You don’t need to be in high school to appreciate a great TV drama about teenagers—in fact, sometimes it’s better if you’re long past that ever-dreaded 10-year high school reunion.
That way, it’s easier to appreciate all of the emotional turmoil found in television shows like My So-Called Life and Degrassi. The benefits of distance and experience can elevate already strong shows into cathartic heartbreakers. Think about it—the melancholia of losing a first love is difficult to process when you’re in the moment, but years, even decades, later, the desire to create fake Facebook accounts and stalk your ex is gone, replaced by grown-up wisdom.
Then again, watching characters like Buffy Summers and Angela Chase endure through bad break-ups, parental misunderstandings and other teenager problems makes going through similar dilemmas easier for real-life teenagers.
Those two sides of the equation combined are what give The 25 Best Teen TV Dramas of All Time their undying significance. These are the shows that parents and their kids can watch together and remain on the same emotional playing fields. They can laugh, cry, and want to smack sense into Dawson Leery together.
BONUS: Actress/singer Cassie Steele sat down with Complex to reflect on her days playing Manny Santos on Degrassi: The Next Generation. Check out the video above.