Like high school dramas? Watch these three series now.

Now, I don’t generally seek out high school series to watch on TV or Netflix. They’re like contemporary reads for me: they’re okay, just not my cup of tea. But out of the ones I have attempted to watch over the years, these are the few that I’ve managed to watch from beginning to end. The best of the best from a person who has no real qualifications to determine such a thing.

You should watch them.

Glee

I was in LOVE with Glee while it was airing. Though it played on stereotypes and didn’t lack any amount of cheese, I appreciated this drama/comedy because in many ways it reflected my high school experience: everyone stuck to their own groups (I was mostly in the “freaks/misfits” group) and the drama was absolutely ridiculous.

Of course, I wasn’t in a glee club so couldn’t quite connect to those experiences on the show, but I do thoroughly enjoy music and there was rarely an episode I watched where I didn’t sing and laugh along with the characters. (And oftentimes I would even listen to the soundtracks online after.) Musical tv? I’m not sold on the concept, but for some reason this show worked for me.

I even got so excited about this series that I actually bought third-row tickets to see Glee in concert. I took my mom along and the entire show she couldn’t help but laugh at my ridiculous amount of excitement. But hey, these guys are performers! I was watching them do their thing outside of my TV! It was magic!

That being said, there’s a reason that I only included the DVDs for Seasons 1-4 in this photo: once the squad leaves high school, the series sort of falls apart for me. I still watched every episode until the end, but it just wasn’t the same. (Add what happened to Cory and yeah, way too much heartbreak.)

Illustration of Glee characters by Asti Stenning

SKAM

This is my most recent fav and one I feel like I need to encourage everyone to watch now before the US ruins it with their adaptation that is in the works. SKAM is a Norwegian teen drama series that primarily revolves around a close-knit group of friends (mainly the five girls pictured above) and I think it’s the most realistic and important teen series I’ve ever seen.

Each season focuses on a different character and their personal struggles, including everything from relationship difficulties, eating disorders, sexual assault, coming out, mental health issues, religion, feelings of belonging… It’s just all there. Even if you haven’t been through it any of it yourself, you may recognize these as issues your friends have struggled with and it really allows you to step into each character’s story to see adn understand their struggles. It’s just so, so good.

On top of that, this show is amazing because not only is it web-based and produces extra little tidbits like snippets of Facebook conversations, but the community is absolutely lovely. Each week when an episode is released everyone pulls together to provide English captioning and reuploads it for everyone else in the world to give the show a go, and I wouldn’t have been able to watch it without their generous actions.

This is the one series on this list that isn’t fully completed yet (the last season is airing now), but I had to include on this list because there’s no doubt I’ll watch it until the finale. And you should too.

(Thanks to Stacey @ Pretty Books for the recommendation!)

Illustration of the characters from SKAM by Asti Stenning

Freaks and Geeks

This was one of those situations where I went in with absolutely no expectations, but ended up surprising myself by how much I enjoyed it. You see, while waiting for the newest season of SKAM to start I really found myself itching for some other high school series to watch. I felt like maybe I was missing out after all this time and should give some a go. I googled “best high school tv series” to see what I could find and out of the few I tried (such as Gossip Girl and Skins), this was the one I actually made it past the first two or three episodes.

Freaks and Geeks is a teen comedy-drama series that actually aired almost two decades ago. It mainly revolves around a sibling pair: Lindsay, who hangs with the freaks and Sam, who hangs with the geeks. The situations that both characters find themselves in are awkward, painful, and funny all at once, and really, isn’t that what being a teen in high school is all about?

Plus, there are a lot of recognizable actors/actresses in this show which are fun to try and spot while watching. James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jason Segel, Ben Stiller, Shia LaBeouf – those are just a few of the faces I recognized while watching (and the first three are main characters in the series). Watching the younger versions of these well-known actors is a lot of fun and makes it all the more sad that the show only lasted one season.

Illustration of the characters from Freaks and Geeks by Asti Stenning

Honorable Mentions

While the shows above were the first ones that came to my mind while drawing my art and writing this post, I do have a couple other shows that I want to give a small mention to:

  • Riverdale – I’ve only recently started watching this (I think I’m on episode 5?) and while it’s not one of those shows that I give my whole attention to while watching (I tend to draw during it), I have enjoyed it so far. I like that there’s some mystery woven into the series and the characters are a lot of fun (though I definitely don’t think Archie belongs in high school. I may have missed something but no guys at my school looked like that).
  • The Inbetweeners – Dave introduced me to this series when I visited the UK for the first time and I’m not going to lie: I thought it was hilarious. The things that happen in this show are just so, so wrong. But you know how it is, sometimes when things are so bad they’re actually so good. Warning though, make sure you watch the UK version if you give this show a go. The US one sucks.

Let’s Chat

Your turn! What are you favorite high school series to watch? Are there any I didn’t include that you think I should absolutely give a go? Any that I mentioned that you’re sort of “meh” about? Let me know in the comments below!

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13 thoughts on “Like high school dramas? Watch these three series now.

  1. I used to love Glee! (only watched it pre-graduation though, but heard it went downhill at the end…).
    Riverdale! I quite like that one too.
    And I guess it’s sort of high school, so I have to mention – Teen Wolf (Stiles is just the best!!)

    1. Teen Wolf. I feel like I’ve heard only good things, but the name itself has always put me off. Like, I’m not a werewolf person. Is it really tacky or is the supernatural aspect not that bad. (It’s the same thing for me with Vampire Diaries. I could never watch that just because I’m not huge into the supernatural shows.)

      And yes, good choice only watching Glee pre-graduation. Don’t get me wrong, it still had its moments after, but it was never quite the same.

  2. My mother was HUGE on Glee right up until the end (for which I mercilessly teased her, haha — she’s the most badass, heart-of-steel person I know & yet I could regularly find her sobbing at the television over the fate of those characters). I think I might have to abandon my high horse to watch it, though, if you found it so good! The other shows I unfortunately have not heard of, but they have been added to my monstrously long to-watch list. I’ll also add to the Teen Wolf recommendation above – that show is nerdy & campy & yet so, so good. Thank you so much for sharing these recs, Asti ❤

    1. Ooh these Teen Wolf recommendations, I was not expecting them! Tbh, I’ve always been put off of even giving it a chance because I’m not one for supernatural shows, but it does seem like I’ve only heard good things so maybe I should get off MY high horse and watch that. We can do a trade. You watch Glee and I watch Teen Wolf. And then we see if we can understand the other person’s rec or think they’re crazy. 😉

  3. I loved Glee for quite a few seasons! But Finn was my favorite, so…yeah. Did I ever tell you that the actor who played Blaine went to my college? We had mutual Facebook friends. 😂

    I haven’t heard of SKAM, but now I really want to watch it. Is it just online?

    Freaks and Geeks is one I’ve been meaning to watch, so I’m glad it has the Asti stamp of approval. Are the episodes 40 or 20 minutes?

    1. Oh, I forgot to mention the shows I’ve seen. I did watch the OC, but not until study abroad. Did you ever watch it? I actually really enjoyed it, which is a little embarrassing.

      My favorite high school show is Friday Night Lights. If you can even call it that? Anyway, I have no idea how a show about football in Texas can be so good, but I LOVED it.

    2. Haha no, I did not know the actor of Blaine went to your college, how fun. The only “celebrity” connection I have here is that Adam Driver, the new Star Wars villain, went to my high school. But he was there during the time my brothers were and they weren’t friends or anything so nothing too exciting there.

      But yeah, Finn. So heartbreaking.

      Yes, SKAM is online. They actually release each episode on a website, if I remember correctly, but the fans download the file, create captions for it, and upload them to Google Drive for us English speakers to watch. That’s how I’ve watched all the seasons so far! (http://skam-online.tumblr.com/episodes)

      Freaks and Geeks episodes are around 40 mins each, but it is just the one season so I think I binged it all in two or three days. 🙂

      I DID watch the OC, but only a couple episodes and I don’t remember any of it? I think I liked it okay, but I couldn’t be bothered to remember to watch it every week and often turned to my crappy reality shows instead. 😛

      Friday Night Lights – That’s another show that’s been on a bunch of lists for high school teen series recommendations. I guess I was put off of even giving it a chance because of the football connection. I mean, not that I hate football or anything, just didn’t care to watch a show about it. But if you LOVED it, then maybe I should watch a couple episodes and see what I think.

      1. That’s still really cool!

        Thanks, I’ve bookmarked the Skam site! Now I just need to convince Sebastian to watch that and Freaks and Geeks with me. xD

        I don’t like football, my parents hate football, and three of us were completely obsessed with the show. I definitely think you should give it a try!

  4. I happen to enjoy watching high school tv series as well, which is weird cos I’m totally not in high school.

    Haha did you know that Archie is a New Zealand actor, is only 19, and is Maori? He can pull off looking Caucasian but cos I know he’s not it’s weird to me! It’s unfair cos I didn’t know how old he was when I started watching and then when I realized I totally felt like a cougar. However, Chris Hemsworths wife is 7 years older than him. So there’s that right? Lol… I love Cheryl in the show! She looks like such a fun character to play.

    I used to love Glee simply for the singing. But I always wanted more of a story within the seasons. Also, sooo much cheese ha but it was enjoyable.

    I also remember enjoying Popular when it was on, but then I don’t really remember it a lot so I don’t actually know if it’s good.

    1. Haha, wait, we have to be in high school to enjoy such series? I hope not! Otherwise the fact that I enjoy so many trashy reality shows will make me question what that says about me… I like to believe what we watch is all escapism and has no real reflection on who we are 😉

      Whaaaaa? He’s only 19? Is it bad that blows my mind just as much as the Maori thing? Because wow, I really do not have any experience with teens looking like that, haha. I think we get a cougar pass because it’s not our fault he’s so deceiving (and he IS legal, so we have that working in our favor), haha. And yes, the math is perfect. I actually had a huge crush on Johnny Depp as a teen and he’s like… 26 years older than me? So you know, I think you’re okay.

      Haha, Glee definitely delivered on the cheese. And I get what you mean about the story. I am just easily satisfied by songs and dance.

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Popular! The only other teen series I could think to include in my list were like… Saved by the Bell, haha.

  5. The illustrations are so adorable!! And now you make me want to check out SKAM – especially for the setting! Having grown up in Europe and since moved to Korea, American high schools in tv series are so strange to me, especially since I can’t compare them to any real-life experience. Like, where do the cliches start and reality end? No idea! 🙂

    Also, I can barely watch anything without at least doodling on the side. Now I want to make some House of Cards sketches since my husband has been marathoning that…

    1. Oh yes, definitely check out SKAM! So good! And the last season is airing now so if you get really into it you can binge it all at once 😀 That’s interesting about American high school tv series being so strange to you – I’ve never quite thought about how different it may be for schools in other countries.

      Haha, I actually just finished binging House of Cards yesterday. It’s interesting though because though I doodle while watching shows, I rarely doodle what I’m watching. Like the images above, I only doodled them after I was done watching. I wonder if I could actually doodle something while watching it – like draw a character while he/she is moving around. Might be an interesting challenge to try for myself!

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