The teen drama is definitely a strange beast. By its very nature, it tends to be a little shallow and melodramatic because after all, that's sort of how teenagers are too. Half of the stuff that we watched as teens may have been entertaining for us, but it was objectively not very good television, and looking back at it now we can see it for all of the flaws that it had. They were either needlessly soapy (Beverly Hills 90210), sanctimonious (7th Heaven), or trying way too hard to be hip (Glee). But every once in a while, there was a legitimately good show on the air aimed at teenagers. One that was particularly intelligent, or had strong actors, or just managed to tap into something real and genuine. These were the shows that your parents would find excuses to watch with you (as lame as that was), and when you watch them now, they still hold up. We would never begrudge you your favorite teen drama because hey, we all have are guilty pleasures. But there are definitely some programs out there that transcend their target demographic and manage to be not just good teen shows, but good television, period.
This is not your grandmother's teen drama. The hedonistic antics of the kids on Skins are enough to make your parents clutch at their pearls and steady themselves against the furniture. Won't someone think of the children? Yeah, so Skins is definitely a show that depicts some extreme teen behavior and has garnered more than its fair share of controversy over the years. But in doing so, it created a massive following of teenagers that really identified with the show. The Skins writing team averaged 21 years old, with several teenage consultants, so it managed to avoid some of the inauthenticity that occurs when you have adult writers trying to sound like teenagers. But what really made this show great was the cast that they had, especially in the early seasons. Their alumni includes Nicholas Hoult (X-Men), Hannah Murray, Joe Dempsie (both from Game of Thrones), Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), and Daniel Kaluuya (Black Mirror). That's a pretty impressive roster, and they were all just as good on Skins as they are now.
Audrey Fox is an ex-film student, which means that she prefers to spend her days in the dark, watching movies and pondering the director's use of diegetic sound. She currently works as an entertainment writer, joyfully rambling about all things film and television related. Add her on Twitter at @audonamission and check out her film blog at 1001moviesandbeyond.com.