Teen dramas aren't just for teens anymore. In 2022, "Euphoria" became HBO's second most-watched series ever, and season 3 of Mindy Kaling's comedy-drama "Never Have I Ever" continued to attract a massive audience of viewers of all ages. The genre simply continues to expand, to the delight of its many fans.

Perhaps teen dramas persist because becoming an adult is a universally complex stage of life. In her book "Teen TV," Dr. Stefania Marghitu writes, "Certain narrative elements present themselves in nearly every teen series: the protagonist feels alienated from the adolescent world she is on the threshold of entering. This conflict is intertwined with a passionate story of first love and new discoveries during the transition from child to adult." Even for viewers who are no longer teens, the thrills, pains, and misunderstandings of youth aren't too difficult to remember.

Some of the best teen dramas on TV are the ones that haven't received enough fanfare. The shows listed here depict a broad range of maturity levels, settings, and family structures for their teen characters, and span time periods from the early '90s to the present day. If you've already seen all the well-known hits, make sure to check them out.

In A Heartbeat (2000-2001)

"In a Heartbeat" is one of the most dramatic shows that has ever aired on the Disney Channel. The half-hour drama begins with an hour-long pilot directed by Shawn Levy, and focuses on four teen EMTs: cheerleader Val Lanier (Reagan Pasternak), football players Hank Beecham (Danso Gordon) and Tyler Connell (Shawn Ashmore), and recovering troublemaker Jamie Waite (Christopher Ralph). "Degrassi" fans will also spot Lauren Collins as Val's sister, Brooke.

Though "In a Heartbeat" only lasted for one season, it is entirely worth watching for the way it balances high school emotions with suspenseful emergency scenarios. As the teens spend their afternoons rescuing community members in danger, they also become closer as a unit of friends. The best part of the whole show is the slow-burn romance between Tyler and Val, who confide in each other about their respective family struggles. Tyler finds his stepfather overbearing, and Val's dad has a heart condition that puts him out of work and requires the family to downsize.

"In a Heartbeat" keeps the stakes high and prioritizes its characters' medical duties. One of the most elaborate rescues involves extracting a girl from a flooded basement. In another episode, Hank (who is typically the group's leader) tries to help a boy recover from the trauma of a previous emergency. If you can handle the stress of the squad's lives, "In a Heartbeat" is not to be missed.

So Weird (1999-2001)

I was a bit too young for the paranormal adventure series "So Weird" when it originally aired, but it's now one of my favorite Disney Channel shows. Fiona Phillips (Cara DeLizia) has a love for everything in life that can't be explained — or can it? Fi opens each episode of "So Weird" with a bit of commentary about whichever supernatural phenomenon will be explored in this installment, whether that's astral projection, ghosts, angels, or trolls who turn their guests into veggies. It's perfectly perplexing and suspenseful every time.

"So Weird" has some of the best (and underappreciated) music in the Disney Channel's history, which is another huge reason to tune in. Fi's mom Molly (Mackenzie Phillips) is a traveling musician who takes Fi and her brother, Jack (Patrick Levis), with her on the road. Phillips sings the show's theme song, "In the Darkness" (lyrics by executive producer Jon Cooksey and music by Annmarie Montade), which has a way of reaching into the viewer's soul: "This girl's walked on fire and ice, but I come out on the other side of paradise."

Consistently ahead of her time, Fi has her own website — remember, this debuted in the late '90s! — where she documents the strange occurrences she runs across and asks friends for advice. The Phillips are joined on their escapades by their family friends the Bells, including sons Clu (Erik von Detten) and Carey (Erik Lively). As "So Weird" progresses, Fi's arc is increasingly devoted to her connection with her deceased father, amplifying the show's spiritual layer before DeLizia's departure at the end of season 2. The third and final season features a new lead, Annie Thelen (Alexz Johnson), who lives with the Phillips family and develops her musical talent while her parents are abroad for work.

Joan Of Arcadia (2003-2005)

"Joan of Arcadia" is another teen drama with big spiritual themes, but it's scarcely remembered two decades after its debut. A play on the story of Joan of Arc, the show centers on teen Joan Girardi (Amber Tamblyn), who begins to communicate with a God who speaks via human forms. Joan's older brother, Kevin (Jason Ritter), is adjusting to work and life in a wheelchair, as he is unable to move his legs after a car accident. Younger brother Luke (Michael Welch) is the studious one, though he is soon joined by Joan in AP chemistry. Their father (Joe Mantegna) is police chief, and their mother (Mary Steenburgen) works at the high school. The tasks God asks Joan to complete end up helping others, and her missions sometimes intersect with her dad's work at the police station.

You don't need to be religious to gain anything from this show, although it may raise some existential questions. The series does show its age at times, particularly when characters take too long to understand that homophobic jokes are bad. However, there's a lot here that's timeless, like the ways that Joan's outsider friends Grace (Becky Wahlstrom) and Adam (Chris Marquette) influence her approach to social groups. After God tells Joan to try out for the cheerleading team — much to her dismay — Adam surprises her with a handmade gift to show his support. He likes her for who she is, not for the clubs or activities she's involved in.

Andi Mack (2017-2019)

"Andi Mack," from "Lizzie McGuire" creator Terri Minsky, provides a refreshing contrast to the comedy programming that has become part of Disney's TV legacy. Andi (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) is a tween who discovers that the people who have been raising her are her grandparents, not her parents, and that the woman who she thought was her sister is actually her mother. Andi's personal life is turned upside down as she gets to know Bex (Lilan Bowden) as a parent instead of a sibling. Through this process, Bex becomes closer to her own mother (Lauren Tom), too.

The surprises continue when Andi meets her dad, Bowie Quinn (Trent Garrett), a touring musician who never stopped loving Bex. The young parents' relationship is just as fulfilling to watch as Andi's daily life with her best friends, Cyrus Goodman (Joshua Rush) and Buffy Driscoll (Sofia Wylie). Andi, Cyrus, and Buffy call themselves "The Good Hair Crew," which reveals their optimistic approach to life. All three characters explore their developing talents, ideas, and romantic interests. Andi also has a complicated relationship with the adorable Jonah Beck (Asher Angel), who deals with anxiety and panic attacks later in the series.

Cyrus was the first Disney Channel character to come out on-screen, and the show won a GLAAD Media Award in 2018. Lee is perfectly earnest in the role of Andi and makes the character's feelings accessible, confirming that it's hard to grow up amid changing family structures and friendships.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Jane By Design (2012)

ABC Family was a hot destination for teen dramas like "Pretty Little Liars," "Switched at Birth," "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," and "Make It or Break It." But it was "Jane by Design" that made me tune in as a senior in high school. Jane Quimby (Erica Dasher) has her eyes set on an internship with New York fashion house Donovan Decker. She accidentally interviews for a job as executive assistant to top designer Gray Chandler Murray (Andie MacDowell), and Jane gets the gig. As a teenager with a salary, Jane can help her brother and guardian Ben (David Clayton Rogers) make ends meet, but she doesn't want him to find out she's rubbing elbows with Betsey Johnson and Christian Siriano.

Secretly working a full-time job while in high school is no easy feat. Gray is one demanding boss, and co-worker India Jordain (India de Beaufort) might just be worse than the mean girl at school. Though Jane's workplace romances with older men are entirely inappropriate, she does have some flirtations with guys her own age, despite not being too popular among her peers. When asked about sparks between Jane and her best friend Billy (Nick Roux), series creator April Blair told the New York Post, "…I know in my heart that they're meant to be together — he's the one. … I always say, 'They're like Sam and Diane!'"

Unfortunately, "Jane by Design" didn't have much time for "Cheers" references, as it only lasted for one season. But true fans won't forget Quimby's portrayal of quirky Jane, a girl who cut the tension of the teen drama with her fun, fluttery style.

All American (2018-Present)

Another April Blair creation, "All American," premiered in 2018 and, at the time of this writing, is still going strong. Though it led The CW in the 18-49 demographic by late 2022, that wasn't always the case. In 2020, Adweek noted that "All American" had low ratings for its first two seasons, but benefitted from streaming on Netflix. This certainly is a binge-worthy show, and an important one.

In the drama, which is based on the true story of champion NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger, Spencer James (Daniel Ezra) leaves his local high school in South Los Angeles to play football in Beverly Hills. Per ESPN, the show's creative team focused on Spencer as "an outsider in two worlds." He feels a responsibility towards those in his own neighborhood, but his future depends on his performance on a field miles away. Spencer lives with Coach Billy Baker (Taye Diggs) during the school week, and returns to his home in Crenshaw on weekends. The show covers sexuality, racism, violence, and class differences, and has serious edges right out of the gate, as Spencer's best friend Coop (Bre-Z) becomes enmeshed in local gangs.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, "All American" showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll said of adolescence, "When you're that age, everything feels like life and death. … The hormones and the emotions and high stake-ness of teen years, that's gold. You can't manufacture that stuff." Unsurprisingly for a CW show, many of the teenagers are portrayed by actors in their 20s (and, now, 30s). The high schoolers eventually graduate and go to college, and the series has a spin-off called "All American: Homecoming," also run by Carroll.

Fifteen (1991-1993)

Looking for a soapy teen series with rad '90s sweaters? "Fifteen" is a good option that flew under the radar. The series aired in Canada as "Hillside" but was known to Nickelodeon viewers in the U.S. as "Fifteen." As Decider's Brett White noted, "Compared to its popular American-made contemporaries 'Clarissa Explains It All' and the short-lived 'Salute Your Shorts,' shows that also debuted on Nick in 1991, 'Fifteen' is a lost artifact of a very definitive era." The show draws viewers into the rather serious romantic relationships of its characters, who deal with issues like underage alcoholism and parents who get divorced. Though most of the scenes are set at school, these kids never seem to be in class.

No, the acting isn't great, but seeing superstar Ryan Reynolds in his first role is worth the melodramatic moments and over-exaggerated, scheming mean girls (that Brooke is insufferable). Reynolds had to tell Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan about playing Billy when they ran a clip of "Fifteen" in 2016. After mouthing "Oh my God" twice, Reynolds revealed that he didn't like acting back then, and that he co-starred in "Fifteen" for $150 per episode while also working as a paperboy.

With all those heart-to-hearts at the soda shop and the well-placed cliffhangers, you might find yourself wanting to know what'll happen "next time, on 'Fifteen!'"

Flight 29 Down (2005-2007)

Upon its release, The New York Times noted that "Flight 29 Down" was akin to "Lost" and "Lord of the Flies," given that the show's teen characters are stranded on an island, trying to stay alive until they are rescued. As a kid, I didn't realize that the writers and producers behind well-known Disney and Nickelodeon shows were also working with Discovery Kids. "Flight 29 Down" was created by Stan Rogow, executive producer of "Lizzie McGuire," and D.J. MacHale, bestselling author and "Are You Afraid of the Dark" co-creator. MacHale even won a Writers Guild Award for the "Flight 29 Down" season 2 premiere, "Look Who's Not Talking."

In addition to these accomplished creators, the cast features Disney Channel Original Movie stars Johnny Pacar, Hallee Hirsch, and "High School Musical"-era Corbin Bleu. These actors and their co-stars blend dramatic portrayals with mockumentary-like moments that capture their characters' daily struggles. Bleu and Hirsch's characters, Nathan and Daley, start off clashing over leadership, but soon begin to soften toward one another.

Speaking about the characters from his successful shows, Stan Rogow told The New York Times, "Depending on the day, you're a teenager who wants to be an adult, but also you want to be a kid. I try to speak to these moments of transition." Imagine going through such a change while stuck on a beach with limited resources and no way home. If survivor stories aren't your favorite, this probably isn't for you, but if teens finding food and water and creating a temporary island home together sounds appealing, then "Flight 29 Down" is a good choice for your next watch.

The Famous Jett Jackson (1998-2001)

On "The Famous Jett Jackson," the late Lee Thompson Young played the title character, a charismatic actor who relocates from Los Angeles back to Wilsted, North Carolina. Jett's parents are divorced, so he lives with his father, Sheriff Wood Jackson (Gordon Greene), and his grandmother, Miz Coretta (Montrose Hagins). His show-within-a-show, "Silverstone," is filmed right in Jett's hometown, so he can keep up with his studies and hang out with his best friends, J.B. (Ryan Sommers Baum) and Kayla (Kerry Duff). Early episodes are sometimes light on the drama, focused on everyday problems or mysteries in Jett's "normal" life. Jett and his friends uncover a couple of crooks who steal and resell tractors; they catch a classmate who is selling tabloid photos of Jett; Jett gives Shakespeare a try; and he fends off a fan who wins a contest to spend a day with him.

As Broadway performer Patrick Clanton notes in his excellent history of the series on YouTube, later stories wove in important issues, including racism, ageism, and eating disorders. Rising stars of the time appeared throughout the show's run, including Andy Lawrence, Britney Spears, Beyoncé and Destiny's Child, Rachel McAdams, and Usher.

"The Famous Jett Jackson" is currently owned by WildBrain and does not stream on Disney+, to the sadness and frustration of the show's fans. Young's sister said in a statement to What's on Disney Plus that the actor's loved ones are "fine with the show being streamed," and the Lee Thompson Young Foundation has looked into the matter. Here's hoping that the Disney Channel classic can reach a wider audience soon.

Party Of Five (1994-2000)

For such a fantastic teen drama, "Party of Five" doesn't get nearly enough attention. A 2020 reboot with a new cast came and went. Even in the '90s, the original show wasn't quite like its contemporaries. "At the time, Fox was known for attractive people doing salacious things, that kind of vibe. And here came this weepy family drama," Scott Wolf, who played Bailey Salinger, remarked to Vulture.

It's a teen drama that is also a family drama, simply because most of the family is made up of teens and young adults. Bailey and his younger siblings, Julia (Neve Campbell), Claudia (Lacey Chabert), and baby Owen (played by several kids) are in the care of their eldest brother, Charlie (Matthew Fox), after their parents' tragic death in an automobile accident. The series had a rocky start and teetered on the edge of cancellation more than once, but ultimately won a Golden Globe in 1996. TV Guide called it "The Best Show You're Not Watching,"

For me, Lacey Chabert quickly steals the show with her violin, her living room tent, and her winning smile. If anyone could get the Salingers together again in San Francisco, it'd be this Hallmark movie queen. In a January 2023 appearance on "Good Day DC," Chabert responded to the idea of a reunion: "I don't know if there ever will be, but I would love that. … Sign me up, I want to know what Claudia is doing." About the rest of the cast, she sweetly added, "They're family to me."

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The post Underrated Teen Drama Shows That Are Worth Watching appeared first on /Film.