Is there anything better than a super-cheesy teen show? The answer is obviously no. While “grown up” shows might have drama and romance, they never quite match the intensity —or ridiculousness—that the teens bring. I’ve been watching teen dramas since I was a little girl and decades later I still haven’t grown out of them (I probably never will at this rate). If you adore over-the-top drama, love triangles that never end and enjoy regular random accidents, then you might also be a teen show addict. Join me as I binge on three of my favorites—plus one drama-filled book:
Oh, One Tree Hill. You’re so over the top with your car crashes, teen marriages, pregnancies, more car crashes, near-drowning, stalkings, love triangles, love quadrangles…I could go on and on. The loose premise is that Lucas and Nathan Scott grow up in the same town, though their lives couldn’t be more different. Lucas, the son of a cool single mom, is an outcast with his best friend Haley. Nathan is the star of the basketball team, insanely popular, kind of mean and living with his mother and father in relative luxury. The kicker? They have the same dad: Dan Scott, a sociopath who abandons Lucas and his mom in favor of his new family. There’s no way to truly capture the insanity that is One Tree Hill in a simple paragraph, but trust me, the family and love drama only gets more intense. Soon Nathan is married to Haley at age 16, emancipated from his parents and working on becoming an NBA star. Lucas has an ongoing love triangle between Brooke and Peyton, a bestselling novel, and a murdered uncle —who’s also the father of his new little sister. It’s all nuts—and I can’t get enough.
The OC was brilliantly funny, filled with over-the-top drama and surprisingly romantic. Thank heavens they made the decision to kill off the boring and annoying Marissa in a later season, but I just like to pretend she’s not there for the rest of the time. But it doesn’t matter —I’m in it for Seth and Summer, the geek and the popular girl who are so cute it hurts. This California show focused on Ryan, a troubled kid who ends up living with Seth Cooper and his family and joining one of the wealthiest societies in America. It all would have been a lot more ridiculous without the humor and heart that the show brought every week. Also, there were house fires, kids questioning their sexuality, relationships formed and broken on the regular, and enough parental drama to give the whole thing some weight. Man, I miss this show.
I might be aging myself, but I remember when Dawson’s Creek fervor hit America back in the late ‘90s. My friends and I would crowd around our lockers talking about the latest antics of Pacey, Dawson and Joey, or pass each other VHS tapes of recorded episodes (OK, now I’m definitely aging myself). Regardless, this show had it all: A strong love triangle that kept shifting season by season. A bad boy who makes a surprising play for his best friend’s girl (Joey+Pacey FOREVER!). And enough high-school drama to keep you glued to the TV for hours. The set-up is ridiculously simple: Dawson is obsessed with making movies and lives on a creek. His best friend Joey is secretly in love with him. His buddy Pacey makes a lot of jokes. And when the hot, sophisticated Jen moves in with her grandmother next door, everything changes. It could have been just another ordinary show, but the chemistry of the cast and the insanely complicated dialogue brought it to another level.
For the Record by Charlotte Huang (Delacorte Press; November 10, 2015)
Young adult novels are the best, particularly when they’re about teenager rock stars. Huang’s contemporary romance is described as “If Almost Famous were a YA novel.” Sign me up, please. It tells the story of Chelsea, the lead singer of Melbourne, a moderately famous band whose members don’t really like her. Unfortunately, she’s getting a crush on the bassist even as teen heartthrob Lucas Rivers starts getting a crush on her. His interest puts Melbourne in the spotlight—and they’re not too happy about it. Can Chelsea balance fame, boys, and high school?