Where Have All The Teen Dramas Gone?

While the era of teen drama television series seems to be coming to a close, there are a few new series popping up to tide over that unexplainable desire. 

Cast of Gossip Girl. Photo credit: The Huffington Post

Fans of Gossip Girl are still trying to find a show that fills the void left behind by the iconic Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf but there’s little currently airing on television that even begins to fill it. 2010 and 2011 seemed to be a peak viewing period for this popular genre but shows end and people have to adjust. While so many teen dramas are melodramatic and extremely shallow, there were a number that were just great television. You know those ones you still secretly watch now, years after they’ve stopped airing…

With Netflix becoming as big as it is, there’s still hope that the next best thing is going to pop up and surprise audiences around the world. Riverdale is currently everyone’s guilty pleasure but even that lacks the ridiculous drama that was seen in previously loved shows like 90210, One Tree Hill and The OC. These newer teen dramas, like Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why are tackling more serious issues than past shows have attempted too. It’s being said that 13 Reasons Why has rejuvenated the genre that’s been on the decline for so long.

Cast of Riverdale. Photo credit: The CW

Before the genre of teen drama was even a thing, most programs that featured teenagers were sitcoms, like That 70s Show. That’s not to say that sitcoms are a thing of the past for teenage oriented shows. Teen dramas typically pick out elements that make sitcoms so popular and adapt then to fit the wide array of sub-genres.

While shows like Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girls were dominant shows in their time, The OC re-popularised the genre in the early 2000s. That and One Tree Hill were focusing on more real life issues than what the answers for the math homework were (let’s pretend Haley didn’t tutor Nathan for a second…). Even though The OC didn’t last as long as a lot of teen drama shows have, the series still left a big impact on the genre.

Gossip Girl and 90210 brought the whole idea of shows about being a teen back into popularity after One Tree Hill finished. After their cancellation, there was a serious lack of any substantial teen drama. Countless shows premiered and tried to gain the same status but most were cancelled after one or two seasons. The Vampire Diaries tried several spin-offs (The Originals and Riverwood) but nothing could live up to the expectation set by the original series.

Cast of The OC. Photo credit: Elle

Unlike the early 2000s, a lot of shows being produced in the last couple of years belong in a sub-genre of teen drama. Popular shows like Teen WolfThe Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars are equal parts fantasy/ crime and teen drama. It’s a combination that teens of today are loving. The failure of The Carrie Diaries proved that teens are more interested in sub-genres than the typical teen drama storyline.

With The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars wrapping up their seven seasons plus runs this year, what’s going to take their place?