According to a new study from UCLA, Gen Z wants to see less sex in movies and TV and more platonic friendships.
If you’re active on social media, you’re likely aware of a push against sex scenes in movies and television from Gen Z; well, now there’s some research to back it up. In a study released by UCLA, American audiences between the ages of 10 and 24 (classified as Gen Z) appear to want to see less sex on screen and more platonic friendships instead.
The Teens and Screens study was conducted by the Center for Scholars & Storytellers in August and surveyed 1,500 adolescents. Those aged 10-12 were not asked any questions about sex and romance, and the questions posed to those aged 13-15 used simpler language and more definitions to guide them better in their responses. So, on to the results.
51% of those surveyed expressed a desire for “more content centered around friendships and platonic relationships,” with 47.5% stating that sex “isn’t needed for the plot of most TV shows and movies.” 44.3% said that romance is overused in media and 39% wanted to see more aromantic and/or asexual characters on screen. “Gen Z’s values and desires reach depths beyond what society has typically explored,” reads the report. “As demonstrated in this report, they’ve grown tired of stereotypical, heteronormative storytelling that valorizes romantic and/or sexual relationships – especially ones that are toxic – and are looking for more representations of friendship, which is a core aspect of adolescence and social well-being.“
Although I have seen some downright puritanical takes from Gen Z when it comes to sex on screen, I do agree that seeing different types of relationships, particularly friendships, is extremely valuable. We’ve witnessed decades of “will they, won’t they” relationships play out on screen with all the unresolved sexual tension that comes with it; I’m not saying anything is wrong with that, but developing characters who love one another and support one another without the expectation of sex is just as relevant, which is precisely what this study shows.
In a press release explaining the findings of the study, the founder of CSS and co-author Dr. Yalda T. Uhls commented: “While it’s true that adolescents want less sex on TV and in movies, what the survey is really saying is that they want more and different kinds of relationships reflected in the media they watch. We know that young people are suffering an epidemic of loneliness and they’re seeking modeling in the art they consume. While some storytellers use sex and romance as a shortcut to character connection, it’s important for Hollywood to recognize that adolescents want stories that reflect the full spectrum of relationships.“
Whether you’re Gen Z or not, would you like to see less sex in movies and television?