Iconic Teen Dramas

How would they hold up now?

Beverly Hills, 90210, 1990-2000

Then: 
Beverly Hills, 90210, airing from 1990-2000, was the first of its kind. Many have credited the show with popularising the teen soap genre, with many of the actors becoming household names. The show was praised for its discussion of several teen issues like eating disorders, alcoholism and sexuality, while some believed that some of these serious problems were glamorised by the show. Despite this, Beverly Hills, 90210 will forever go down in history as the original teen drama.

Now: 
In many ways, Beverly Hills, 90210 is still relevant. Teens still struggle with the same issues that were discussed in the show and people across the world still enjoy watching how the other half live. Reboots and spinoffs of the show, such as Melrose Place and BH90210, are a testament to the drama’s popularity and legacy.My So-Called Life, 1994-1995

Then: 
My So-Called Life will always be an iconic 90s teen drama, purely for the fact that it launched Hollywood greats, Claire Danes and Jared Leto to fame. The show followed Danes’ character, Angel Chase, through the trials and tribulations of American High School life.
Now: 
Featuring several familiar faces, fans may still enjoy this classic show. Teens still find Angel Chase relatable, as they battle their own age-old teen problems with boys, parents and parties. My So-Called Life is a coming-of-age tale, which any generation can relate to.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1997-2003

Then:
Without a doubt, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a cult classic, with Sarah Michelle Gellar (who played Buffy Summers) cementing her legacy as one of the original teen idols. The plot follows Buffy as she battles vampires, embracing her destiny as a “Slayer.” The outlandish plot lines and likeable characters led to the show’s nomination for several prestigious awards over the years, including Gellar’s nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series.
Now:
It is clear, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still incredibly popular, with a number of spinoffs, merchandise and comics (collectively termed the “Buffyverse”) still being produced for the cult fans of this show. Only three years ago, a second spinoff series was developed, sending Buffyverse into a spin!

The O.C., 2003-2007

Then: 
Running for a total of four seasons, The O.C. was very popular in its heyday. Dealing with topics of child neglect, the show shed light on the culture clash experienced by main character Ryan as he moved from his unstable home to live with his philanthropic foster parents in Orange County. The show gained popularity with its many loveable characters.
Now:
It’s not obvious whether The O.C. would receive such a warm reception from a modern audience. Although teen homelessness and neglect are still prominent issues, many may find Ryan’s journey from rags to riches both unrelatable and unbelievable. The declining ratings led to the show’s cancellation in 2007, which suggests that watchers of years past thought this too…

One Tree Hill, 2003-2012

Then:
One Tree Hill portrayed the challenges faced by two half-brothers growing up in a small town in North Carolina. They are forced to navigate new family relationships, new romantic relationships and high school troubles, often competing against each other. The show was loved by many for its relatable storylines, which documented the difficulties of teen life and brotherhood.
Now: 
The challenges of teen life ring true for teens of any decade and many may still relate to the storylines presented in One Tree Hill. The importance of basketball in the show helps maintain its popularity even now, as many teens recognise a similar passion for the sport within themselves. However, since two of the key characters (Lucas and Peyton) refused to return to the drama for its seventh season, many fans were left questioning what sort of drama transpired after the director yelled “cut.”

The Secret Life of the American Teenager, 2008-2013

Then: 
Shailene Woodley was first made famous by this show which aired between 2008-2013. Although the show had poor reception with critics, the drama was popular among female and teen viewers due to its funny tween characters. The season 1 finale received 4.5 million viewers which beat that night’s episode of Gossip Girl!
Now: 
Many of the issues discussed in the show, including teen pregnancy and parental divorce are still prevalent today and in that sense, the show would still hold up now. However, the show has been criticised for its wooden acting, which suggests it might not be so widely loved now.

Gossip Girl, 2007-2012

Then:
Similar to its predecessor, Beverly Hills, 902010Gossip Girl followed the lives of the mega-rich teens, this time in the Upper East Side of New York City. With a mysterious alias allowing the enigmatic “Gossip Girls” to conceal their identity, the characters were constantly left guessing who was behind the cryptic and revealing text messages. Gossip Girl was made popular by the lavish lifestyle it portrayed, including the iconic designer fashion that was worn by the wealthy characters. Fans wished they too could be friends with Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen!
Now: 
While the actors from this series, like Penn Badgley and Blake Lively, have gone on to star in other hits, the topics of cyber-bullying in Gossip Girl remain relevant to today’s audiences. As technology develops and more and more children and teens have their own mobile phones, online bullying has never been more prevalent.

Glee, 2009-2015

Then: 
From the beginning, Glee was an instant hit, with fans across the world loving the cast’s synchronised performances. The show tackled several issues throughout its 129 episodes, including bereavement and teenage pregnancy, with the teens singing and dancing through their struggles.
Now:
Glee doesn’t hold up so well now but largely due to the scandals associated with several cast members. With three of the original cast members dead, including Naya Rivera (Santana) who was found drowned in 2020 and another one embroiled in allegations of racism during her time on set, many fans are calling others to boycott this once beloved teen drama. The Vampire Diaries, 2009-2017

Then: 
The Vampire Diaries was one of the most-watched teen dramas, with the first season averaging around 3.6 million views. Fans fell in love with the tall, dark and handsome vampires and the beautiful Elena (played by Nina Dobrev) caught in a love triangle in their supernatural town of Mystic Falls.
Now: 
The Vampire Diaries might entice the same crowd now, as the handsome Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley (who played the Salvatore brothers) remain timeless teen icons. However, some may argue that the era of teen vampire mania has well and truly ended with the last movie in the Twilight series airing almost 10 years ago.

Pretty Little Liars, 2010-2017

Then: 
This series was incredibly popular, with fans eagerly awaiting the release of each new series. Many girls across the world saw themselves in the Rosewood clique, following along the murder mystery trail with their own friends, trying to guess the mysterious identity of the terrorising “A.”
Now: 
Pretty Little Liars initially received good reviews and ratings, with viewers constantly left on cliffhangers at the end of each episode and season. However, with fans bitterly disappointed with the show’s conclusion, which was both confusing and unrealistic due to Troian Bellisario’s laughable British accent, perhaps the show would be much less loved by audiences to come. However, similarly to its predecessor Gossip Girl, the theme of cyberbullying remains important today.