Good Bad Teenage TV
November 14, 2012 2:03 PM   Subscribe

What teen/20s drama love triangle show can I watch after my recent Dawson's Creek bender?

I often have weeks off work at a time and like to marathon TV shows. Most recently, I decided to watch some of the shows that I wasn't into back in the 90s/00s—shows I used to make fun of my sister for watching. Earlier this summer I watched Felicity and I just finished all 6 seasons of Dawson's Creek... in two weeks. I loved it. What other shows are out there that I haven't seen before? I'm ideally looking for hour-long teen-ish soaps with love triangles and angst.

I spent my college years watching X-Files and La Femme Nikita, and sci-fi is probably still my main thing so I'm really excited to watch Fringe next (Joshua Jackson is a nice bonus). My fandoms have always leaned sci-fi (Smallville, Merlin) despite religiously watching The CW in my 20s.

Below is a list of teen shows I've already seen (maybe I've seen them all?). I'm open to re-watching them, but I love that I wasn't spoiled for who Joey would end up with at the end of the series. I've stayed away from a lot of the more recent CW series (Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl) after watching the first seasons because I hate how they act like they're 35 when they're supposed to be in high school.

Dawson's Creek
Gilmore Girls
My So-Called Life
The O.C.
One Tree Hill (The first season or two)
Popular (I lost interest after season 1)
Ugly Betty
Veronica Mars
posted by Bunglegirl to Media & Arts (58 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
No Beverly Hills, 90210? (the original series)
posted by Tanizaki at 2:07 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

I caught a bunch of episodes of Vampire Diaries when my girlfriend was burning through the series, and I can recommend it in this specific situation.
posted by griphus at 2:08 PM on November 14, 2012

Wow it is really late in the workday and I totally missed that you mentioned it. But, I have to say, it didn't feel like they were acting like they were all acting like they were 35. The rest were acting the 25-or-so actors usually act like in teen dramas.

Also, basically everyone I know is watching Teen Wolf right now.
posted by griphus at 2:09 PM on November 14, 2012

It's early 90s, and only the first season is on DVD, but what about Life Goes On?
posted by jabes at 2:10 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've recently gotten into Switched at Birth. It's more of a family show but many of the characters are teens. Love triangles a-plenty. And in one episode two teens have a heartfelt conversation on a dock!

Degrassi: The Next Generation could keep you occupied well into the summer.
posted by chaiminda at 2:12 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Pretty Little Liars.
posted by Diskeater at 2:14 PM on November 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

posted by carsonb at 2:15 PM on November 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh, and The Nine Lives of Chloe King starts off decently but gets shitty very, very quickly.
posted by griphus at 2:16 PM on November 14, 2012

Best answer: Swans Crossing.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:16 PM on November 14, 2012

I heartily recommend Friday Night Lights - mucho angst, a few love triangles and a fantastic example of the genre IMHO.
posted by *becca* at 2:16 PM on November 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Roswell? That show seems conspicuously absent, though I'd forgive you for having forgotten it.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:17 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Freaks and Geeks doesn't exactly fit your criteria - - like Friday Night Lights, it's actually, without a doubt, a GOOD good TV with teenagers, no doubt (and I say that as a viewer of many of the "bad" examples on your list). But it's the first thing that came to mind.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:20 PM on November 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Dance Academy. It's Australian but available on Netflix. A few months ago I watched every available episode in a 3-day bender.
posted by something something at 2:20 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Secret Life of the American Teenager
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:21 PM on November 14, 2012

Seconding Pretty Little Liars. Oh god, is that show addictive!
posted by lunasol at 2:22 PM on November 14, 2012

Roswell, to follow on a similar WB/CW theme
posted by Rinoia at 2:23 PM on November 14, 2012

Response by poster: I knew I forgot some shows from my list!

90210 (original series)
Freaks and Geeks
Friday Night Lights (awesome show)
Melrose Place (until it got all super weird after a few seasons)
Opposite Sex (little Alison Mack and Milo Ventimiglia!)
Roswell (watched it when it was on and loved it)
Secret Life... (watched the 1st season, HATED the religious stuff—does it get better?)
Jake 2.0
Wonder Years

I've heard some of the Teen Wolf squee, although I'm not sure I can take watching anything week-to-week right now. Same goes for on-air series like Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries, I'll probably get to them when they're off the air and I can watch all at once.

Life Goes On rings a bell, I'm sure I saw some of it. I'm not sure it has enough eye candy to qualify—I did say I was a religious WB-watcher, afterall.
posted by Bunglegirl at 2:27 PM on November 14, 2012

Best answer: It's only a half-hour per episode, but I stupidly, stupidly love Instant Star -- a Canadian comedy/drama about a teenage rock chick who wins an American Idol (Canadian Idol?)-like competition and has to deal with record label drama and former boy band members. It's ridiculous and great.

Sadly, only the first two seasons (out of four) are on Netflix so it won't last you too long.

If you don't mind reading subtitles, there is a wealth of Korean dramas on Netflix and they definitely fulfill the "good bad tv" quality you're looking for.
posted by darksong at 2:28 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Seconding Degrassi. The original Degrassi is great, corny, and fun. The new one vacillates wildly in quality (though the last two seasons or so have been terrific).

I'd also suggest Jack and Bobby, which was a one-season wonder that's available on Netflix. It includes many very talented actors who later went on to be on Madmen and some really nice writing (plus Bradley Cooper in his underwear in an ep! reason alone to watch it).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:34 PM on November 14, 2012

Skins? I consume the UK show in giant marathons (I think on Netflix, but maybe it was Hulu?); I'm not sure what the US version is like.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:35 PM on November 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You could try Square Pegs for some 1980s, young Sarah Jessica Parker cheesiness. It's a half-hour comedy though.

Awkward is a currently airing show on MTV which has plenty of angst, but is also really funny and smart.

I also enjoyed the short run of Life As We Know It from the same producers as Freaks and Geeks.

Oh, and Skins for the British take on teen drama (the first two seasons at least).
posted by wsquared at 2:36 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Vampire Diaries. It's The OC meets Supernatural. Seriously, give it a shot. I was skeptical when my wife fell under its spell, but it's now the only appointment viewing show in our house.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:38 PM on November 14, 2012

Best answer: I think you would really enjoy thirtysomething. It FEELS like a teen drama, mostly because most teen dramas are full of teens acting like grown-ups. Plus it's now a period piece, which is kind of fun. Addictive. And young Ken Olin is REALLY HOT. The best work from the people behind My So-Called Life.

OH! Also, Party of Five. If you like teen angst and the WB, you will like Party of Five.

DO NOT watch the rest of Secret Life.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 2:38 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by elizardbits at 2:40 PM on November 14, 2012

Seconding Dance Academy. My wife, who has solid taste in TV shows, is completely addicted to it and has used up huge swaths of weekend watching it.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 2:41 PM on November 14, 2012

On the quirkier end, you should try "Wonderfalls," cancelled after a 13-episode season. It's not quite the teen angst you're looking for here, but it's apparent to me that you would probably enjoy it for its short run. I think Hulu has some?
posted by Sunburnt at 2:48 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: How could I forget Wonderfalls? I own Wonderfalls on DVD. Add that to the list, along with Pushing Daisies, although that's even more of a stretch. Party of Five is a good call—I know I've watched at least some of it back in the day but don't remember much. I've never seen Thirty Something, so that's exciting. I also have never seen Sex and the City, but I don't think that can go into this category.

I like the non-US recommendations! I've seen a handful of the first series of UK Skins and forgot I need to give that another go.
posted by Bunglegirl at 2:49 PM on November 14, 2012

Best answer: agree with darksong about some Korean shows - especially City Hunter. Talk about binge-watching.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:55 PM on November 14, 2012

The new 90210, maybe not the later seasons but the first year or two is pretty teen drama crazy.
posted by hooray at 2:57 PM on November 14, 2012

Best answer: i wonder if you would like Being Erica? This is a Canadian show with three seasons on Hulu. Erica herself is 32, but she travels back in time. To her high school/college self in a series of do-overs. It sounds cheesy, but I enjoyed the series and Erica's character.
posted by smalls at 3:04 PM on November 14, 2012

Without shame, I highly recommend ABC Family's Greek.
posted by oinopaponton at 3:11 PM on November 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

The UK version of Shameless is a family drama, mostly the way everyone orbits around the human wrecking ball and father known as Frank, but the show's in its 10th series, so all the ones who were kids in the first series are mostly adults by now. First series also has a young nobody named James McEvoy as a love-interest for the eldest daughter who carries the family load.

The US Version started off just fine, but I didn't keep up with it-- William H. Macy descended to a dark place in order to create his masterful re-creation of Frank... I swear I could smell him through the TV.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:16 PM on November 14, 2012

I suggest you revisit "Vampire Diaries." I didn't like it at first, but then I did. I do think they act a bit mature for high schoolers, but when I was in high school I thought I was very mature.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 3:21 PM on November 14, 2012

re: non-US suggestions, how about Misfits?
posted by elizardbits at 3:23 PM on November 14, 2012

Hmm, not sure where to find it, but there was a one-season show called NY-LON about a poor New York teacher (Rashida Jones) and a wealthy London finance guy (Stephen Moyer, now "Bill" on "True Blood."), and the many many obstacles life throws into their path. UK produced, very engrossing... some 7 episodes?

You could also try "Fresh Meat," a UK ensemble comedy in the vein of The Young Ones, but not nearly so surreal. It's about 6 (later 7) flatmakes in student house at a Manchester university, and how the identities they've created (in order to erase the people they were at home) generally clash with who they really are. Just hit episode 6 of the second series. Being brits, they generally express their angst through deep intoxication, rather than deep brooding. Relationship tension abounds, but, well, it's a comedic drama.

Second "Being Erica." Quality show, and somehow I completely buy Erica both when she's younger and older.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2012

Best answer: My wife and are watching Greek via Netflix. It's better than the premise may sound.

PS - Can I get a mod to anonymize this answer?
posted by COD at 3:45 PM on November 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

Seconding Friday Night Lights. It has a love triangle, unrequited love, angst, broken hearts, etc.
posted by invisible ink at 3:47 PM on November 14, 2012

I recommend Kyle XY. It's pretty squeaky-clean, but there's some teen relationship angst and bonus, it is also sci-fi.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:53 PM on November 14, 2012

"Chuck" is a 30-something version of Jake 2.0/Kyle XY
posted by Sunburnt at 4:06 PM on November 14, 2012

Best answer: The LA Complex, whose first two seasons are on Hulu right now, is actually really really engrossing. 20-somethings trying to make it big, but it's Canadian so it's actually, you know, got something to it. Plus, Jewel Staite as a bitchy washed-up former child actress!

Also, how has no one mentioned Dark Angel yet? James Cameron + Jessica Alba + post-apocalyptic Seattle = so much awesome cheesy goodness. Seriously. This show rivets me. Also, the first season performed so badly that they basically completely revamped the concept for the second season, so it's like watching two amazingly campy shows without having to adjust to new opening credits! There is no high school involved but that's because (1) apocalypse and (2) Jessica Alba is a part-cat escapee from an evil genetic testing facility that trained her to be the perfect soldier, who now works as a bike messenger while moonlighting as a cat burglar and trying to discover the truth of her identity! Who has time for high school with all that going on?
posted by posadnitsa at 4:12 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

ABC's Revenge! It's loosely based on the concept of The Count of Monte Christo, and is the only soap opera you'll catch this 20-something guy admit to watching. Who doesn't love a little payback in the Hamptons?

Be sure to read the AV Club's weekly recaps, as well. Both the critique and the comments add tremendously to my enjoyment of the show.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 4:45 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Secret Life of the American Teenager is appallingly terrible and no, it doesn't get better. (Honestly, it's so bad I have no idea how it got on tv and I'm embarrassed for the actors. And I don't have refined tastes in television.)

I highly recommend Joan of Arcadia. If you can handle religious overtones WITHOUT them being judgmental, cloying, or exclusionary, it's really great. Awesome teenagers, good storylines, good music. I have both seasons on DVD and I love it.

Dark Angel might be worth a look. It's not a GREAT show, but it's amusing enough. Maybe more sci-fi than you're looking for, but plenty of eye candy. (It's got a baby-faced Jensen Ackles, for God's sake.) Plus, you can always pick up the DVDs in the bargain bins at Target or Walmart for $9.99. (I realize that's not necessarily a ringing endorsement.)

And I agree that Life Goes On might be fun for you. I'd like to go back and watch that show!

Linda Holmes on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast just this week mentioned rewatching Party of Five and how much fun it was!
posted by Aquifer at 5:04 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 20s more than teens, but maybe What About Brian. Season one was enjoyable anyway. As I recall the second season was a bit weaker.

Somebody mentioned Misfits, and I'll second that although it took me a bit of time to get into it. It's worth sticking with though.

Peepshow has some relationship drama in it. Again it's older than teens though.

If you like politics at all Battleground on Hulu was pretty addictive to me for the first season. Again a little older than teens, but lots of relationship drama.

I'm going to throw Pramface out there too. Another UK show about teens. Drama mostly relates to teen pregnancy rather than hookups, but I enjoyed the first series.
posted by willnot at 5:34 PM on November 14, 2012

YES Pretty Little Liars. Just YES.
posted by yellowbinder at 6:11 PM on November 14, 2012

The Secret Life of the American Teenager is appallingly terrible and no, it doesn't get better. AGREED!

And I will second the suggestion for Instant Star. So angsty! So wonderful!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:43 PM on November 14, 2012

Seconding Party of Five and the UK version of Skins. Skins has pretty much everything you want.
posted by ephemerista at 6:51 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing Misfits. It's the thing to do after the first three seasons of Skins.
posted by Beardman at 7:37 PM on November 14, 2012

yup. UK version of Skins. also Dead Like Me.
posted by andshewas at 8:24 PM on November 14, 2012

Not High-schooly, but if you liked Alias, watch Nikita.
posted by jmd82 at 8:55 PM on November 14, 2012

If you liked Gilmore Girls you might like Bunheads.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 1:51 AM on November 15, 2012

I have fond memories of watching "Sugar Rush", UK show of 2 series about a 15 year-old lesbian and her (unrequited, or at the very least very complex) relationship with her friend "Sugar" and the lesbian scene, her parents etc. Loved it for being so graphic at times, and oddball funny.

For another UK thing, albeit somewhat tangential, I have heard fairly good things about the new short show "Switch": "Switch is an upbeat comedy-drama about four young witches trying to make their way in the big city where they live in Camden, North London. They want to live a modern life, not one based on their mothers' old-fashioned rituals. But modern life presents serious problems, and the girls can't help casting the occasional spell to try to sort things out." [Wikipedia].

I have a deep abiding love for trashy TV of the emotionally overwrought variety. Grey's Anatomy - all bajillion series of it - fulfill that need quite squarely. Though it's technically about adults, they are all basically high schoolers running round with scalpels and discussing their relationship angst. (Beware the gory surgery bits though!) For love triangle(s), see particularly series 1-6 I think...
posted by thetarium at 3:17 AM on November 15, 2012

I forgot to mention my anecdata about Dawson's Creek to Grey's Anatomy crossover: I got my friend hooked on DC, and then GA -- she pointed out the main difference is docks vs. hospitals, 90s hair vs. 00s hair...
posted by thetarium at 3:19 AM on November 15, 2012

From the UK - The Inbetweeners!
posted by drunkonthemoon at 4:45 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not teengaery at all, but all awsome series worth marathons:
Ally McBeal (how has this not been suggested yet?!)
Lois and Clark
Boston Legal
Star Trek TNG (it has a ton of episodes and it is all kinds of awesome and it only gets more awesome as it goes along.)
Tru Calling

-- more recent ones that I enjoy re-watching:
Grey's Anatomy (the first few seasons are particularly awesome)

(ps - Supernatural is a fantastic show. So glad to see that already on your list!)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:36 AM on November 15, 2012

I've heard good things about the UK Misfits, and Being Human is possibly slightly older than your age range but would fit with your fantasy tastes. The Inbetweeners is fantastically cringey, but it is not at all a soap and the angst comes from comedy rather than love triangles.

I have Huge waiting for me to watch - it;s about teenage kids in a fat camp.

Also, not quite a teen soap, but I've been loving Desperate Housewives recently purely because it's quite melodramatic and campy, and also each season has an mystery story arc which is fun. There are some plot lines involving the teenage residents of Wisteria Lane, particularly Bree's children, and there's a major love triangle in season 1 (I'm only up to 3 so not sure how much this changes). I was a little young for thirtysomething, but it definitely has that adults-act-like-teens quality. Especially Susan.
posted by mippy at 7:45 AM on November 15, 2012

Also, it's awful - I nickname it 'Aryan Nation' because it's full of identikit blondes - but there's the long-running UK teen soap Hollyoaks. I think it's like a Tesco Value version of Gossip Girl, or a British version of the very successful here, and very centred around teen relationships, Aussie shows Heartbreak High, Home and Away and Neighbours. I managed to get almost hooked on it when I worked in a job that left me waiting for something to come in between 6.30 and 7, so it might be more compelling than I'll admit.
posted by mippy at 7:53 AM on November 15, 2012

I love this genre unabashedly and with my unabashed love of it I would like to recommend most ABC Family shows. The aforementioned Pretty Little Liars is great(ish)/infuriatingly complex/addictive and GREEK and Kyle XY are good. I would also like to add Make It or Break It, which is about gymnasts. I loved it.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:04 PM on November 15, 2012

I recommend Parenthood, on NBC. Parenthood is produced by Jason Katims, who was the head writer and executive producer for Friday Night Lights. While most of the action centers around the adults (who frequently behave like teens - Crosby!), the show also has a great cast of teens/young adults with their own soapy storylines. In the latest episode I could not believe that sweet Drew would use his aunt's fight with cancer as a manipulative tool to win back his ex-girlfriend!
posted by kbar1 at 10:16 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Wildlife and Modern America...give me a primer.   |   Help me buy the best DSLR for my cash during Cyber... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.