By Amy Sondova It’s all the drama, but none of the personal turmoil–it’s high school relived from freshman to senior year through the lives of 12 girls from Northwest High School in Overland Park, KS. It’s called “High School: Confidential” and the show is a new 8-part documentary airing Monday nights at 10 PM on the WE Network. The girls were filmed from 2002-2006.
Jessi is an outgoing girl raised by her single mother, Bobbi. Quite dramatic, Jessi often speaks about the popular kids and seems to have a low self-image, which she struggles with throughout the episode. While this is normal for teenage girls, Jessi’s image problems seem to result from the lack of adult role models in her life.
Bobbi, Jessi’s mother, divorces Jessi’s stepfather and by Jessi’s senior year meets a man online and moves to Georgia to be with him, leaving her daughter alone in Kansas. Fortunately, Bobbi, finds accommodations for her daughter leasing Jessi an apartment for three months, in which Jessi makes a love nest with her boyfriend, Matt. Ironically, Bobbi disapproves of Jessi’s actions but tells her, “You’re gonna do what you’re gonna do.” There’s some real hands-on parenting.
Of course, this was all after Jessi, an aspiring actress, went through her “wild child” phase in which she got pregnant, had a miscarriage, wound up in the psychiatric hospital, was put on meds for ADHD, and hung out at a party house with her friends (without adult supervision—surprise, surprise!) After Jessi finds out she’s pregnant (the father being a boy with green hair that Jessi met at a punk concert), she enlists the help of one of her pregnant friends and cheerfully announces, “This is going to be hard, but we’re going to do it.” Taking Flinstones vitamins as her prenatal vitamins, Jessi miscarries at six weeks and mourns her baby girl (how she knows it’s a girl at six weeks is beyond me. I’m assuming this is how she envisioned her child).
A little sadder, but undaunted, Jessi continues to pursue her thespian dreams saying, “I’ve been doing a lot better and I haven’t tired to kill myself.” She also tells the camera that she decided to up the doses on her prescription meds on her own—good gravy! It’s also around this time that Jessi meets Brian, who plans to move to L.A. with his new love if she makes it into the prestigious American Music Dramatic Academy (AMAD). She passes the admissions test, but breaks up with Brian (and enters into a relationship with the aforementioned Matt).
Deciding that she lacks social standing, she says things like, “The popular kids hate me” and “School like the Academy (the art school that Jessi transfers to sophomore year) are always looked down on by the popular people.” Almost chameleon-like, Jessi is willing to change to “fit in” with whatever crowd accepts her whether they be the druggies, the punks, the theater kids, or whoever. She also seems to jump from relationship to relationship to find a guy who loves her.
At the end of the show she says that her story is about “going through turbulent times, trying to find myself, happiness, and true love.” Finally ready go to AMAD in L.A., Jessi seems settled on starting a new life. However, at the episode’s conclusion, Jessi leaves AMAD after a panic attack and returns to Kansas where she finds employment at Walmart. It seems that Jessi is still searching for herself, for happiness, and for love, which it is desperately hoped she finds.
All photographs courtesy of WE TV.