Now, I don’t generally seek out high school series to watch on TV or Netflix. They’re like contemporary reads for me: they’re okay, just not my cup of tea. But out of the ones I have attempted to watch over the years, these are the few that I’ve managed to watch from beginning to end. The best of the best from a person who has no real qualifications to determine such a thing.
You should watch them.
I was in LOVE with Glee while it was airing. Though it played on stereotypes and didn’t lack any amount of cheese, I appreciated this drama/comedy because in many ways it reflected my high school experience: everyone stuck to their own groups (I was mostly in the “freaks/misfits” group) and the drama was absolutely ridiculous.
Of course, I wasn’t in a glee club so couldn’t quite connect to those experiences on the show, but I do thoroughly enjoy music and there was rarely an episode I watched where I didn’t sing and laugh along with the characters. (And oftentimes I would even listen to the soundtracks online after.) Musical tv? I’m not sold on the concept, but for some reason this show worked for me.
I even got so excited about this series that I actually bought third-row tickets to see Glee in concert. I took my mom along and the entire show she couldn’t help but laugh at my ridiculous amount of excitement. But hey, these guys are performers! I was watching them do their thing outside of my TV! It was magic!
That being said, there’s a reason that I only included the DVDs for Seasons 1-4 in this photo: once the squad leaves high school, the series sort of falls apart for me. I still watched every episode until the end, but it just wasn’t the same. (Add what happened to Cory and yeah, way too much heartbreak.)
This is my most recent fav and one I feel like I need to encourage everyone to watch now before the US ruins it with their adaptation that is in the works. SKAM is a Norwegian teen drama series that primarily revolves around a close-knit group of friends (mainly the five girls pictured above) and I think it’s the most realistic and important teen series I’ve ever seen.
Each season focuses on a different character and their personal struggles, including everything from relationship difficulties, eating disorders, sexual assault, coming out, mental health issues, religion, feelings of belonging… It’s just all there. Even if you haven’t been through it any of it yourself, you may recognize these as issues your friends have struggled with and it really allows you to step into each character’s story to see adn understand their struggles. It’s just so, so good.
On top of that, this show is amazing because not only is it web-based and produces extra little tidbits like snippets of Facebook conversations, but the community is absolutely lovely. Each week when an episode is released everyone pulls together to provide English captioning and reuploads it for everyone else in the world to give the show a go, and I wouldn’t have been able to watch it without their generous actions.
This is the one series on this list that isn’t fully completed yet (the last season is airing now), but I had to include on this list because there’s no doubt I’ll watch it until the finale. And you should too.
(Thanks to Stacey @ Pretty Books for the recommendation!)
Freaks and Geeks
This was one of those situations where I went in with absolutely no expectations, but ended up surprising myself by how much I enjoyed it. You see, while waiting for the newest season of SKAM to start I really found myself itching for some other high school series to watch. I felt like maybe I was missing out after all this time and should give some a go. I googled “best high school tv series” to see what I could find and out of the few I tried (such as Gossip Girl and Skins), this was the one I actually made it past the first two or three episodes.
Freaks and Geeks is a teen comedy-drama series that actually aired almost two decades ago. It mainly revolves around a sibling pair: Lindsay, who hangs with the freaks and Sam, who hangs with the geeks. The situations that both characters find themselves in are awkward, painful, and funny all at once, and really, isn’t that what being a teen in high school is all about?
Plus, there are a lot of recognizable actors/actresses in this show which are fun to try and spot while watching. James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jason Segel, Ben Stiller, Shia LaBeouf – those are just a few of the faces I recognized while watching (and the first three are main characters in the series). Watching the younger versions of these well-known actors is a lot of fun and makes it all the more sad that the show only lasted one season.
While the shows above were the first ones that came to my mind while drawing my art and writing this post, I do have a couple other shows that I want to give a small mention to:
- Riverdale – I’ve only recently started watching this (I think I’m on episode 5?) and while it’s not one of those shows that I give my whole attention to while watching (I tend to draw during it), I have enjoyed it so far. I like that there’s some mystery woven into the series and the characters are a lot of fun (though I definitely don’t think Archie belongs in high school. I may have missed something but no guys at my school looked like that).
- The Inbetweeners – Dave introduced me to this series when I visited the UK for the first time and I’m not going to lie: I thought it was hilarious. The things that happen in this show are just so, so wrong. But you know how it is, sometimes when things are so bad they’re actually so good. Warning though, make sure you watch the UK version if you give this show a go. The US one sucks.
Your turn! What are you favorite high school series to watch? Are there any I didn’t include that you think I should absolutely give a go? Any that I mentioned that you’re sort of “meh” about? Let me know in the comments below!