Most problematic teen shows: RANKED and explained


Claire Kunzier, Editor

Ello luvs, today we will be discussing the TV show category of teen dramas and how problematic they are. Let’s be honest, there is not one teen show that isn’t some amount of problematic, half of them include some weird sexual storyline with a teacher or toxic masculinity. I am going to show you a list of the general top ten most to least problematic shows, one being the most and ten being the least. There are many other shows that fit into this list and I will call out as many as I can and the reasons why. 

Starting off with number ten, “Outer Banks,” the 2020 show came out at the beginning of quarantine and it’s basically just too unrealistic to not be problematic. All the actors are 20+, the oldest being 28, giving unrealistic body standards for real-life teenagers. Overall, this show, along with “Teen Wolf” and “Gilmore Girls,” isn’t bad; they just aren’t the most realistic and have little things that aren’t the best to include in a show geared towards teens. 

Continuing to number nine, the early 2000s show “One Tree Hill” again doesn’t involve any real teenagers (this is a reoccurring theme), the plot is more realistic than the prior show, but certain plot points are real head scratchers. A number nine show isn’t the worst, there are just small pieces that should’ve been thought about, like the number of times each character cheats on their significant other and just how unrealistic Dan Scott’s storyline post season three is. Other shows in the nine spot include “Sex Education” and “Dawsons Creek” for the little things that just don’t make sense or shouldn’t be a major part of the plot aimed at teens. 

Number eight is “The Vampire Diaries.” This is where things are starting to heat up in why they are problematic. First everyone looks 30, not one character beyond the pilot episode looks their character’s age, second the show is oversexualising people in general and uses topics such as relationship and substance abuse willy nilly. For example, they had an emotionally abused character who used drugs to cope, turn into a crazy killer vampire and whose death no one  really cared about. Shows like the “Vampire Diaries,” “That 70s Show” (I know a fav) and “90210” all have some wild plot parts that just are a bit problematic.

So ranks seven and six are just like eight, they just increase in more drama and issues. “Gossip Girl” just has a bit more problematic plot points such as sexual assault that is ignored and a teen/young adults getting involved with grown women. In turn, “Pretty Little Liars” has issues that both prior ranks have, but normalized a teacher-student relationship and dating someone that tried to kill you. MULTIPLE CHARACTERS DO THIS. Other shows within these two ranks include “Switched at Birth,” “The OC” and “Awkward” because they just kind of are wild, but not horrible. Now that we’ve made it to the top five, I will say that these are favorites, but also people hate them sooooooooooooooo if you don’t like my list then oops.

Number five, starting out strong, “13 Reasons Why,” the book Selena Gomez endorsed as a show. I will say the first season, A+, very tasteful, BUT the later seasons are just not it and do not handle their serious topics of sexual assault, suicide, drug abuse and mental health well all the time. The first season saved this show from being ranked worse and two other shows in this rank are “Skins” and “Euphoria” for the same reasons of not handling their serious topics the best and romanticizing drug abuse and relationship abuse.

Jumping down to number four, “Degrassi,” the Canadian show that introduced the world to Drake is just something else. This is Kicks writer Jessie Brain’s favorite show and I feel bad saying this, but the plot has such deep issues and treats them not right. Is it the worst? No. Could it be better? Yes. And to prevent beefing with JBrain I’m gonna leave it at that.

TOP THREE! “Riverdale” takes the third spot on this list for pretty obvious reasons, season one involves a teacher-student relationship and other than it was honestly good. But, it did go down from there because not only did the writing get worse, it also involved more serious plot lines and they were laughable. The prison plot line, excuse my language, fucking funny, but a real issue that is faced with kids who fall into the wrong life path. In general, the writing is so bad that the serious plot lines that are done well are looked over and ignored because they had characters say some weird shit.

The second problematic show is often forgotten by many, but not me. A personal favorite show just because of how insane it is, “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” is just so problematic for so many reasons, I don’t know why my mother let me and my friend Ryen watch this in elementary school. Basically, it’s a Christian values fueled show to promote saving sex till marriage, but everyone on the show has sex and has a pregnancy scare or gets pregnant. The writing, HORRIBLE, so bad it’s funny, on top of important topics of teen pregnancy, one of them resulting in a traumatic stillbirth. Overall, promoted teen pregnancy and didn’t handle the tough  topics well at all and it’s landing at number two because of its carelessness and the religious undertones that didn’t work.

DRUMROLL PLEASE……….the number one spot goes tooooooo “Glee” the show that took the world by storm for being the first of its kind, but now is actually the most problematic. From having a non handicapped person playing a person in a wheelchair, to the main adult character being extremely inappropriate with his students, things just aren’t cool on “Glee.” As much as it was one of the first most inclusive shows at the time, the plot just has too many issues within it and I could go on for hours about it. I’m going to put a problematic compilation that you can watch for a more in-depth look at why this show is number one. Wow. This was really a lot, but also brings up the issue of teen shows and maybe we should do better about them. I do have an honorable mention of a teen show that is overall unproblematic, “Stranger Things” has accurate ages, doesn’t sexulaize them and overall, besides the supernatural plot, is normal. Yeah so that’s what you missed on Glee.

The Rundown 

  1. Glee
  2. The Secret life of an American Teenager 
  3. Riverdale
  4. Degrassi 
  5. 13 Reasons Why 
  6. Pretty Little Liars 
  7. Gossip Girl 
  8. The Vampire Diaries 
  9. One Tree Hill
  10. Outer Banks

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