Remember the MTV of our youth? Where we could catch a boy band made up of mostly full-grown men rhythmically shakin’ it in matching tracksuits. Or during the early 2000s you could overload on reality shows where teens just like you got the chance to be dragged out of their house into an unmarked van while strangers tried to pass judgement on them based on their Paramore poster. Celebrities were terrorized by their closest friends and Ashton Kutcher. It was a glorious time. But even if you aged out of MTV’s teen demographic years ago, they’ve got some new shows worth checking out. (Let’s all just agree to forget the Skins reboot ever happened.)
1. Teen Wolf
No show will ever truly be the new Buffy unless Joss Whedon takes another crack at the supernatural teen genre, but Teen Wolf shares a lot of DNA with the ’90s classic, from the goofy side kick with a lot of heart a la Xander (Dylan O’Brien’s Stiles) to the popular girl turned creature hunter like Cordelia (though Holland Roden’s Lydia has Willow-smarts). The show has done a great job at constantly adding new mythology to back up each new big bad wolf, and unlike Buffy, it throws in parental guidance and support from all angles. The gang’s parents include a nurse, a werewolf hunter, a sheriff and a FBI agent.
A perfect example of a show gracefully outgrowing its initial premise, Awkward debuted as a comedy about a teen whose America’s Funniest Home Videos style accident convinces her parents, teachers and classmates she’s suicidal. She has to get beyond the rumors, and figure out who sent her the anonymous letter that tried to shame her into shaking up her life. Four seasons later with the mystery solved, Awkward is still hilarious, with a great cast of characters and even its own snarky catch phrase: “You’re welcome.”
3. Faking It
At first glance, the premise for Faking It seemed like a particularly cringe-worthy Glee episode. Best friends Karma and Amy pretend to be a lesbian couple to get in with a group of popular gay kids. The show soon surpasses this summary, however, when a kiss makes Amy realize she really is attracted to Karma, who actually has a crush on a guy. The show does a great job at tackling the sometimes blurry lines of sexuality, and has great asides from Game of Thrones references to hipster shade.
4. Finding Carter
The latest MTV drama premieres this week, with a promising trailer and a veteran TV actress (Kathryn Prescott from the original UK Skins and, briefly, Reign) going for it. The show follows Carter, a teen who learns the woman who raised her wasn’t her mother but her kidnapper, and is then reunited with her birth family. The kidnapped kid returned as a teen has been done before in The Face on the Milk Carton and The Deep End of the Ocean, but in those films, the people raising the kidnapped kids had no idea they’d been stolen. It’ll be interesting to see how the lead in Finding Carter reconciles her new knowledge with her memories of the woman she thought was her mother.