The Juvenile Delinquent: Another Type of Outcast

Twisted 2As an author who identifies with outcasts and outsiders, it was no surprise that I was drawn to the ABC Family series Twisted.

Twisted is a one-hour mystery full of twists and turns that follows Danny Desai, a charming 16-year-old with a troubled past who returns to his hometown after spending five years in juvenile detention. Immediately branded an outcast, Danny attempts to reconnect with his two childhood best friends, Jo and Lacey. But when a fellow student is found dead in her home, Danny instantly becomes the prime suspect and town spirals into a frenzy of suspicion and mystery. Jo and Lacey must decide if their childhood friend is unforgivable, or if he’s really a victim being persecuted for his own dark secrets.

I remember so clearly how I stumbled upon this series. I was bored; my favorite shows Arrow, The Originals, Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries were off for a two-week break. So I scrolled through Netflix but nothing appealed to me—until I stopped on Twisted, a high school drama. Yes, most would consider that odd considering I have a 22-year old daughter and even she has graduated away from teen TV. But the story blurb caught my eye, especially the “immediately branded an outcast part.” My whole life has been a secure identification with the “outsider.” And it only added to my interest that the lead role was played by Avan Jogia, who—like my daughter—has an Indian father (which gives him that killer dark look). So I clicked on the play button and two episodes later, was completely hooked.

As an author of young adult literature, I totally get why I liked this series. Its writers do what all of us are taught to do but sometimes fail to accomplish. They keep the audience engaged, hungry for more, and totally sympathetic toward the lead character. What I did not expect was that as a person who supposedly sympathizes with the outsider, I had not considered the juvenile delinquent. The creative team behind the series has done a fantastic job in increasing awareness of this often neglected element of society.

Everybody who has ever made it through high school knows about the bad boy, the dark dude who sits in the back of the classroom and simultaneously frightens and intrigues people around him. But beyond the mystique, how many understand the pain of non-acceptance that this “bad boy” goes through every day? Danny Desai, the lead character played by Avan Jogia, brings that pain to the surface as we follow him through his transition post “juvie” and see his life behind closed doors. ABC Family has done a great service to this underserved, misunderstood minority. Maybe it will help us all be more understanding—and compassionate—of those unfortunate young people who have been hit with a pretty bum rap in life.

 

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