If you’re ever looking to escape your everyday life for a little may I recommend diving into a good teen drama. What makes teen dramas such a good escape is they’re glossy, they’re full of drama (duh), they’re super angst-y, and make you nostalgic for the teenage existence you never had, nor ever will now that you’re an adult. So slam your bedroom door, and tell your parents to leave you alone- god, because I’m about to bring you my list of the 10 best teen dramas ever made.
1. Gossip Girl
“Hey, Upper East Siders, Gossip Girl here.” Sex, drugs, and privilege- oh Gossip Girl everything I want in a teen drama, and more. On Gossip Girl the Upper East Side is a treacherous place, be it the ongoing drama between best frenemies, and beautiful socialites Serena Van Der Woodsen, and Blair Waldorf. Or the never ending scheming of egotistical rich boy Chuck Bass. Even lonely boy from Brooklyn Dan Humphrey is not immune to the drama, which includes a season one love triangle with Nate Archibald, Blair’s boyfriend, and Serena. Meow. And although these teens are a part of Manhattan’s elite none of them are safe from mysterious and ruthless blogger, Gossip Girl, who is always watching and posting their scandals for all of New York City to see. Gossip Girl is great because it explores the life of fashionable, sexy, and wealthy teens who are left to their own devices in the greatest city on earth, think the Preppy Murder minus the murder. Not only that, the show makes sure to utilize NYC to its fullest, as if the city is its own character. Most notably the Met steps, which is the favorite lunch spot for the private school teens of Gossip Girl.
2. The O.C
“Welcome to the O.C bitch!” We now move from the East coast to West coast, to bring you The O.C. A teen melodrama with a mix of comedy, The O.C is about teen from the wrong side of the tracks, Ryan Atwood, who ends up being adopted by the Cohen’s. A wealthy, but idealistic family from Newport Beach, the show follows Ryan and his “dorky” step brother Seth Cohen, as they navigate being outsiders in the high-class world of Orange County, and their relationships with troubled girl-next-door Marissa Cooper, and Seth’s childhood crush, but shallow human, Summer Roberts.
Seth Cohen was my literal sexual awakening, and as hard as the show tried to paint Seth Cohen as a loser, the quick witted Seth soon became every fan girls’ Jewish dream boy. And if you didn’t have a crush on Seth, you for sure had one on his dad, resident DILF, Sandy Cohen.
3. Freaks and Geeks
How this show only got one season will be one of life’s greatest mysteries. Freaks and Geeks,
Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s fondly remembered TV show, not only was laugh out loud funny, but single handedly launched the careers of famous actors James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Busy Philipps and John Francis Daley, just to name a few! Freaks and Geeks has rightfully gained a cult following, but for one the best teen dramas in recent history, it deserved so many more seasons, and much more accolades when it was on the air. Set in the 1980s at McKinley high school the show hilariously tackles everyday issues that teens face such as acceptance, drugs/ drinking, and bullying from the point of view of the always charismatic Freaks, and the ever so nerdy Geeks. James Franco resident hottie was clearly a freak. Yum.
4. My So called Life
90s TV really needs to get their shit together, another show that was criminally underrated which was also only on the air for one season, was not only the OG show to make soft boys hot, but was one of the first shows to feature a gay character as real, as well as sympathetic. My So- Called Life which kick started the careers of well known actors Claire Danes, and Jared Leto follows the life of a 15 year old girl as she tackles the trials and tribulation of being a teenager in a very Gen X realness way.
5. Degrassi: The Next Generation
Degrassi or Canada’s best export, first aired in 1979, but the Degrassi franchise has been on TV for a record-making four decades. Out of the four series of Degrassi which include The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, and Degrassi High, although all good in their own right, Degrassi: The Next Generation is by far the best. Besides staring Aubrey Graham better known as mega music star Drake, as Jimmy Brooks, Degrassi is a teen drama that never shies away from tackling the hard issues faced by teens. Degrassi stands out for its handling of taboo issues such as gun violence, abortion, even rape in a raw, and real way.
The American remake sucked and shouldn’t even be considered in the Skins universe, but the original Skins was brilliant, and the show was to millennials, what Euphoria is to Gen Z. Skins is British teen- comedy drama that Primarily follows the lives of popular pretty boy Tony Stonem, his best friend and the total antithesis of Tony, Sid Jenkins, Tony’s girlfriend emotionally stable except for her love for Tony Michelle Richardson , and Michelle’s eccentric yet adorable friend Cassie Ainsworth, who struggles with an eating disorder and mental illness. Over the shows six seasons, its controversial story-lines explored issues such as bipolar disorder, death, and substance abuse in a way unlike any of the teen dramas before it.
Speaking of Euphoria, the super stylized provocative teen drama, that has already been the center of a few controversies, tells the story of 17-year-old drug addict Rue, and her mega hot friends as they navigate sex, social media, anxiety and a plethora of other issues all to a banging soundtrack, which includes songs from Gen Z icons Billie Eilish, Migos, Doja Cat and Lizzo. What makes Euphoria a must include on my list of best teen dramas is because Euphoria has created a language and set style trends for a generation of young people in the same vain as the popular 90’s film Clueless.
8. Veronica Mars
The show that was ahead of its time, Veronica Mars stars the always irresistible Kristen Bell as a high schooler, who solves crimes, and searches for her mom who essentially abandoned her. Despite Mar’s heavy backstory which includes the murder of her best friends as well as her own rape, the neo-noir dramaedy remains charming, while still addressing serious issues like trauma.
9. David Makes A Man
As far as teen dramas go, David Makes A Man, stands out for it’s original story that is told in such a beautiful way. From Tarell Alvin McCraney of Moonlight, comes David Makes A Man, a show about a very gifted 14 year old black boy named David, who is being raised in the projects of Florida. David is under a lot of pressure to perform well in school since his future is riding on it. This is especially difficult due to his family’s financial struggles, and the gang members in David’s neighborhood who are dead set on recruiting him. Despite all of this at the core of David Makes A man is a story of joy, friendship, and fantasy that is associated with youth. What’s so beautiful about this Peabody-winning show is David honors the community that is sacrificing for him to have a better life instead of David being determined to escape it.
10. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
“In every generation there is a chosen one… she alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the slayer.” The high school cheerleader by day, and kick ass vampire slayer by night, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, is one of my absolute favorite teen dramas. All Buffy Summers wants is to be a normal high school girl, but she can not escape her destiny. The show follows Buffy and her gang of friends, as they attend high school, fight demons, and learning growing up can be a literal Hell.
Alright I know this list was a little controversial, and could be debated till the end of time. In fact I’m screaming at myself right now for not including the original 90210, which starred my forever crush, Luke Perry, god rest his soul. Or omg! I just remembered Riverdale, how could I not have included Riverdale, what captures the teenage zeitgeist more than a jailhouse strip tease. Anyway while I ponder the scene that lives rent free in my mind, I would love to know what you little demons’ favorite teen dramas are?
writer, filmmaker, and hipster overlord