WE’s High School Confidential debuts tonight

The WE’s High School Confidential, which debuts tonight at 9 p.m. ET. and airs for six weeks, could be considered a reality series, but it’s more like a six-part documentary considering that it was filmed over four years at Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kan.

As its title suggests, each episode follows between one and three high school girls for four years “through their tumultuous and exhilarating high school experience. They encounter sex, drugs, unwanted pregnancy, health crisis, and family chaos — all while trying to discover who they are,” according to the network. They include an “anorexic wrist cutter,” a girl with a brain tumor, a girl who is “raising herself,” someone with “suicidal thoughts,” a girl “coping with parent’s death,” and a “party girl.”

Filmmaker Sharon Liese says what she filmed was surprising. “I kind of expected a pregnancy; I certainly didn’t expect three. I expected they’d experiment with alcohol and drugs, but I didn’t expect the intensity of it. And one decided to get married. To me, that was more shocking than pregnancy,” she told USA TODAY.

The paper says she had 500 hours of material, some of which was shot by the show’s subjects, as “at edgier events, such as parties, [Liese] gave the girls video cameras to shoot footage.” Interestingly, “MTV eventually bid for” the show, but lost to WE, The New York Times reports.

High School Confidential [WE]
‘High School’ goes confidential [USA TODAY]
This Is Your Teenager on Camera [New York Times]
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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.