If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll already know that, according to people whose job it is to tell you these things, we are in a peak era of television. There’s Atlanta. There’s Veep. There’s Westworld. That this golden era exists is not up for debate–there are literally, not figuratively, so many critically-acclaimed shows on the air right now that it is impossible to watch all of them without sacrificing roughly fifty percent of your week and one hundred percent of your social life to do so–but there is a discussion about when, exactly, it started. Was it 1999, with The Sopranos? 2002, with The Wire? 2007, with Mad Men?
At the time of publication, nobody has asked me what my opinion is on this matter. But, if someone were to ask, I’d say that the golden era of TV actually started in 2003–not with Arrested Development, as some might expect, but with The OC, the iconic Southern California-set teen drama that influenced most of the teen dramas that would follow it. Basically, while commonly-accepted prestige shows like Breaking Bad and Black Mirror are fine and all, teen dramas are where it always has been and always will be for me.
If you live in the United States, there are a bunch of great teen TV shows from your proverbial backyard–Riverdale, Teen Wolf, the first three seasons of Pretty Little Liars–for you to choose from. But why limit yourself? There are tons of equally great teen shows from other countries to watch that, if nothing else, will help you gain some cool points for knowing about them before they get adapted for American TV. So, check out these teen TV shows from other countries that you should check out:
SkamIf you have been on Tumblr at any point in the past year or so, chances are good that you are already familiar (in gif form, at least) with Skam, a Norwegian soap about a group of teenagers at a prep school in a wealthy section of Oslo. Skam--which roughly translates to the word "shame" in English--just wrapped up its third season, with each season focusing on a different character in the show. The show is not noteworthy so much for its content, which contains a lot of sex, partying, and, yes, drama (you can think of it as a Norwegian version of Gossip Girl with more likable characters), but more so for the immersive way it is presented. The show doesn't run as a weekly program, but is posted in real time to the show's website as if the events portrayed on the show are actually happening live, even creating social media accounts for each of the characters to give it a more realistic feel. Anyway, if you like shows about conventionally attractive, rich teenagers with little to no adult supervision (who doesn't?), give Skam a try--I'm almost positive you'll love it. You can watch this on YouTube. Image source: Skam
Boys Over FlowersIf fancy prep school epochs are your jam, you should check out Boys Over Flowers, a South Korean drama about a girl who gets a scholarship to an exclusive private high school. When she's there, she gains the attention of a group of four wealthy, entitled guys, who call themselves the "F4" group--she finds them insufferable, obviously, but (spoiler alert?) they all sort of fall in love with her. The show only had one season (it ended officially in 2009) but it has twenty-five episodes, so it should be enough to get your K-drama fix for at least a few days. You can watch this on YouTube. Image source: Boys Over Flowers
HeartlandWhen it comes to Canadian teen dramas, most people, I assume, tend to automatically think of Degrassi. No offense to Degrassi, obviously (and, subsequently, no offense to Drake's penis) but people really should be paying more attention to Heartland, an equally dramatic show about, um, a teen horse whisperer who has to deal with life on the family ranch after her mom is killed in a car crash. It's great! It's also been on for, like, a million seasons (which is to say, ten), so clearly, they're doing a lot of things right. You can watch this on Amazon Prime. Image source: Heartland
Degrassi Next ClassLook, when I said no offense to Degrassi, I meant it, okay? I didn't watch the OG series, but I have been watching its reboot (Degrassi: Next Class, if you want to know its technical name), and you know what? It's pretty great. The show has a large, diverse cast, the characters are relatable, and each episode is just dramatic enough to keep you coming back for the next one. You can watch this on Netflix. Image source: Degrassi Next Class
This Is PikiThis Is Piki is a New Zealand drama about Piki, a young Maori girl who is--as is the case with so many teen dramas--trying to find herself. The show has been lauded for taking a realistic look at teen lives, as well as giving representation to the indigenous Maori culture in New Zealand. Much like Skam, This Is Piki has a strong focus on social media with each episode--every episode ends with a Snapchat. You can watch this on YouTube. Image source: This Is Piki
Juana La VirgenIf you are watching Jane The Virgin--which absolutely everyone should be doing, by the way--you should also check out its original Venezualan iteration. This one has more or less the same plot as the one you're probably already familiar with (a girl, who happens to be a virgin, gets pregnant by artificial insemination due to an error at the hospital), and, like the American version, is great in spite of its absurd-sounding plot. Besides, you get cool points (maybe?) for knowing about the original series in addition to the new one. You can watch this on Hulu. Image source: Juana La Virgen
SkinsPutting Skins on this list feels a little bit like cheating--everyone knows about it, so it's not exactly a surprise--but ignoring it altogether is probably a sin. The show, which ran from 2007-2013, followed groups of teens through two years of high school, showing a gritty, realistic view of the way real teens actually live their lives instead of showing the glossed-over version that gets shown on (great) shows like Gilmore Girls and The O.C. This series is also noteworthy because the cast was switched out every two years, meaning that the show stayed exclusively high school-oriented and, most importantly, had actual teens playing the roles. You can watch this on Netflix. Image source: Skins
Do you watch any of these shows? Did I forget any good ones? Let us know in the comments!