The 90’s gave us some of the best movies and TV shows of all time. It also gave us some of the greatest teen shows ever made. Shows that were funny and addressed the issues of the 90’s teen in a way not seen in previous decades. They also often tackled hard hitting issues such as suicide, drugs and teen pregnancy in a pragmatic, realistic way, that simply hadn’t been done before. Here, we take a look at some of the greatest teen TV shows of the 90’s.
My So Called Life
My So Called Life only lasted for one season but it had a huge impact. It gave us Jared Leto and Clare Danes, and dealt with some serious issues such as drug abuse, depression and struggles with coming to terms with your sexual orientation. It followed Angela, (Clare Danes), as she traversed the muddy waters of a 90’s American high school, and dealt with the dichotomy between yearning to be accepted, and wanting to be your own person and make your mark on the world.
Ready Or Not
Ready Or Not was a Canadian show that followed the lives of two young girls, entering into the treacherous world of puberty. Set in the suburbs of Toronto, it focused on Amanda Zimm (Laura Bertram) and Elizabeth “Busy” Ramone (Lani Billard), as they dealt with life’s struggles as well as showcasing each girls different backgrounds. Amanda was an only child raised by liberal former hippie parents while Busy was from a more conservative and traditional Italian Canadian Catholic household with three older brothers.
Dawson’s Creek Followed the lives of four best friends in the small coastal, Massachusetts town of Capeside. Best friends since childhood, they are about to enter that confusing time in life where nothing is the way it was and nothing is as it seems. This was everyone’s favourite obsession in the 90’s, especially the will they, won’t they romance storyline of the title character Dawson and his female best friend Joey.
California Dreams centered on the lives of the California Dreams, a teen music group trying to make the big time. The show was part comedy, part drama, and often focused on serious social issues such as drug abuse, racism and dealing with parents after divorce.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Into every generation, a slayer is born. Every teen loved Buffy in the 90’s. It followed the story of Buffy Summers, (Sarah Michelle Gellar), as she becomes a vampire slayer, or rather the vampire slayer, since there can only be one. Buffy and her friends, her ‘scooby gang’, go week to week fighting bad guys and killing demons. But it was more than just pulpy horror TV fare. It dealt with difficult issues at the same time, and invested heavily in its characters, so we all really cared about what happened to each member of the Buffy cast.
This teen high school comedy drama centered around two high school girls on the opposite ends of the school hierarchy, who are forced to make nice when Brooke’s father meets Sam’s mother on a cruise and become engaged. The girls now live together and their individual peer groups are forced to co-mingle in and out of school with interesting repercussions. This was an awesome show, despite being short lived, because it had the message that not everyone is what they seem, and tackled the elitism that exists within the high school system of hierarchy. Most of its young cast also went on to become fairly big stars, including: Leslie Bibb, Carly Pope, Leslie Grossman, Tammy Lynn Michaels, Sarah Rue and Christpopher Gorham.
Party Of Five
Party Of Five was a show that had very adult themes but was presented in very teenage accessible ways. It was intelligent and engaging and had some truly brilliant storylines over the course of its 6 seasons run. The show follows the Salinger family, in the aftermath of their parents death in a car crash. The five Salinger siblings are now forced to live on their own, and the oldest son, Charlie, is appointed as their legal guardian. Their new situation means putting aside personal goals to help make ends meet and keep the family together. The show starred Scott Wolf, Neve Campbell, Lacey Chabert, Matthew Fox and Jennifer Love–Hewitt.
7th Heaven focused on the life of Eric Camden, a reverend, his wife Annie, and their five children, Matt, Mary, Lucy, Simon and Ruthie. Over the course of the show, five becomes seven when Annie becomes pregnant with twins, David and Sam. The show follows the challenges of raising a family during permissive times. Legendary producer Aaron Spelling served as an executive producer on the show. It ran for 11 seasons and saw all of the children grow up and become adults with some of them starting their own family. It dealt with hard hitting issues and often touched on some very touchy subject matters, like rape and domestic abuse. The show also gave Jessica Biel her big break as she played the oldest sister, Mary Camden.
Some of the shows on this list probably wouldn’t get made today, at least not in the same way. The type of quality programming that existed for teens in the 90’s simply doesn’t exist anymore, which really just goes to prove that they don’t make ’em like they used to!