I’m going to start this off by admitting to the fact that I probably spent way too much time watching TV when I was a teenager. But in my defence, that’s because the shows that were made around the time I was a teenager were JUST. SO. GOOD. They made us feel like maybe, just maybe, life wasn’t as bad as it sometimes seemed. They defined coming of age, and became the hope we grew up on.
This show didn’t have too many seasons (running from 2003-2007, it had 4 seasons), but boy did it make an impact. It told the story of Ryan, a teenager with a heart of gold but on the wrong side of law, who gets adopted by a family in Orange County, California. You couldn’t help but fall for Seth’s geekiness, root for Ryan and Marissa’s romance, and relate to the sheer angst, yet hope that seemed to exist in every character.
Miley Jab Hum Tum
I remember my classmates having intense conversations back in school, trying to figure out which Miley Jab Hum Tum character they were. It was decided that I was Gunjan. Filled with relatable characters, the show revolved around the lives of sisters Gunjan and Nupur, college stud Samrat, and his rival – the college geek, Mayank. Of course, romances fraught with misunderstandings are born, as each character’s personal history is slowly revealed. And even at its most unrealistically dramatic phase, Miley Jab Hum Tum still managed to stay relatable. Plus, it’s title track was un-f**king forgettable.
One Tree Hill
Okay, this is a show that I still watch, every chance I get. Or at least until season 5, mostly because Lucas Scott was EVERYTHING. The series initially told the story of half-brothers Nathan and Lucas, along with Haley, Peyton, and Brooke. With an extremely killer soundtrack, grudging rivalries, beautiful friendships, unlikely romances and beautiful monologues, this show defined most of our teens.
Confession time: this show was my little secret every time my mom went out shopping. Seriously, the moment she’d leave the house, I’d switch on the TV, hoping to catch it. Mostly because 9-year-old me had a majooor crush on Yuvraaj and his (now questionable) hair. The series told the story of Yuraaj Dev, Tia Ahuja (who’d keep calling herself “Tia”, because no one taught her pronouns), Ranveer Sisodia and Anvesha Ray Banerjee. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritties of the romances (Ranveer+Tia = 4ever), but with all the drama and the music, this show defined the “cool kids” of the 2000s.
This iconic hospital drama show that is still very much alive, probably made every one of us feel better about our luck at some point. Though it didn’t revolve around teens, it did revolve around characters we all wanted to be – whether it was bad boy with a golden heart, Alex Karev, fiery and fierce Cristina Yang, dreamy Derek, or of course – dark and twisty Meredith. This show has gained a loyal fan base for a reason and fans have stuck around through the heartbreaking death of their favourite characters (STILL NOT OVER LIKE 80% OF THOSE DEATHS, SHONDHA!)
Dill Mill Gayye
Sequel to the popular show Sanjivani, the show focuses on the lives of medical interns, specifically, Dr. Armaan Malik and Dr. Riddhima Gupta. Every girl I knew was crushing on the extremely cute Armaan Malik (aka. Karan Singh Grover), but Riddhima and Armaan’s love story, with all its twists and turns also had every viewer hooked. Much like Grey’s, DMG was high on drama, and through it, gave us all relationship goals.
A mix of happy and dramatic, Gilmore Girls is a show every teenage girl should watch with her mother. This iconic, wholesome show tells of story of Rory Gilmore, your typical good girl and her free-spirited single mom, Lorelai Gilmore. The progression of their relationship is beautifully natural, and Rory’s coming of age is the most relatable thing to have ever graced our television screens in the 2000s.
Okay, so let’s be real here: this show is probably scripted. BUT IT WAS SO GOOD. The whole thing about “finding yourself” and “pushing yourself” inspired every teenager to put themselves in uncomfortable situations and make it through. Plus, the fact that most of us felt personally involved in the lives of the contestants helped. Every one of us, at least at some point, wanted to apply to the show and then chickened out of it.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Okay, so this show defined girl power and coming of age for me. Buffy’s struggle to lead a normal life, to fit in while refusing to shrug off her responsibilities, is all of us. All of us grew up with Buffy – while rooting for her to fall in love and kill the bad guys.
“XOXO, Gossip Girl.”
Honestly, this show is *i c o n i c*. Okay, maybe we all aren’t rich kids from the Upper East Side with a wardrobe that is to die for. But all of us have the ambition of Blair, the niceness of Serena, and well…a tiny bit of every other character. Yes, it was dramatic. Yes, there were times I scratched my head and wondered at the show. But watching every character grow, watching Blair and Chuck finally get together – that was what my teen years were all about.
Left Right Left
This show hit all the right chords with us: it had an extremely talented, good-looking cast, a title track by Vishal-Shekhar, and a storyline that made all of us feel patriotic and rebellious in equal parts. The characters in the show grow from disoriented, confused youths, to focused, celebrated members of society. Honestly, this show gave me just a bit of hope as I struggled through the angst that were my teens.
A sequel to the popular 90s show Beverly Hills, 90210 was a show that was addictive. It started off with the story of a family that moves to uptown California from Kansas, and follows the life of the wealthy Beverly Hills residents. And the thing is: most of us can’t relate to their problems. But we can relate to the characters struggling to fit in, to do so without losing themselves.
The Vampire Diaries
Vampire Diaries had a winning combination: love triangles, sibling rivalries and an extremely good looking cast. And man, were we invested in knowing which one of the two extremely good-looking brothers Elena would choose. The characters went through hell (like, literal hell) and came out better for it. They proved to us that love doesn’t always have to be romantic, and that through everything, love does conquer all.
This show gave us the gem that Katie Holmes is. There wasn’t anything particularly striking about the show’s characters or the show. Which is maybe what made the show as iconic as it is. It made every teenager trying to figure out the complications of romances, sex and even friendships feel a little less alone.
Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin
Where do I begin with this? Mona Singh made this show a household name, and the characters inspired us to go believe in ourselves and go after what we want. Plus, a good before/after transformation gave acne-ridden me a whole lot of hope.