig snatch", and (in all-caps) "QUEEN", going viral online for slamming head-first into this trope. The author of the press release, a writer for The Late Late Show named Caroline Goldfarb, admitted that she did it purely to get that reaction, saying that the joke was on all the people cringing at it because she got paid to write it — while noting that she originally came up with even worse lines that she cut from the finished product.
- In 1995, CompuServe released "Internet In A Box For Kids." It was basically the grown-up version of "Internet In A Box," except with a videotape on proper internet usage along with an internet monitoring software program for parents to block sites they deemed inappropriate for their children. While the included video mostly averted this (probably because it featured actual children explaining how to properly use the internet), the box art was filled to the brim with Totally Radical imagery and lingo... such as a kid screaming "Totally Internet!!!"
- The subreddit r/FellowKids collects various advertisements of this nature, usually involving forced references to memes and internet lingo.
- For Better or for Worse creator Lynn Johnston, in an effort not to sound dated ten seconds later, made up her own teenage slang phrases, which, since they were still being coined by a middle-aged woman, tended to sound pretty awkward anyway. Notable examples include "going/gone roadside" (i.e., putting out); also, "foob" (a portmanteau of "fool" and "boob"), close enough to the strip's actual acronym that snarkers now routinely call the strip Foob. This really shone through because, well, it was a newspaper comic, which are not known for giving their readers the benefit of the doubt in intelligence... between that and just not having much space, Johnston would thus have to explain what her made-up slang meant... with slang or euphemisms that were Totally Radical.
- In Zits, Jeremy had to teach his dad not to say "What's up, dood?" Unfortunately, though he could pronounce "Whatup, dude?" (relatively in use at time of publishing), he had no idea what it meant. Parodied in one strip where Jeremy tries to get a slang word of his own invention to catch on: "Plasmic". It works about as well as you'd expect.
- Calvin and Hobbes both averted and parodied this trope in a strip wherein Calvin made up his own slang, just to prove to his father that it was possible. ("Don't you think that's totally spam? It's lubricated! Well, I'm phasing.")
- In Capcom's Breakshot, the moose yells "Bodacious!" if you score a jackpot during Ball-O-Rama.
- Bally's Dr. Dude is totally loaded with Totally Radical surfer slang throughout the game.
- Radical! is a pinball machine about skating whose playfield resembles a skate park and whose artwork embodied '80s skater culture at its thickest.
- Whether this counts as an aversion, an inversion, or a Deconstruction is open to debate, but World Wrestling Entertainment consciously avoids using its own insider lingo on the actual programming, even though that jargon is widely recognized and employed by the wrestlers themselves. This means practically zero use of the old "carny talk" terms such as "face" and "heel", or even newer terms such as "blade." (Occasionally a performer will break Kayfabe and actually use one of the terms, but this practice is not encouraged.) On the other hand, this trope was crossbred with Bilingual Bonus on an episode of Monday Night Raw which had Alberto Del Rio introduce Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Christian Cage, and Wade Barrett as rudos (Mexican wrestling slang for "villains"). On the other hand, WWE has its own phrases in substitution of actual sporting terminology that for better or worse has slowly been seeping into other wrestling organization since the 1980s. "Sports Entertainment" instead of pro wrestling, "Superstar" instead of pro wrestler, "Championship" instead of title belt, and that's just a sample of examples you'll hear during the shows themselves.
- WCW dipped into this when they tried to market themselves to the urban/hip hop market. They hired Master P, widely considered at the time to be Rap's equivalent of Hanson, and made an entire stable with a rap themed gimmick called the No Limit Soldiers. The worst part, though, was DJ Ran, who periodically interrupted the wrestling show to ask the fans where the rowdiest section was at.
- Wrestling Society X, MTV's short lived attempt at producing a wrestling show. We're talking about musical guests playing at the start of every episode, plenty of explosions and "awesome" sound effects, not to mention the wrestling being about as flashy as possible.
- TNA went through a period where they were intentionally inverting WWE's example above: they constantly threw out insider lingo, openly referred to "the script", talked about "turning" and "swerves", etc. etc. This was in the middle of their "Wrestling is real" kick, and was a pretty blatant attempt to snag the Internet Wrestling Community that the WWE seemed to take every opportunity to piss off... Except it was so blatant and self-contradicting (how can something be "real" one break while someone gets chastised for "going off-script" the next?) that it backfired spectacularly and got the IWC to basically make fun of them even worse than they were before. Fortunately, it didn't last long and has all but vanished.
- Hulk Hogan is known for throwing around slang like "brother", "dude", and "jack". He still does it, even though he's well into his sixties and long-retired.
- Dana Brooke subverts this - she sometimes uses 'trendy' expressions like "totes", "jelly" and "cray-cray," but she's supposed to be an obnoxious millennial rather than cool.
- The Reduced Shakespeare Company Radio Show:
Reed: I told you, Adam, Antony and Cleopatra has nothing to do with rap!
Adam: Oh yeah? Well, where does Cleopatra come from?
Adam: And what continent is Egypt on?
Adam: Africa... African-Americans... rap! Boom! Hit it!
There was a red-hot mama and her name was Cleo
A babe born in Egypt but she moved to Italy-o
She hooked up with a dude who was built like a tree
Her old man's name was Mark An-an-an-an-an-an-an-an-
- The published script to their stage show includes a tongue-in-cheek footnote remarking that they are only too aware that rap as a signifier of youth and coolness was hopelessly cliched even back when the "Othello Rap" was originally added in 1987, but they keep it in because it's consistently one of the most popular parts of the show with audiences.
- Matt Smith (no, not that one), original presenter of Radio 4's children's show Go4It in 2001, was more than a little prone to this and extensively parodied on the radio version of Dead Ringers. His successor Barney Harwood (who would later go on to present Blue Peter) was rather more restrained.
- National Cynical Network's "Chap in the Hood", with a crisply accented Briton interjecting urban slang into his monologue, joined in the finale by a Cockney rival doing the same.
- An episode of the CBC comedy news show This Is That had a teacher who switched to talking in this sort of forced slang in class. It worked.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventure Cuddlesome, the Mark II Cuddlesomes talk in 1980s slang that sounds like a cross between the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bart Simpson.
- In The Secondary Phase of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Zaphod suddenly begins talking in a garbled parody of 1970s slang, executed by mixing up contemporary slang words with invented 'hitch-hiker slang' and lots of Pardon My Klingon. It's supposed to make him sound like a bit of a dick, though.
- Parodied in a fake ad by The Vestibules, in which a company desperately tries to target a new customer demographic:
Teenager: (With rock music playing in the background) Yeah, Kentworth-Haynes Olde English Tea Biscuits are cool, and radical, and they're not things that old people eat! ... I like to eat 'em when I'm doing extreme sports, dude! And by the way I should know, because I'm wearing large pants that are fashionable now.
Announcer: Made according to a traditional cool time-honored English recipe that combined the radical stone-milled flour with an extreme light country fresh taste, Kentworth-Haynes Olde English Tea Biscuits are guaranteed fresh - and they are cool!
- Paranoia: Played for laughs with the Death Leopard secret society, who are among the few in any universe who would actually say "Totally radical, dude!" and mean every word of it. (In Zap games, talking like a dodgy take on a 1980s surfer dude is all but expected).
- An unfortunate moment in Mutants & Masterminds: Hero High had Lucien Soulban jump into this, by recommending renaming a number of skills "Yo, dis da shizzle, boy!"
- Feng Shui occasionally dipped into this trope. For instance, the back cover copy of the Guiding Hand sourcebook Blood of the Valiant exhorts the reader to "check out this tome, G."
- In Flower Drum Song, Wang San annoys his parents with his use of slang, for instance by trying to explain to his father that Helen has "got a yen for" his older brother:
Wang: A yen?
San: That's when someone sends you—and Ta sends her.
Wang: What language are you speaking?
San: That's bop, Pop!
- Originally, "The Rap" from Starlight Express was entirely plot-relevant, though it was clearly a product of The '80s. In The '90s, the song was rewritten to comply with the musical's newly changed plot, but sounded even more dated than before ("Nah, diesel's wicked! That diesel's sweet!"). Its final incarnation for the twenty-first century, complete with "Hip Hoppers" replacing the previous trio of boxcars, was, in fact, totally 'radical', to the extent that not a single lyric remained from the first version of the song. This version must be seen to be believed. Needless to say, a Camp Bisexual electric engine rapping "I've got the pull! I'm takin' you to school!" is hilarious enough even without the choral assertion that racing is "the fastest, the dopest, the meanest, the quickest, the raddest, the baddest."
- All four characters in [title of show] occasionally indulge in this, with terms like "hangry" (hungry + angry) and "fuxellent" (you can probably guess). Subverted in that while most of the slang terms used in the show were more or less made up, the fanbase actually embraced them after the fact.
- Parodied in A Very Potter Sequel, when Umbridge promises the kids that having her as a teacher is going to be "Totally awesome!"
- For the 2014 London Palladium production of Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber announced that he found the character Rum Tum Tugger to be "boring and outdated" and had decided to change him from a Mick Jagger-esque rock star to a hip-hop "street cat". Tugger was given a rap song wherein he declared himself to be the "Jelli-coolest Cat", and he also nicknamed other cats, calling Old Deuteronomy "Old D" and Mistoffelees "the Magi-coolest cat". Needless to say, this new version of the character was not well-received, and was soon phased out in favour of the original.
- In Assassins, Sara Jane Moore attempts to bond with Squeaky Fromme by using terms like "groovy" and "psychedelic". Fromme comments that she sounds like a nark.
- The My Pal 2 robot from Toy Biz fits this bill, saying phrases like "Yo, dude, what's up?" and "You da man!", albeit in a high robotic voice. Its successor, the My Pal 2000, was like this as well.