Tegan and Sara—the teenage years
Abbie Riglin, Photo Editor
Calgary’s own musical duo Tegan and Sara are here with a new television show based on their autobiography called High School. It follows the two before they garnered fame as an indie-pop group. Giving viewers a glimpse of their adolescence in mid-90s Calgary, High School goes further into storytelling by flipping between characters’ points of view including Tegan, Sara, their overworked mother Simone, love interest Phoebe, new friend Maya and their stepfather Patrick. This allows an in-depth view of the characters and answers for where their struggles stem from and where they all fit together.
Played by TikTok creators Railey and Seazynn Gilliland, High School reminds us that it’s easy to get caught up in teen television dramas, but unlike most (I’m talking to you Riverdale) it nails what high school is actually like. It shows that teens aren’t all the same and that growing up is just as confusing as it seems, especially when you add in the exploration of sexuality.
Tegan and Sara are complete opposites, with the former playing on the safe side of the rules and the latter being a risk taker. Months before they find their musical talent, Sara begins pulling away from her twin in favour of hanging out with their best friend Phoebe, leaving Tegan behind. Unbeknownst to Tegan, Sara and Phoebe have begun exploring a romantic relationship, a well-kept secret until Phoebe’s mother notices that they are more than friends, forcing Phoebe to stop seeing Sara. Their relationship marks the first glance of the twins developing queer identities, something that separates the twins as they come into their own.
Upset that Sara is pulling away, Tegan starts at their new school without her sister’s friendship and meets Maya after she stands up against a bully for Tegan, leading to her first friendship apart from her sister. Tegan’s story is surrounded by being forced to distance herself from her twin, all while trying to protect her. Viewers can see her trying to come into her queerness, but it often gets interrupted by a lack of understanding from Tegan herself, proving that teens have big feelings too, just no words.
It isn’t until Tegan and Sara are grounded for sneaking out to a rave that the two come together once again because of a common interest and a newfound talent, music. Something that isn’t touched on until halfway through the season, a necessary evil to show just how it brought the two together after they fell apart.
High School is a beautifully crafted story exploring queerness, music and growing up, all with the realistic obstacles of life while humanizing parents, friends, siblings and heroes. You don’t have to be familiar with Tegan and Sara to love High School. A heartfelt depiction of adolescence, queer relationships, and sisterhood all while finding yourself might just be enough.