Best teen dramas, ranked — 20 teenage shows on tv, netflix, more indiewire electricity generation by state


“Lizzie McGuire” creator Terri Minskey turned her Midas touch to this Disney Channel series that blends socially progressive messaging with the silliness that comes with being a young teen. The adorable Peyton Elizabeth Lee plays the title character Andi Mack, a girl who learns that the person she thought was her older sister is actually her mother (and that her mother is actually her grandmother). It’s heartening to see such a storyline exist, in addition to the fact that Andi and her mother are also part Chinese, but this racial makeup doesn’t define them. Instead, the family-friendly series explores time-honored teenage issues – such as crushes and dating – as well as issues that haven’t ever been addressed on a Disney Channel sitcom before, such as one character’s coming-out story, being the child of a military parent, and youth anxiety. Fortunately, the series exhibits a deft hand at being able to handle these issues sensitively and beautifully without ever losing its sense of humor. There may be hope for the future yet. Read More: ‘Andi Mack’: Bar Mitzvah Episode Explores Youth Anxiety in a Frightening but Compassionate Way 18. “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” (1996–2003), ABC/The WB

While Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) wasn’t the typical teenager (see: her love of heavy tomes and hanging out with adults), her mother Lorelai (Lauren Graham), who gave birth to her when she was a teen, never seemed to stop smelling like teen spirit herself. Well, you catch our drift. Equipped with a sugar-filled ability to never stop speaking at breakneck speeds and see the pop-culture absurdity in any situation, Lorelai ushered her daughter into the world off the page. Filled with first loves, major mistakes, silly hijinks, and big dreams, “Gilmore Girls” was anchored by the relationships Rory had with her family and occasionally her friends, when they weren’t being the worst. The series existed in a strange plane that welcomed all quirks (and Kirks, including Cat Kirk), and in a way, that’s the most nurturing environment of all for teens. The series was so beloved, it inspired a four-part limited series sequel on Netflix. Read More: Lauren Graham On Closure, Why ‘Gilmore Girls’ Got The Perfect Ending, and How She’s Writing The Next Chapter Of Her Life 16. “Suburgatory” (2011–2014), ABC

This short-lived ABC comedy remains memorable for its distinct quirks. While it technically began as a father-daughter story about life in the suburbs, the show quickly built out its unique perspective on the world of the affluent and accordingly strange. As depicted by the show, “Suburgatory” allowed us to embrace the shallow nature of Chatswin as a town, while also finding the underlying humanity with all of its characters. Most importantly, while Jane Levy was an engaging lead as the jaded Tessa, Carly Chaikin regularly stole the show as (theoretically) air-headed Dalia, who often offered the show’s most profound insights on teen life in her amazing time on screen. Read More: ‘Mr. Robot’ Star Carly Chaikin Reveals the Stress of Long Takes and Why Reacting to Rami Malek’s Voice-Over Is a Challenge 15. “Red Oaks” (2015–2017), Amazon Video

“Red Oaks” doesn’t skip over the jump from high school to college, nor does it treat everything as a buildup to graduation and departure. For three seasons, the sweet Amazon series looked at that moment of transition as an opportunity; a defining point in time where boys and girls in school became men and women of the world. Its stories about an amateur tennis pro from a low-to-middle class family and his relationship with an artist looking to rebel against her family’s upper-class attitudes took advantage of their youthful vision to tell more stories about their parents’ lack of ambition. Things changed for everyone on “Red Oaks,” even as it revolved around a temporary oasis — a country club where adults came to relax and kids worked toward their future. Gregory Jacobs and Joe Gangemi’s series was about moving past stasis and seizing chances as they come your way. It’s a distinctly teenage feeling, but one that the wise try to grasp again and again as they get older. “Red Oaks” captured that vibe and made it contagious. Watch, be inspired, and don’t forget your friends. Read More: Steven Soderbergh and David Gordon Green on the ‘Funny’ Resurgence of ’80s Nostalgia and ‘Red Oaks’ Final Season

Inspired by the teenage years of Chris Rock, who narrated the show, “Everybody Hates Chris” highlighted what it’s like to be somewhere that you feel you don’t belong. The young Chris (Tyler James Williams) is a runt who winds up switching to a predominantly white school in order to receive a better education. But he’s bullied at that school, and even at home, things rarely go his way. (Hence the show’s title.) But even as Chris copes with growing up, his parents (Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold) also struggle with how to provide for their kids. These are Chris’ formative years, and although they’re played for laughs, there’s also poignancy to them. Read More: Chris Rock’s First Standup Special in a Decade is a Smaller, More Personal Return from an All-Time Great 12. “Gossip Girl” (2007–2012), The CW

For as fun as the core mystery of “Gossip Girl” could be, Josh Schwartz’s Big Apple-based “O.C.” follow-up worked best when it wasn’t worried about revealing the secret identity behind the titular gossip site host (which was evident most of all when the series finally did). It had an explosive cast of characters ready to stir up some high-class trouble at the drop of a top hat; there were passionate romances and young, innocent crushes galore; money was no object, which made these wealthy Manhattanites the perfect fantasy delivery system for every teen who dreams of looking fabulous in their dress, hair, makeup, clothes, and cars — at all cost. Plus, Blair (Leighton Meester) was all-around dynamite, and her forbidden romance with Chuck (Ed Westwick) lit those early episodes on fire. XOXO forever. Read More: ‘Atlanta’: Ranking Every Episode of Donald Glover’s Groundbreaking FX Comedy So Far