Favorite Teen TV Shows of All Time – IndieWire Critics Survey

IndieWire | 6/25/2019 | Staff
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This week’s question: What is your favorite teen show of all time? Why?

I presume like many others, my favorite teen show is heavily swayed by when I saw it — so while “Friday Night Lights” is inarguably a better series, my favorite is “The O.C.” While Ryan Atwood was fighting his way into Orange County’s good graces, I was wading through the awkward social structures of a small Midwestern high school, and despite the incredible disparity in wealth, each crush, dance, and trip around the ferris wheel rang all the truer. The setting made for impossibly high melodrama, as parents lost millions and teens took trips to Hollywood to do shots with Paris Hilton, but the smaller, intimate moments between friends resonated just as they were intended to: universally. Plus, what angry teen doesn’t want to be live out their cage-fighting fantasies through the safe escape of TV? What? Just me?

Charles - Donalson - III - America - Me

Charles Donalson III in “America to Me”

“The Wire” or “America to Me.” From the block kids through the first few seasons to the middle schoolers who serve as the heart (and brain and spine and several other organs and whatnot) in the fourth season, “The Wire” was always 50 different remarkable TV shows at once and at least one of those shows was a sensitive and thoughtful show about teens. On the non-fiction side, Starz’s criminally underwatched “America to Me” was like the “14 Up” installment of Michael Apted’s seminal “Up” documentary series extended to 10 provocative hours that, like “The Wire,” are about almost every imaginable teenage experience.

Daria

“Daria”

My all-time favorite teen show? MTV’s “Daria.” I still reference it, was formatively shaped by it, and occasionally get that gnarly “You’re Standing on My Neck” rift stuck in my head. “Daria” so perfectly captured high school ennui in smart, wry ways;...
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