There is nothing quite like the teen television drama, and it would seem that networks have been paying special attention to this genre again in recent years. Teen drama reached its zenith 20 years ago with Buffy, Sabrina, Degrassi and so many other shows that satisfied our desire for nicely packaged morals and coming-of-age angst.
But for those of you who want to return to that '90s nostalgia without having to binge Saved by the Bell reruns, there are plenty of current shows that will remind you of all of those Dawson's Creek posters you had in 10th grade. The plots are more current but the stories are just as timeless.
Here are five of the best TV shows around right now. Some are already well known but a few up-and-comers might surprise you.
13 Reasons Why (Netflix)
Two weeks after Hannah tragically decides to take her own life, her classmate Clay finds a box full of tape recordings that Hannah made before she died. On them are the 13 reasons why she chose to commit suicide, and they narrate a tale of teen torment almost too terrible to watch. An added nuance: the story is told through two narratives — both Clay and Hannah. This is definitely a binge-worthy show — get ready to watch 'em all at once.
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, Netflix)
Based on the novels of Sara Shepard, this very popular show ran from 2010-2017 and was hyper-dramatic right up until the finale. The story follows the lives of Spencer, Hannah, Emily and Aria, a group of girls whose clique has fallen apart since their leader Alison went missing. The girls are brought back together when they start receiving text messages from a mysterious "A" who knows a lot of secrets. Though the show is over now, it would still be worth re-watching, simply for its up-to-date take on the "teen drama" category.
My Mad Fat Diary (OUTtv)
Set in 1996 England, My Mad Fat Diary tells the story of Rae, a teenage girl who spends four months in a psychiatric hospital after attempting suicide. She leaves the hospital and gets back together with her group, though they are unaware of her recent stay in the hospital. This show captures some of the biggest issues of our time, including mental health and body image issues. Sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, this show covers the full spectrum of teenage drama.
Degrassi: Next Class (Netflix, Family Channel)
Fifth in the Degrassi franchise, the Next Class follows the lives of the students from Degrassi Community School, a fictional high school in Toronto. Just like the original, it covers many issues that affect us all, but seem magnified in a high school setting: homophobia, drugs, racism, diseases, online harassment, to name a few. This is real-world high-school drama at its finest.
Teen Angst (OUTtv)
Though not exactly a "teen drama," Teen Angst from OUTtv is still worth checking out. This comedy special features everyday people as they read from their embarrassing teenage journals, essays, poems, and songs. The intensity of the teen experience is going to make you laugh, cry and cringe. If you're a fan of the stand-up genre, or perhaps CBC Radio's "Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids," then you will definitely enjoy this show.
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