I’m a 20-something addicted to teen shows, and I’m not ashamed to admit it

As a teenager, I couldn’t wait to be in my twenties. I’d soak up television shows about college life and adulthood because I wanted nothing more than to be that girl who was cool, calm, and collected with a wardrobe that would make even Clueless‘ Cher and Dionne jealous. However, now, I’ve reached my threshold for any kind of media regarding the livelihood of 20-somethings. What used to be comforting has now hit a little too close to home.

That’s why I’ve turned back to teen shows. Stay with me here. I know I’m 22 and have graduated high school—and college, for that matter—but these teen show are giving me life right now. They help me stay optimistic in the slump of my twenties because they remind me of how enterprising I was as a teenager. There’s an invincible magic to teenagers that seems to wane once we hit our twenties. But teen tv is inspiring me to reclaim that magic in the midst of attempting to prove to my doubters that my liberal arts degree is going to be useful…eventually. Here are some of my go-to’s I like to watch in between figuring out my life:

The Carrie Diaries

So my sixteen year-old sister put me on to this one recently. As a fan of SATC, I was a little skeptical of a prequel so I added it to my Netflix queue, quite begrudgingly. Was I ever wrong. I am nine episodes deep now and I’d be completely finished if I didn’t have silly things like my job and other miscellaneous adult responsibilities to get in the way. High school Carrie Bradshaw loves to write and knows exactly what she wants out of life. The Carrie Diaries is reassuring because I’m reminded of why I decided to major in writing. It’s so easy to forget why I went into this field when writing jobs seem to be so scarce, but Anna Sophia Robb’s very convincing–I mean, she even has the inflections of Sarah Jessica Parker’s voice down—portrayal of Carrie helps put things into perspective.

Freaks and Geeks

This classic must-watch highlights how we all get to be Christopher Columbus in high school. Meaning, we all get to ‘discover’ things that already exist but are brand-new to us. Lindsay discovers the Grateful Dead, Nick discovers disco, and Daniel even finds himself in his first-ever game of Dungeons and Dragons at the end of the series. High School is exciting because this is the period when teens begin to reassess their personalities and latch on to new interests, as a result. Freaks and Geeks captures this special time in the most entertaining and endearing of ways. Watching it now, it makes me want to return to this time of endless discovery.

Dawson’s Creek

Ah, Dawsons’ Creek. A show where a bunch of kids philosophize about love and life using one too many SAT vocabulary words. What’s impressive about this particular set of teens is that they were scarily in tune with their emotions and I still look to certain episodes when my 20-something love life (or lack thereof) has gone awry. I’ve also come to accept the fact that I will forever be a Joey despite how much I always wanted to be a Jen. Upon re-watching, though, I’m recognizing that Joey was actually pretty bad ass too. I mean, she did end up with my preferred Capeside boy in the end. I won’t spoil anyone who might be binge-watching the series, but I’m willing to bet we’re all on the same page on that front.

Gilmore Girls

If we could have spirit-shows the way we assign spirit-animals, this would be mine. While, I’ll admit that I probably relate more to Lorelai, I grew up alongside Rory—thanks to the power of television syndication–and it’s nice to go back to old episodes to see how far we’ve both come. There’s something comforting about the show following Rory from the beginning of high school through the end of college, and then stopping right as she is about to begin her adult life. It ends on an optimistic note. Going back through old episodes, I get to revisit that feeling of anything seeming possible. It makes my current state of uncertainty appear more temporary than permanent.


The last class of Degrassi Community School tossed their graduation caps into the air last month as the series came to an official close. While most people stopped following the ever-dramatic lives of these Canadian teens after folks like Drake dipped out, I kept coming back for more. This series managed to cover every teen issue under the sun, but what was more impressive was its ability to wrap these issues up by the end of each episode. Sometimes it took a two-parter, but there’s a soothing quality to how things always worked out once the credits rolled. It made my problems then, and now, seem conquerable. Sure, I may be dealing with bills and roommates these days instead of homework and classmates, but the same principles still apply.

So when you’re tired of number crunching to make that rent, turn to teen TV. When you’re fed up with the temporary nature of the odd post-grad jobs you pick-up while trying to break into your dream career, turn to teen TV. When those car troubles you’ve been avoiding start to blow up in your face, turn to tv. When in doubt, turn to teen TV.

[Image via Warner Bros.]

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