The early 2000s were the golden era of the teen drama, but there is a lot more to binge, even years later (Image via
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The early 2000s were the golden era of the teen drama, but there is a lot more to binge, even years later (Image via

These memorable TV series will do more than trigger your nostalgia; prepare to get addicted.

During the time of dresses over jeans and bad hair decisions, teen dramas like “One Tree Hill” and “The O.C.” were the hottest shows to tune in to. Now in 2018, these series have become the classic definition of what it means to be considered a part of this ever-growing genre.

However, these weren’t the only teen dramas that deserve a huge fan base. The early to late-2000s slept on these four amazing shows and it’s about time that everyone woke up.

“October Road”

What’s it about: After Nick Garrett left his hometown to explore the world like his deceased mother wanted him too, he disappeared from his family and his childhood girlfriend’s life. 10 years later, he is forced to go home and face the people he left behind.

While he’s back in Knight’s Ridge, he sees how hard it has been on his family to not have him there. Also, Nick is faced with the possibility that he could have a son. Knowing all of this, he decides to stay and try to fix what he broke so long ago.

Who’s in it: As the lead of this teen drama, Bryan Greenberg got to step away from this secondary role as Jake in “One Tree Hill.” He has now appeared in many independent films and even played Mindy Kaling’s husband in “The Mindy Project.” In everything Greenberg is in, he brings a charm and gentlemanliness that viewers can’t help but love.

Laura Prepon, best known for Donna from “That 70s Show” and Alex from “Orange is the New Black,” plays Nick Garrett’s high school girlfriend, Hannah. While this role is very different than her other roles, Prepon brought energy to this teen drama and gave a great portrayal of a young mom.

Why it shouldn’t be slept on: Due to it airing at the peak of “One Tree Hill,” “October Road” had a hard time standing out. However, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great teen drama. This show had everything an audience could have wanted: love triangles and unexpected romances that everyone roots for.

A smart, sassy kid that speaks what we are all thinking. Cute small-town events that we all want to go to. To top it all off, friendships that stand the test of time. Lovers of teen dramas should give this show a try, it won’t disappoint.


What’s it about: Liz Parker’s life gets turned on its head when Max Evans miraculously heals her gunshot wound. Though Max, Isabell, his sister and Michael, their best friend, seem like normal teenagers, Liz finds out they are actually aliens.

They become form a rag-tag group who try to keep their secret safe while simultaneously trying to figure out exactly who they are. Along the way, there are romances and mishaps but no matter what, they stick together.

Who’s in it: Shiri Appleby, who plays Liz, now stars in the Lifetime show “UnReal,” Also, she will actually appear again on this list. Time and time again, she delivers memorable performances. Everyone needs to watch the amazing show that jumpstarted Appleby’s career.

You can spot Appleby in romantic comedies like “27 Dresses” and TV dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy.” Even though you think you know everything she’s been in, Katherine Heigl played Isabell Evans in this teen drama, which was her first TV role. Heigl continues to have a great career, but her role as this teen alien stands out thanks to how she portrays the complicated Isabell.

Living in the shadow of one the greats, Colin Hanks’ performance as quirky Alex shows viewers he has what it takes to have a wonderful career. Now, Hanks has moved away from teen dramas and stars in the comedy-drama “Life in Pieces.”

Though the name Nick Wechsler may not sound familiar, his role as Kyle in this teen drama wasn’t the last of his acting career. He went on to star in ABC’s “Revenge” as the beloved Jack Porter.

Why it shouldn’t be slept on: The entire show, audiences feel everything the characters experience and are dying to know the secrets of these lovable aliens. Viewers get sucked into the romance and drama while only wanting the best for these characters.

In fact, someone experienced firsthand how special this teen drama is and decided to reboot it. This will give “Roswell” a second chance to wow the public and get it the love it deserves with the help of “Pretty Little Liars” alumni, Tyler Blackburn. Though this was only partly aired in the early 2000s, “Roswell” was so too good to not be on this list. 


What’s it about: During her time in a teen detention center, Kris volunteers with horses and falls in love with these beautiful creatures. A local horse trainer, Pablo, decides to let her work with him on a ranch. Though this is a dream come true, she now has to deal with the family who in charge of the ranch, the Ritters, and local teenagers.

Who’s in it: Unlike the other shows on this list, many of the actors haven’t been a part of big projects. This might be why no one has really heard of it. However, Genevieve Cortese, the lead of “Wildfire,” gained a recurring role in “Supernatural” as Ruby alongside her husband, Jared Padalecki.

Why it shouldn’t be slept on: Some of the best aspects of teen dramas appear in this show. For example, throughout its run, Kris is stuck in a love triangle that doesn’t fully get solved until the end.

On top of this, the parents experience the same or even more drama than their kids, which has become the biggest stereotype in this TV genre. “Wildfire” no doubt inspired the semi-popular “Heartland,” So, that indicates just how much this show has to offer.

“Life Unexpected”

What’s it about: Lux Cassidy lived her whole life in and out of terrible foster homes and wants to be emancipated. To be able to do this, she has to find her parents and have them sign away their rights.

Her parents, Baze and Cate, have their lives turn upside down when the kid they gave up as teenagers pops back up. The judge decides Lux would do better under their care and now Baze and Cate have to fit parenting into their busy, separate lives.

Who’s in it: The fiery Lux Cassidy is played by Britt Robertson. She has starred alongside George Clooney in “Tomorrowland” and has also held a lead role in the Netflix Original show “Girl Boss.” Robertson definitely has proven she is a great actress and her talent definitely helps make “Life Unexpected” a great teen drama.

The favorite from “Roswell,” Shiri Appleby, delivers an amazing performance as a young mom trying to figure out how to parent and still have a life. Her charisma that was seen in “Roswell” carried over into this amazing show.

Fans of teen dramas may recognize Ryan, Cate’s fiancé, or Kerr Smith. In the ’90s, he played Jack McPhee who was one of the first openly gay characters and the first male actor to kiss another guy on the small screen. “Life Unexpected” gives audiences a chance to see another side of Smith’s acting skills.

Why it shouldn’t be slept on: Although “Life Unexpected” aired later than the other teen dramas on this list, the show was cut short and tends to fly under the radar these days. Similar to newer teen dramas, this show discusses serious life situations, like the realities of foster care, teacher-student relationships and the ups and downs of parenting.

Viewers will laugh, cry and root for these characters, because there is something in this show that everyone can relate to. This show hits the mark so much as a teen drama, “One Tree Hill,” the epitome of this genre, crossed over into the “Life Unexpected” world. To experience all that this program has to offer, go to Netflix and start binging this underrated CW show.

Even though it may seem like there are too many shows and not enough time, these forgotten teen dramas are worth squeezing into any TV agenda. With all the great acting and writing in these series, you absolutely will not regret binging them.

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Ana Greening

Texas State University

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