I consider myself to be a HUGE Teen Drama expert.
I’ve seen pretty much all of them – but which ones are worth it?
I list the top 10 below!
10. The OC
Alright, this one’s a classic. It was a toss-up between this and Dawson’s Creek, but honestly The O.C. is more iconic to me.
I mean, come on. We’ve got classic tropes of bad boy and rich girl, nerd and popular girl, the wonder that is Seth Cohen’s dialogue, an iconic theme song, and one of the biggest memes of our generation. What more could you want?
Don’t hate me on this. I know it’s horrible. But there are 2 kinds of people in the world: people who still have 50 Glee versions of songs on their itunes and liars.
Honestly, the singing’s good. The editing is fun. The first few seasons are cute. It’s the only musical teen show. Let’s just leave it at that, right?
8. Skins UK
Okay, so this is kind of the opposite of the O.C. It’s much more real and gritty, but that’s what I love about it. It confronted so many serious issues in a way that felt authentic. Plus it gave Angsty Teens Effy Stonem gifs to use for generations.
7. Teen Wolf
I love campy shows, and especially shows that know they’re campy. This one’s a totally unrealistic werewolf show with the surprisingly good acting skills of Dylan O’Brien. The special effects are horrible and most of the acting is way over the top, but that just adds to the fun. They actually do a pretty good job exploring littler known mythology, too.
6. Pretty Little Liars
I love teen shows that crossover into other genres, and this is a great example. Discounting the last few seasons, PLL was a great mystery show with a really interesting premise. It also made really good use of the social media and constant texting phase our generation was going through at the time, much like Gossip Girl did. Bonus points for featuring the first lesbian main character on a teen drama (correct me if I’m wrong on this – I don’t think Santana on Glee came out until after Emily).
This is another fun mystery show that somehow manages to be both darker and more ridiculous than Pretty Little Liars. Pretty Little Liars was bad but sometimes trying to be good – Riverdale knows exactly what it is. It’s a new show, but it’s honestly already iconic.
4. 13 Reasons Why
This is another newer show, but like Skins it feels a lot more gritty and real. It explores issues like suicide and rape really authentically. Plus it’s also a mystery, and the music’s amazing. There’s also some stellar acting.
3. Gossip Girl
All the teen drama tropes you love, but make it rich people.
These are the characters you love to hate. The Netflix description literally reads “Rich, unreasonably attractive private school students do horrible, scandalous things to each other. Repeatedly.” and that about sums it up. It’s got awesome fashion and characters whose lives are nothing like yours. But somehow you can’t stop watching. Also makes good use of modern technology!
2. The Vampire Diaries
Another crossover – this one supernatural. It’s not quite as campy as Teen Wolf, and it’s certainly more gory. It also introduced us to one of the more iconic love triangles of all time, where Elena has to choose between vampire brothers Stefan and Damon.
It got a little old after ALL the characters kept dying and coming back to life, but it actually had one of my favorite series finales of all time. It had some epic villains and led to 2 spinoffs, so somebody must’ve liked it. The plotlines are fun, and the acting and special effects are mostly decent enough, but the real reason to watch is the relationships. There’s nothing CW does like creating and sinking ships.
1.One Tree Hill
Sorry, Friday Night Lights fans – this is the only sports teen drama I recognize.
This one holds a special place in my heart because it’s literally where I got my music from. Plus, what other teen show can you remember that lasted NINE seasons?? It gave us Brooke Davis and Sophia Bush, which is reason alone to love it, but it also has literally every teen drama trope ever. Plus the whole setup of Nathan and Lucas actually is really interesting and carries us six of those seasons. And the Peyton Brooke Lucas love triangle is as iconic as Stelena/Delena.
It tried REALLY hard to be deep, but teenage me literally papered my wall with those quotes, so who am I to judge.
Some of its plotlines also rival Riverdale in their ridiculousness.
But mostly, I watched for the characters and relationships.