Is it just us or were our biggest problems in high school running three miles for gym class, copying calculus homework at the last minute and watching the people we’re crushing on go after someone else? Okay sure, those kind of are big problems, especially that last one. But they pale in comparison to having a pimp shove you in the back of his van; or jumping out of your skin every time your phone rings because it could be a psychopath who’s obsessed with torturing you and your friends; or trying to single-handedly catch a serial killer who almost murdered your father; to name a few examples from your favorite TV shows.
Now, even as a twentysomething who has left the troublesome teenage years behind, it’s still mind-boggling to watch some of these high school characters go through half the drama they wind up drowning in. With all the backstabbing best friends, relentless murderers and he-said-she-said flying around faster than Blair Waldorf’s jet to Paris, it’s easy to see why these high school students are literally never doing actual school work. But if you don’t believe us, we’ve rounded up the shows with teenage drama that’s so crazy you’ll actually thank the heavens you never have to go back. (As if you weren’t doing that already.)
16. Gossip Girl
First of all, how does a teenager find the time to keep tabs on the dirty laundry of all his friends while going to school, and writing a book? Not only that, but he has a drug-dealing little sister who can make time to have a fashion internship, and climb the social ladder at school. Then we’ve got the whole Serena-went-to-boarding-school-because-she-was-kind-of-responsible-for-a-man’s-death thing. Let’s just say that the rumors floating about that all-girls high school must’ve been INSANE.
15. House of Anubis
Okay, having spooky prophecies and hidden chambers and death traps on your boarding school grounds would be kind of wild. But even the classic love triangles on this show are ones we’re so happy we didn’t have to deal with ourselves. Fabian has had a thing for Nina Martin since the first day she even arrived at Anubis House. In fact, she quickly replaces Fabian’s old best friend Joy, whose whereabouts are mostly unknown in the first season. But once Joy comes back with the hots for Fabian, sh*t gets complicated. Way more complicated than our high school experiences ever were, TBH.
14. The Secret Life of The American Teenager
The Secret Life of the American Teenager was full of teen pregnancies, confusing relationships, and inappropriate parental meddling. And while high school friends aren’t exactly known for being the most loyal ones you’ll ever meet, the truly awful friendship skills of the characters on this show stands out. There’s enough backstabbing to last a lifetime. It’s overwhelming.
13. The Fosters
Five kids, five times the drama. We thought sneaking around and sleeping with your foster brother was pretty wild, then you add in almost getting killed by an abusive pimp, cheating on the SATs and texting your mentally ill ex-boyfriend — sorry, he thinks you’re still together — who tried to shoot up your entire school. Oh, and then afterward he hides in your room to pay you a little visit? And all that only happened to Callie! Suddenly, our crush not wanting to go to prom with us doesn’t seem so bad anymore.
Aside from the glaring incest theory that’s been running through everyone’s minds since episode one, things get a little (okay, a lot) wild when Betty Cooper finds herself facing off against an actual serial killer who’s been calling her at night. And let’s not forget our red-headed vigilante who thought he could form a watch group and post a video threatening said killer’s life without any repercussions. That drama on Riverdale keeps us on our toes, but Archie banging his music teacher… who later ends up dead? It’s too much. There’s normal high school drama like illicit stolen kisses and party games gone wrong, but this CW show takes it to new heights.
Who said the most drama happens with students? On Glee, some of the most awkward and unforgettable moments happen between Will Schuester and Emma Pillsbury, two teachers at the high school. Crushing on a married co-worker probably isn’t new, but you can count on the drama between two musical groups being just a bit over-the-top. To add to that, at one point, Rachel finds out that her birth mother, who gave her up for adoption, is actually the head of the Glee club’s rival group Vocal Adrenaline – and then her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s baby-daddy hits on her birth mother? The complicated webs we weave. Never forget when Cory legitamately thought he’d knocked up Quinn by prematurely ejaculating in a hot tub. Little did he know she was cheating on him!
10. Degrassi (Any generation of it)
Degrassi has always been known to highlight real problems that real teens go through: depression; suicide; peer pressure; sexual assault; the murder of a friend; teen pregnancy; and others. But all in one high school? Sometimes it would seem that Degrassi High is haunted because of all the shiz that goes down. The dramatic moments between the characters on the show are bound to set off the waterworks because it all feels so real!
Teenagers and superpowers don’t mix well. A lot of the drama is related to pre-Superman figuring out his powers, but the way those powers interact with his very normal high school friends makes for some serious drama. Clark not being able to go near Lana without embarrassing himself because she wears Kryptonite in her necklace? YEP. If only we had such a good excuse back in the day for acting like such a freak around the people we were swooning over.
8. Pretty Little Liars
So first: your manipulative and conniving BFF goes missing and eventually turns up dead. Then, you’re being cyber-stalked by someone who knows all the secrets you told your dead friend? That’s insanity on its own. But it just keeps spiralling out of control. Evil twins, fake deaths, and cheating scandals run rampant in Rosewood and we just feel lucky that our high school experience was NOTHING like the Liars’.
7. Beverly Hills, 90210
Having a lot of money must mean having a lot of drama, or at least it does in shows like Beverly Hills, 90210. (The original.) Students showing up to graduation drunk and not being allowed on stage, going to raves with shady people who end up drugging them, and getting shot because someone mistook them for someone else is just par for the course for a random teenager in this prestigious zipcode.
6. Friday Night Lights
While moments in Friday Night Lights are tender as hell, we’ve got to admit that sometimes the drama is a little much. Star quarterback Jason Street winds up paralyzed in the hospital during the first episode, his girlfriend, Lyla, begins cheating on him with his BFF, the definitely-looks-too-old-to-be-in-high-school Tim Riggins, who is sleeping with Tyra, who publicly flirts with “Smash,” Tim’s enemy. And that’s just the beginning of the drama in Dillon, TX. Who knew a show about football could be so juicy?
Like most other teen dramas, this show was rife with drug abuse, alcoholism, sex and depression, but also explored issues of mental illness, dysfunctional families and bullying, among others. While these are all important things to talk about with young adults, sometimes it almost seems a little too casual on the British Skins. They tried to remake it for the States, but it was too inappropriate… which is saying something itself about the original version.
4. 13 Reasons Why
Like Skins, 13RW deals with heavy issues like depression, suicide, and sexual assault, but UNLIKE Skins, it does it in a rather heavy-handed way. There are some super raw scenes, but some viewers thought it was a little much for a high school teen drama.
3. American Vandal
Remember when the seniors at your high school pulled their annual senior prank? It was probably something like put plastic wrap on all the desks in the classrooms. Or hide all the chalkboard erasers. Or, if they really wanted to get a little wild, put foil wrap all over the principal’s car. And while American Vandal’s prank was a goofy one – the repercussions were WAY over-the-top.
Ah, the high school rumor mill. It’s something we know well. But lucky for us, it never got quite as out of control as it did in MTV’s Awkward. Jenna’s assumed failed suicide attempt, her secret affair with Matty McKibbons, then a flirtationship with his BFF, are just a few examples of the OTT romantic hijox on this show. And we’re not even getting into how bizarre Sadie’s brand of bullying her peers is.
1. One Tree Hill
Like Friday Night Lights, but with basketball – this show is another that proves sports are dramatic as hell. We’ve got two half-brothers with a douchebag of a dad, who start as rivals but become friends. Then we have one of those half-brothers marrying his high school sweetheart… while they’re juniors in school and not even legal yet. Then we have a school shooting, previously mentioned douchebag-dad murdering his brother, Keith, a faked pregnancy scare, and even more drama… all before graduation day. Let’s just say Tree Hill would be a fun place to stay for a day, but it would be kind of scary to be there for much longer.