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The hottest teen TV shows

2008-09-04 08:53

Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000)

The most famous zip code in the world was home to Brenda, Brandon, Dylan, Kelly, Donna and David who, for 10 years, became friends, lovers and enemies, while trying to get through high school in one piece and resist the pressure to have sex, do drugs and fall in love with the wrong person – which they often did. Beverly Hills 90210 defined 90s pop culture, with its infinitely copied mix of soapy plotlines and a cast not afraid to match purple T-shirts with tie-dyed shorts. 90210 is the granddaddy of teen drama and, unsurprisingly, the show is getting a 21st century reboot later this year with a new cast. Look out for the familiar faces of Jennie Garth (Kelly Taylor) and Shannen Doherty as resident bitch Brenda Walsh, who will be reprising their roles on the new show.

Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003)

Oh, young love. How poetic and dreamy Dawson’s Creek made it all seem. Never before were teenagers portrayed as such intelligent and articulate creatures. Set in the fictional coastal town of Capeside, the show centered around Dawson (James van der Beek), a Steven Spielberg fan who fell in love with his best friend Joey (Katie Holmes) but she ended up falling for Dawson’s wittier, cuter buddy Pacey (Joshua Jackson) who once had an affair with his teacher, while Jen (Michelle Williams) was the mysterious newcomer who captivated them all with her bold sexuality. Dawson’s Creek sometimes made growing up seem like a Noam Chomsky lecture, but the gorgeous locations and earnest characterisation made it unmissable TV.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

In Sunnydale, high school was hell – literally. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) was a "Slayer", one in a long line of young women destined to battle evil forces – but with homework piling up and personal relationships to forge, her life becomes increasingly difficult. Luckily she had her two best friends Willow and Xander and her ever-present "Watcher" Giles to guide her on her treacherous path. Buffy was the blonde chick with a righteous roundhouse kick. The idea for the show came about when creator Joss Whedon noticed that the blonde female character was the first to die in all the horror movies he’d seen, so he decided to make her the heroine of his supernatural action thriller. And the show became a cult classic that spawned a spin-off show Angel, countless novels, comics and fan fiction.

My So-Called Life (1994-1995)

This short-lived but much-loved gem introduced the world to the charms of Claire Danes (who played Angela Chase) and then-teen heartthrob Jared Leto. Through her deeply introspective voice-over narrative, audiences were able to climb straight into Angela’s furiously active 15-year-old mind as she philosophised on sex, growing up, friendship and her relationships with the people around her, particularly her mysterious boy-crush, Jordan Catalano. MSCL was also one of the first youth shows to feature a homosexual teenager, Angela’s friend Ricky (Wilson Cruz). This was the angstiest of angst-ridden teen shows and became, for many, the benchmark for intelligent portrayals of teenhood.

The O.C. (2003-2007)

Of course, for every profoundly thoughtful portrayal of adolescence, there has to be one that spends more time strapping on its designer shoes than dealing with the realities of modern life. OK, so maybe The O.C. wasn’t as vacuous as that, but the obscenely good-looking cast and sun-kissed surroundings made it pretty hard for audiences to pay attention to the soap opera dramatics that were unfolding. Ryan was the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who gets a second chance when he is taken in by the fabulously wealthy Cohen family of Newport, California. Just one glance at his new next door neighbour Marissa, and Ryan was smitten. And, of course, there was the quick-witted, geeky Seth Cohen. His many humorous pop culture references and die-hard emo love was a treat, as was his awkward romance with the village kugel, Summer.

Seduction 101 (2008 – )

This new kid on the block is something a little different for the teen who can’t be bothered to stay in on a week night to catch their favourite TV show. Seduction 101 is a mobile soap (or mobisoap) that gets its kicks in daily three- to four-minute episodes you can view on your cellphone or online. The show focuses on a love quadrangle set on campus, and starts off when Jed dares his campus geek Ryan friend to hook-up with resident hottie Zoe – and if Ryan fails, he becomes Jed’s “bitch”. If you’ve missed an episode, not to worry, they can all be viewed on the Seduction 101 website, where you can also read character blogs, download MP3s and win prizes.

Catch Gossip Girl Wednesdays on GO Channel 123 at 18:30

- Shaheema Barodien

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