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No sex please, we’re Gen Z — young viewers want deeper, more unique relationships in film, on TV: study

Sex isn’t selling like it used to.

Nearly half of Gen Zers (47.5%) polled in a new study said that showing characters do the deed on-screen is inconsequential to the plot of most TV shows and movies — with 51.5% asking to be shown more stories of platonic friendship.

Not that they’re prudes, or anything.

“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,” study co-author Dr. Yalda T. Uhls of the University of California, Los Angeles said in a statement.

Researchers surveyed 1,500 people from ages 10 to 24 — with respondents selected to mirror race and gender percentages as reported in the 2020 Census — to determine what adolescents think of, and want, from the media they are constantly consuming.

Movie house at home with popcorn and remote control
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“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,” Uhls said.

But that doesn’t only mean a wider variety of romantic relationships. Viewers seem to want, more than anything, to see people connecting in an authentic way.

“There has been a wide-ranging discourse among young people about the meaning of community in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the isolation that came with it,” said Stephanie Rivas-Lara, first author of the study.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, l-r: Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris in 'Rally'
©CBS/Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

“Adolescents are looking to media as a ‘third place’ where they can connect and have a sense of belonging,” she said.

“Gen Z’s values and desires reach depths beyond what society has typically explored,” the authors wrote.