Hi everyone – we’re the HereNow Summer 2023 college interns, Jaclyn, Michelle, and Myriam. We spent a lot of time talking about TV on our lunch breaks as it is one of the most powerful forms of media. The portrayal of various struggles, family dynamics, identities, friendships, and more really gives people the ability to feel represented. We thought it’d be a good idea to recommend some of our favorite shows that meant a lot to us in high school (and still do) that also handle a wide range of meaningful topics. We recommend them to everyone, but especially teens.
Modern Family (Hulu) is a sitcom that focuses on a family, with a structure different from the ones we usually see on tv. The show features Jay, who had recently married a much younger woman and became a stepfather. Jay also has two kids of his own. His daughter, Claire, has a husband and 3 kids of her own. Jay’s son, Mitchell has a partner Cam and a daughter Lilly who they adopted from Vietnam together. Although the family lives in 3 different homes, they are very closely bonded. There are characters of every age group and the show does a fantastic job of highlighting the different struggles each stage of life presents. Also, each episode is uniquely funny, presents new challenges for the characters, and teaches its own valuable lesson.
Degrassi (Netflix) is a teen drama that goes in-depth about several serious issues teens can experience. Some of these episodes may require a trigger warning and focuses on experiences, such as school shootings, kidnapping, teen pregnancy, STDs, rape, drug addiction, eating disorders (including bulimia, anorexia, and obesity), struggles with sexuality and gender, struggles with ADHD, ASD, bipolar disorder, dyslexia, self-harm, cancer, and being paralyzed/in a wheelchair. I love this show because it crosses boundaries and goes into detail about serious issues many other shows are too scared to present on television. This show also focuses on a school rather than characters, so each season some characters leave and new characters join. This also gives the show the ability to explore some issues more than once in different perspectives. This show also does a great job of showing the different consequences teens may encounter when dealing with each of these issues.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Hulu) is a fantastic and cheesy 90s TV show about a teenage girl who is the “Chosen One” to defeat vampires, demons, and other forces of evil. The show focuses on her (and her friends) struggle to be a “typical” high schooler while also saddled with the burden of saving the world on a near-daily basis. I’ve watched it four or five times; it’s comforting, entertaining, and relatable (believe it or not) every time. For lots of outdated pop culture references, excellent banter, silly monsters, and great outfits, this show is worth watching.
Sex Education (Netflix) is a British comedy-drama about students, staff, and parents in high school. It handles many important tackles through different characters’ perspectives: sexual assault, abortion, divorce, anxiety, and bullying to name just a few. The show’s humor and awkwardness help lighten these topics. Whenever I talk about good TV with my friends from high school, this show is always near the top of the list.
Never Have I Ever (Netflix) is a show about a teenage girl, Devi, who navigates the loss of her father while also dealing with boy drama, connecting with her Indian heritage, trying to get into an Ivy League, and being a good friend. This show is real and will make you both laugh and cry. Devi is an incredible lead and all the flaws written into her character make her that much more relatable. The show has some ridiculous moments and will definitely keep you entertained.
Grand Army (Netflix) is a show set in a large public high school in Brooklyn and follows several main characters as they deal with common teenage problems. The show explores topics such as the potential toxicity of social media, sexual harassment, being a first-generation student, and navigating identity in an academic environment.
This list shares only a few worthwhile TV shows; we know there are so many more! Still, we hope you find something new that resonates with you in this list. We encourage you to think about shows that you have felt a connection to, and to ask your friends or family what they might add to a list like this.