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The Top Six TV Teen Dramas

Posted on the 06 June 2013 by Kittyfairy @KittyFairy

As someone who is about to hit 30, I can't helping feeling like I'm part of the first generation that has truly grown up with teen dramas. I can remember teen dramas right from being a young kid, and the ones that I have grown up with have been quite diverse. I've loved British stuff, as well as Australian and of course American.
It's been nice piecing this together, because when I first started, I was expecting the entire list to be dominated by American dramas, and yes, half of the list has derived from the States, but it's good to see that the other half hasn't.

Six. Wonder Years

Top Six: TV Teen Dramas
For me, The Wonder Years is the ultimate kids TV show of my growing up. It's one of those shows that I can remember watching when I was very young, and I feel like I have grown up with it. Well, repeats of it anyway.
I was five years old when this show started, and nine when it finished, so it's fair to say that I probably didn't appreciate it first time around as much as I have watching it now that I'm older, but I certainly remember watching it.
I'm not going to deny that I always love seeing both Fred Savage and Danica McKellar popping up in various things, because it's nice to see how they've grown. With Fred in Austin Powers, and Danica in The Big Bang Theory for example.
Kevin, Winnie and Paul definitely made growing up seem so much more interesting, didn't they?
Favourite Story line: To be honest, I don't remember any story lines that well, other than Kevin's obsession with Winnie. But then, surely that was the most important one anyone, right?

Five. Heartbreak High

Top Six: TV Teen Dramas
Growing up, I was never a fan of Grange Hill. I don't know if it was because everything that happened reminded me about how much I hated school, but I just didn't like it.
For me, Heartbreak High was the ideal replacement, because the Australian world just seemed completely alien to the world that I was growing up in. I loved how it was quite gritty too, certainly more gritty - in my opinion - than Neighbours, which I have always found to be quite "nice", rather than gritty, and growing up I didn't really watch Home and Away.
I love looking back at this show, because it is so grunge nineties, and I love it.
Favourite Story line: Not really a favourite, but one that I remember quite well is when Drazic (I think) graduated from School, and took part in a TV show to highlight the difficulties in finding a job. Unfortunately, he screwed things up when his new employer asked him to remove his piercings, and - on television - Drazic refused to do it, which of course raised a lot of issues in the media. For me, this issue is probably still relevant today.

Four. Byker Grove

Top Six: TV Teen Dramas
If Heartbreak High was the school drama equivalent of Grange Hill, then  Byker Grove was the British drama aimed at kids that I loved. Similar to Heartbreak High, perhaps, Byker Grove touched on a lot of serious - and often controversial - topics.
I think I was probably always grateful to watch stuff like this, and think "Wow, I'm glad my life isn't like that".  But then, I also think that it was also easy to watch and kind of be jealous, because it was just worlds apart from my own life - looking back, in good and bad ways.
Like Grange Hill, Byker Grove launched the careers of so many young talents, including (of course) Ant and Dec, Donna Air and Jill Halfpenny.
Favourite Story line: When PJ's two girlfriends decided to get their revenge on him during a paint balling session, except they hadn't expected him to take his mask off.
Again, not necessarily a favourite, but definitely one that has stuck with me right through to this day. The fact that PJ was played by Ant (of Ant and Dec) probably plays strongly on why I remember this story line so well!

Three. Skins

Top Six: TV Teen Dramas
I wasn't really a teen when I first started watching Skins, and I in no way relate to it at all, but as a teen drama, I don't think anything really compares to it. The lure of Skins is the fact that it could cover topics that the majority of other teen dramas couldn't, purely because of its late screening time. Its post-watershed timing allowed it to talk sex and drugs in a more grown up way, and it wasn't as patronising as I think that some teenage dramas can be.
Right from the off, Skins had some truly memorable characters who weren't perfect, had their faults and had real problems and issues. The show has probably upset a large number of parents, but in reality, most kids probably won't ever have the kind of life depicted in Skins.
Favourite Story line: The unexpected romance between third generation Mini and Alo was incredibly sweet. It was great really to see the complete transformation of Mini from the Queen Bee super bitch of the very first episode in Season five, to the mature mother-to-be in the final episodes of the sixth season, and her budding relationship with Alo just seemed like the perfect growing level for her. It was also nice to see Alo settle down with someone so unexpected.

Two. My So-Called Life

Top Six: TV Teen Dramas
I remember watching My So-Called Life when it was first on television, and not really "getting" it. I found Angela Chase (played by Clare Danes) incredibly annoying, and even though I did watch it right to it's last episode, I don't think that I was old enough to really appreciate it. I enjoyed watching it, of course.
A few years back, I bought the one series that was ever made, on DVD, and found that with my own maturity, I was able to appreciate it completely. Without meaning to tar all American drama with the same brush, but I know I'm going to, they are typically quite "nice", and even the darker story lines tend to be glossed over by the Hollywood airbrush. Well, they do when it comes to teen drama. But, My So-Called Life tackled some pretty dark stuff, and Angela was more of what I would call a "typical" teenager that you just don't see enough in American dramas. She was moody, she had attitude and she was easy to relate to.
It is a huge shame that the series only got one season before - I assume - being cancelled, and it had one of the most annoying endings, because it didn't really end, and that is never easy to watch.
Favourite Story line: It's hard not to just write "anything to do with Jared Leto's character", but in truth, my favorite story line revolved around Angela's friend Rickie, who was such a unique and strong character. The season finale saw Rickie (played by Wilson Cruz) being made homeless, and I have always wanted to know what happened to him, was he okay? The answer to that, I'll never know.

One. The OC

Top Six: TV Teen Dramas
On the surface, it seems so wrong to place The OC before My So-Called Life, when The OC is everything that older me is starting to dislike about American teen dramas. It's glossy, clean and full of pretty people, living in pretty towns, in pretty houses, with pretty swimming pools etc etc. But, I've always felt like The OC kind of dug up and revealed the underbelly of the lives of the wealthy in Orange County, in a similar way to the more recent drama Revenge.
From the outset, the draw of The OC was both Ryan (Benjamin Mackenzie) and Marissa (Mischa Barton), but both for very different reasons.
With Ryan, it was all about him being an absolute outsider, and I liked that because he kind of made it feel like we - the audience - were looking in on this weirdly alien world, through his eyes. Okay, so he wasn't really that much of a bad boy - not really - but he was never going to be, why? Because he's the main character, and he needed to be likeable.
Marissa was such a great character, because I found it interesting to see how much the actions of her parents  - her father's fraud, her mother's greed and their eventual divorce - really effected Marissa. Of course it's easy to see Marissa as a rich bitch, but I always felt like there was a lot more to her, in terms of real depth.
Although Ryan and Marissa's romance often took center stage, I always preferred the one between Seth and Summer and whilst at the time I may have thought that Seth was the reason for that, I actually think that it was more down to Rachel Bilson's portrayal as Summer. Summer was - at times - quite hideous, in the same vein as Naomi from 90210, since she was selfish, spoilt and had an air of self-importance, but Summer also showed this great amount of vulnerability. It was that vulnerability that made her such a strong character, especially when she finally admitted her feelings to Seth.
In the final season, the series did begin to fade a little and I do think that it came to a natural end, but I wonder if they could have ended things a bit better. Then again, it ended in the way most dramas do - happily!

A controversial Top Six, I'm sure, but I'd love to hear your opinion. 

What is your all time favorite teen drama?


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