Aoife – Gossip Girl
While the boys may have scoffed at my choice of Grey’s Anatomy last issue, I still managed to cruise to victory in the polls once again because nobody cares about medicine and everybody cares about drama. If there is one thing Gossip Girl has going for it, it is drama, and it is the drama in ‘teen drama’ that we’re looking for.
Before the end of the first series there had been an attempted suicide, an attempted rape, drug addiction, a threesome, an eating disorder, a pregnancy scare, a divorce and a proposal for marriage, not to mention lost virginities, a near-fatal accident, several incidents of breaking-and-entering and more blackmail than you thought possible. The drama is still on-going in Season Five.
More than that however, Gossip Girl takes teen dramas into the twenty-first century, rather than just rehashing a format that’s been around since the dawn of time – it’s a show about a blog where teenagers stalk each other with smartphones, and it is almost solely watched on the internet by its viewers.
As silly as the premise may sound, it still manages to act effectively as social satire, offering a better insight into the life of the uber-wealthy and class warfare than reality shows such as The Hills ever could. The fact that the characters are such caricatures makes it easy to guiltlessly indulge in.
Also, the cast is the hottest on TV; it’s ridiculous.
George Morahan – The OC
The OC was the teen drama that had its cake and ate it too. It was about beautiful people, living in elite neighbourhoods, viewing jobs and education as mere distractions from the day to-day toil of the ever-burgeoning scandal that was consuming their lives, but it also had Seth Cohen.
Seth was a strange boy; he liked comic books, sailing and owned a toy horse called Captain Oates – he didn’t fit in. In other words, he was the perfect entry point for the less illustrious viewer and brought enough self-consciousness to the show to help us with our suspension of disbelief as drug overdoses, sexual experimentation and overly complex family trees became part and parcel of life in Orange County.
Obviously, the show took a huge nosedive in its later seasons and, in retrospect, all Seth really did was say ‘graphic novel’ a few times to prove his geek credentials, but at the time, that didn’t matter – Seth was one of us and every dramatic or implausible cliff-hanger felt absolutely vital, even Marissa seemed more than just a pretty face who could barely read her lines in a convincing manner. Either way, The OC is the best teen drama, because it embraced its absurdity, but made it a bit more palpable to your average, boring teenager, who didn’t have a pill addiction or new sexual orientation every month.
Dermot O’Rourke – Saved by the Bell
Teen dramas are the worst type of shows on television. So there, Aoife, I said it. They’re even worse than the much maligned medical dramas discussed in the last round. All of them are Grey’s Anatomy minus the only semi-redeemable part – the medicine. Not only do all teen dramas have the glossiest of glossy actors – comically passing off as teenagers – the melodramatic storylines are just well, really dull.
However, if you are inclined for some teen drama action there is one show worth watching: Saved by the Bell.
Not a teen drama you say? More like a situation comedy with teens in a school and some relationship drama thrown in for good measure you say? Trying to win some votes with nostalgia you say? Well, they may be some valid points, but you would be wrong. Saved by the Bell has got it all: a group of close friends who are balls deep in both gossip and each other, and relationships that always end with some shocking revelations. Looking for a McHandsome with a sensitive side? A.C. Slater is your man – star athlete jock who is also a proficient dancer. And romance? Look no further than the Zack and Kelly will-they-won’t-they relationship that gripped an entire generation.
Saved by the Bell may not have been the “standard” teen drama, like The O.C. or Gossip Girl, but there is really only one reason for that: it was actually entertaining.
Jon Hozier-Byrne – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
You know what isn’t as good as Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Literally every other teen drama (with the possible exception of Saved By The Bell, which, to be fair, will probably get my support when this goes to a Facebook vote). Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the only legitimately funny, exciting, and psycologically taut teen drama, and it deserves your vote (please disregard what I just said about the excellent Zack Morris vehicle, and just go with me on this one).
The genius of Buffy wasn’t just the witty, authentic teenage vernacular, but the subtle symbolism envisioned by creator Joss Whedon when pitching the original supernatural teen drama. Each monster, delivered weekly unto the denizens of Sunnydale High, represented a real world teenage ‘issue’, personified through the optics of a schlocky horror film. From the quest for physical perfection symbolised by a witchcraft-practising mother swapping bodies with her cheerleader daughter, or brimming teenage sexuality personified through a come-hither biology teacher who also just happens to be a giant praying mantis.
Sure, Buffy has its fair share of self-important monologues and brooding teenage angst, but at the very least, that same nonsense you’ll find in every teen drama is contrasted against giant sexy praying mantis women. Take that, Gossip Girl.