Teen Dramas Over The Decades


The concept of teen dramas have been consistent throughout the decades. However, each decade we are introduced to a new set of characters that the world falls in love with. As we watch them grow and develop (or perhaps no growth occurs at all) in each season of the show, the jaw-dropping, heart-pumping teen dramas have made teens (and even adults) run to the screen weekly in the evening for a brand new shock.


The 1980s

Saved By The Bell (1989-1993)

Zack Morris–the blonde beach boy of one of the 80s dominating sitcoms–had the world swooning. With his loveable, but sly personality, he and his friends take on new adventures at California’s Bayside High School each episode. The group navigates relationships, friendships, breakups and all of the ups and downs of high school while consistently frustrating their principal, Mr. Belding. The main characters who discover along side Zach are cheerleader Kelly, jock Slater, feminist Jessie, fashion expert Lisa and nerd Screech. At times life as a teenager got the best of the group, but their close knit friendship ended up conquering all.  Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu (Premium), Peacock

A Different World (1987-1993)

A spinoff of the classic sitcom, The Cosby Show, sends one of the family’s daughters (Denise Huxtable) to college. At the predominantly Black school, Hillman College, Denise is introduced to a whole new world of living. She explores college life alongside her roommates, Jaleesa and Maggie. The show shifted to focus on other members of the show when Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) left the show; however, the witty and humorous characters of the show made it into a classic. Once Denise left the show, the other Hillman students, sassy Southern Belle Whitley, nerdy math major Dwayne, and his best friend, Ron take over the adventures of the show. The story of unrequited love is prominent in this show, but it also explores the struggle of entering adulthood and all of the good and bad that comes with it.  Where to watch: Youtube TV, Amazon Prime Video

Head Of The Class (1986-1991)

The basis of this 80s hit remains in the classroom. A group of brilliant students who are “head of the class” are put together in a class for gifted students. Although they are all intelligent, they discover that they have so much to learn about each other and life. An easygoing teacher–offers them a bucket full of lessons, and in the process his students return the favor to teach him lessons as well.   Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

The 1990s

Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000)

90210–one of the most loved teen dramas of all time, follows the lives of twin siblings Brandon and Brenda Walsh. New to the uppity Beverly Hills area, the siblings must adjust to their surroundings. Along the way they gather a tight knit group of friends who remain by their side through high school and college into adulthood. The show is infamous for its stream of love triangles and other romances, but the show also occasionally touches on more serious issues that may occur in a teenagers world.  Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime Video

Boy Meets World (1993-2000)


Alongside his one true love Topanga, his best friend Shawn, and his teacher and neighbor Mr. Feeney, heartstopper Cory Matthews juggles school, love, and friendship. The show begins with a young Cory Matthews in the sixth grade. However, the world watches him fail and succeed in order to grow and learn into adulthood.   Where to watch: Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video

Roswell (1999-2002)

Based in the bizarre city–Roswell, New Mexico–strange things begin to happen years after a UFO was spotted in the area. Three teenage aliens who have the appearance of basic high school students must balance life as an extraterrestrial with life as an American teenager. With the help of their human friends, they adventure high school, while fighting to keep their identity underwraps. In the process, they fall in love, making it even more difficult to keep their secret.   Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu (Premium)

Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003)

Ahhhh, Dawson’s Creek–this teen drama series circles the life of teenage aspiring filmmaker Dawson Leery. Very early on in the show, we are introduced to Dawson’s clever girl best friend Joey Potter, who has been in love with him since childhood, close friend and slacker Pacey Witter, and the worldly new girl next door Jen Lindley. New friends come and go throughout the show, but one thing that stays consistent is the confusing friendship between Dawson and Joey which eventually becomes a very complicated love triangle.  Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video


Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)

The endearing show focused on the lives of sweet and relatively introverted Rory Gilmore and her witty and independent mother Lorelai Gilmore has given the world sweet mother-daughter vibes for years. Teenager Rory, who has a tight knit relationship with her mom tackles life as she runs into love, friendship, family, and school. Lorelai ran away from her incredibly privileged life as a teenager and landed in a small town in Connecticut (Stars Hollow) to learn the ways of life on her own. Rory, who grew up less privileged than her mother is introduced to the uppity nature of her mother’s past life when she begins to attend Chilton High School (with the help of her grand-parents money).    Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video

One Tree Hill (2003-2012)


Based right here in North Carolina–One Tree Hill tells the story of teenager Lucas and is half brother Nate. The rivalry between the two brothers fuels most of the conflict in the show at the beginning. The fight between the two is endless over basketball, girls, and recognition from their father. Although the brothers fail to get along for much of the show, they soon create a tight knit group of friends with the other main characters of the show, Paige, Brooke, Haley, and Mouth. New friends and enemies come and go throughout the show, but together, the group of friends take on high school and early adulthood.   Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime Video

Gossip Girl (2007-2012)

XOXO, Gossip Girl–the trademark of this 2000’s hit teen drama centered around two wealthy best friends, Serena and Blaire. The high school students living in Manhattan’s Upper East Side are often tested by an unknown and ruthless blogger, “Gossip Girl.” The characters have a hard time keeping secrets close to home, as the mysterious blogger seems to get hold of all the information needed to fuel drama. Friends, turned enemies, turned friends, and so on, attempt to handle their privileged lives, which involves love, scandals, and lies, while constantly being exploited by Gossip Girl.   Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

Glee (2009-2015)

An optimistic teacher at McKinley High School, Will Schuster, decides to revamp the school’s glee club. The previously mediocre glee club turns into the New Directions, where the incredibly talented students of the club ambitious find strength, acceptance and their voice. As the students share their passions and largely unpopular club, they run into a lot of clapback and hate. The ambitious students, with the help of their glee teacher, learn and grow in a number of ways. As the glee club reaches for the top, they face the school’s conniving cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, who is constantly sabotaging the team.   Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video


Pretty Little Liars (2010-2017)

After a year passes of one of their best friends’ deaths (Alison), a tight bunch of girl friends must handle a series of anonymous messages that they have begun to receive. Spencer, Aria, Hanna and Emily have grown apart since Alison’s death, but when they each begin to receive threatening text messages from “A,” they set themselves on a quest to solve a mystery in order to stop the blackmailer from exposing their secrets–old and new. The girls must figure out who  “A” is and how they know all of their deepest secrets. Along the way secrets are revealed and lies are dispelled, leaving the girls in complete disbelief.     Where to watch: HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video

Switched At Birth (2011-2017)

A wealthy teenager named Bay and Daphne, who lost her hearing at an early age, and was raised by a single mother, worlds become intertwined when they discover that they were switched at birth. Conflict is inevitable in this show as the two teenagers struggle to juggle the introduction of an entire new biological family into each of their lives. Daphne’s mom, who is struggling financially, is prompted to allow her daughter to live with Bay and her family; the conflict of the show only climaxes from there. The two completely opposite families do their best to adjust to these unusual circumstances for the sake of the two girls.    Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Freeform

The Fosters (2013-2018)

The Foster family which originally consists of Stef, her biological son Brandon, and wife Lena, grows exponentially as the family decides to foster children. Twin siblings Mariana and Jesus were foster children, but the audience is introduced to the two as adopted children of the Foster family. Lena meets Callie, who has become guarded from being passed around to different foster homes, and is determined to protect her younger brother Jude. Lena is compelled to help Callie, but at the cost of help for her brother two. Callie’s behavior makes Stef and Lena second-guess their decision to help her; however, Callie and Jude become lasting members of the Foster family. The family consisting of all high school students, must juggle life at home and in the outside world to discover themselves and find their identities.   Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Freeform

Euphoria (2019-Present)

The newest teen drama introduced to the world stars child actress Zendaya, who plays a troubled teen, just out of rehab named Rue. The show explores many topics prevalent in the decade. Alongside Rue are a set of other high schoolers, discovering themselves and the world around them. Jules, a transgender girl is searching for belonging; Nate, is struggling with anger issues fueled from masking insecurities; Chris, is attempting to adjust to college life; Cassie, is struggling with her reputation; and Kat, is attempting to find confidence after being body conscious. The students struggle to make sense of their lives, while the series presents the anxiety filled lives of teenagers with insight and truth.     Where to watch: Hulu (Premium), HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Youtube TV


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