Teen dramas are a cornerstone of television, and no matter how old we get they make for some truly compelling stories when done right. Whether those stories are tales of dysfunctional youth, alienation, romantic awakening, finding identity or families and friendships falling apart, seeing the world through the eyes of those who are still trying to make sense of growing up will always be an interesting notion.
We all know The OC, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and those other inconic shows which caught fire and became pop culture phenomenons in the 2000s. Even if you’re not a fan of shows like them, it’s highly likely that you’re familiar with those titles to some extent. However, those shows have been discussed more than enough, and continue to find new fans today on streaming services. We’re here to shed a spotlight on the forgotten franchises that only the keenest connoisseurs of teen drama will be unacquainted with.
The 2000s especially saw a wave of teen dramas released, many of which were short-lived and overlooked. If you’re familiar with the upcoming titles then you’re officially an expert.
Without further ado, here are 20 Forgettable ’00s Teen Dramas Only Superfans Remember.
20 THE MOUNTAIN
Estranged families and scheming corporate types seem like the right ingredients for a tasty drama on paper, but in the case of The Mountain, no one was around to enjoy the dish when Warner Bros. unleashed it back in 2004.
When the owner of a popular ski resort passes away, he leaves the business to his grandson who’s estranged from the rest of the family. The decision doesn’t go over well with his older brother and the rest of the family, though, as they feel he’s irresponsible. Plus his big brother has his own plans in mind which he’s unable to carry out without sole ownership. It’s quite the predicament. Throw in an evil land developer with nefarious plans for the resort and what you have is a dilemma.
The Mountain aired for 13 episodes before its eventual cancellation. This was in part down to being overshadowed by a popular show you’ve probably heard of called The O.C. Additionally, whoever was responsible for promoting the show wasn’t doing a good enough job. According to the rumor mill, they accidentally advertised a Carmen Electra appearance, but it was for another Warner Bros. show at the time.
Perhaps under better circumstances - better timing, better marketing, and advertising actors who were actually scheduled to appear - The Mountain would have fared better.
19 JACK AND BOBBY
Not many shows on this list fall under the “taken too soon” bracket, but Jack and Bobby was unique and deserved more than time than it got. Jack and Bobby was smart, compelling, and unique compared to its peers at the time. In fact, there still hasn’t been a show quite like it since.
The story centers on the titular characters and oscillates between their present day lives and their high school years. In the show’s contemporary timeline, one of the brothers is the president of the United States of America. However, the main focus of the story is about how his experiences as a youngster, along with his brother, molded his values and instilled the drive and values which enabled him to reach the White House. These included growing up in a single parent household under the guidance of a mother who liked getting buzzed.
The show was unique for its faux documentary style, which included interviews with the show’s fictional White House staffers.
Jack and Bobby also emerged during the height of the Bush administration, and it wasn’t afraid to tackle controversial political topics and the scandals either. At its heart, though, Jack and Bobby's message was all about encouraging everyday kids to chase their most ambitious dreams.
Of all the health scares out there to mine for potential, few shows have focused on the childhood obesity crisis. “Fat” characters are commonplace, sure, but very rarely do they populate the majority of a show’s cast. Last year it was reported that the supposed obesity epidemic had reached a record high, so perhaps a teen drama set in modern times would be topical if released today.
Back in 2010, though, Huge wasn’t afraid to give some plus-sized characters the majority of the limelight. The show revolved around a group of teenage girls and their experience at Camp Victory, a summer program dedicated to weight loss. That said, the show didn’t quite take off as well as hoped and the network didn’t renew it for a second season, despite some promising reviews and progressive ideals.
Huge was a promising show as it depicted its stars in a positive light. The television landscape has always favored thin and superficial standards when it comes to beauty. Huge let its talented cast act, and the show tapped into its themes without judging people’s size, but it still encouraged achieving health goals. Regardless of how "huge" we are, we could all learn something from this show.
17 HIDDEN PALMS
Kevin Williamson has written some popular television throughout the years, including teen drama Dawson’s Creek and supernatural teen drama The Vampire Diaries. Others may know him as the screenwriter of horror fare like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Or maybe you are one of the substantial amount of people who enjoyed The Following? Either way, Williamson has a stacked resume worthy of praise - but not every title was a hit.
One of the shows that doesn’t get mentioned often when discussing Williamson's oeuvre is Hidden Palms. That’s unsurprising considering it was canceled after eight episodes and subsequently forgotten about, with no plans to release it on home media at the time of writing. The show followed a group of teenagers from Palm Springs, but the story primarily focused on a student who was struggling to re-adjust to the passing of his old man and life in California. This included trying to unravel a mystery.
Most notably, the show also starred a young Amber Heard as our protagonist’s crush.
Suffice it to say, she went on to bigger things after -- like Never Back Down, an outstanding movie which combines teen drama with mixed martial arts. Maybe if Hidden Palms had more combat sports to spice it up we’d be singing its praises to this day.
16 CAITLIN'S WAY
Debuting in the year 2000, Caitlin’s Way is a live-action drama which aired on Nickelodeon for three seasons before coming to an end in 2002. However, despite being geared towards a young teen audience, the show wasn’t shy about exploring topics such as parental death and troubled youth.
Caitlin’s Way focuses on the titular character (played by Lindsay Felton), an orphaned teen from Philadelphia who movies in with family in Montana to avoid going to a juvenile detention center. Upon moving in with her cousins on their ranch, she experiences a quite the culture shock, but also discovers a new family who care about her and help get her back on track. She also gets a horse.
The title of the show possibly alludes to a certain Brian De Palma gangster movie starring Al Pacino, but on paper, Caitlin’s Way boasts parallels with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
A Philly native gets into bother and must relocate to another part of the country to start over under the supervision of extended family members? Sounds familiar, right?
Maybe the creators weren’t inspired by that show, but there certainly are some similarities with its more comedic counterpart. Apart from that minor similarity, it’s really nothing like Fresh Prince.
15 AMERICAN DREAMS
Set in the 1960s, this series follows a girl who, seeking to get rid of her wholesome good girl images, decides to become an American Bandstand dancer. Of course, this doesn’t go down well with her family, especially her unapproving father. However, the American Dream is about the individual pursuit of happiness, and she chased her goals regardless.
American Dreams was very much a love letter to the decade in which the story is set. From the costumes to the music and everything else that encapsulated the Swinging Sixties, the show did an excellent job of recreating that era. However, it didn’t shy away from the grittier subject matter of the zeitgeist era either, and often explored issues like racial tensions, religious conflict, and the Vietnam War. It was a wild time for society.
Furthermore, the show also featured a who’s who of guest stars, including Alicia Keys, Tyra Banks, Wyclef Jean, Lil Kim, and Macy Gray. and more. The star-studded nature of the show coupled with its uniqueness should have garnered it a bigger reputation throughout the years, but much like the American Dream itself, it wasn’t for everyone.
The show was canceled after three seasons because the ratings weren’t competitive enough.
14 HIGHER GROUND
Before he graced the Star Wars franchise, young Hayden Christensen starred in this series about a boarding school for teenagers with addiction problems, as well as other issues which put them at risk of self-destruction. Needless to say, this isn’t your conventional feel-good fare, but most Star Wars fans would probably tell you that Hayden Christensen performances have that effect on people.
All kidding aside, Higher Ground was forward-thinking and progressive in the grand scheme of things when it comes to dramatic teenage television. Whether it was looking at addiction, assault, mental health struggles, or other like-minded subject matter that can affect anyone, the show was commendable for for highlighting real issues that plenty of young people experience in their daily lives.Lots of other shows investigated similar topics, but in Higher Ground they were prioritized and handled effectively.
Higher Ground wasn’t brought back for a second season, which is most definitely a shame considering how noble its intention were from the get-go. That being said, during its brief spell on national television, the show let people know that they weren’t alone and that the problems they experienced were nothing to be ashamed of. Christensen was actually pretty good in it, too.
13 SOUTH OF NOWHERE
They say that Los Angeles is the city of angels and the place where aspiring stars go to make their dreams come true. At the same time, it can just as easily eat your soul and spit it back out out. In other cases, it can make you question your own orientation. In the case of South of Nowhere, the show's entire story revolves around re-adjusting to new, bigger surroundings.
Here, we see a teenage girl go from being your typical, heteronormative Ohio teenager to open-minded, awakened California after she falls for a new female friend upon moving to the city with her family. Of course, back in the mid-2000s when this show aired, being bi must have been a controversial topic in teen fiction. The show allegedly received complaints before the first episode even aired after people found out about the show’s LGBT representation.
Thankfully, The N pressed ahead and showcased South of Nowhere long enough for three short seasons, which culminated in one of the better endings you’re ever likely to see from a show designed to appeal to a teenage demographic. This is another forgotten show that deserves to be rediscovered and praised for promoting progressive values.
12 YOUNG AMERICANS
The characters of Dawson’s Creek didn’t want to wait for their lives to be over, and the network executives at The WB didn’t want to wait for their flagship show to end without milking its popularity for all it was worth. Enter Young Americans, the ill-fated spinoff about Will Krudski (Rodney Scott), who was introduced to Dawson's Creek in season three.
Will is a poor kid who receives a scholarship to a posh and prestigious boarding school. At first it’s great news as he gets to escape his abusive home life, but when it is discovered that he cheated on his entrance exam his future, he risks being expelled unless he can convince his professor that he deserves to be there. In the real world he’d be booted, but in this world second chances are easier to come by.
Throughout the series we witness a character who is faced with various moral conundrums and a difficult time adjusting to this new world. As such, he finds himself caught between two worlds as he tries to maintain his old relationships while forging new ones in his new surroundings. We never got to find out how his journey ended, but it was a promising adventure while it lasted. Stars Kate Bosworth, Kate Moenig, and Ian Somerhalder went on to bigger and better things, at least.
11 BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
In another instance of a family moving to pastures new in the big city, Beautiful People revolves around a recently divorced woman and her two daughters as they ditch New Mexico for the Big Apple, New York City. The youngest daughter has been allowed entry to a notable school, while the eldest seeks to pursue her dream as a model, and what better place to do that than the Big Apple. one of the world’s premier cultural hot spots?
While Beautiful People focuses heavily on the lives of the young protagonists, the show is just as dedicated to telling their mother’s story as she rebuilds her life following a messy divorce which saw her husband run off with a younger woman.
The show quite reminiscent of Gilmore Girls, albeit set in a big city environment.
Both shows feature a single mother determined to make it on her own, and an academic daughter attending a top institution for learning. All the class and wealth divisions are present and accounted for as well.
Perhaps the similarities to Gilmore Girls served as a glaring reminder that not even NYC could replace the wonder of Stars Hollow. But that doesn’t mean that Beautiful People lacked the charm and personality to serve as a worthwhile companion piece to its counterpart.
10 JOAN OF ARCADIA
Starring Amber Tamblyn as the titular character, Joan of Arcadia is about a teenage girl who speaks to God. Episodes feature her accepting tasks at the instruction of the Almighty, most of which appear to be insignificant at the time, but eventually prove to be so much more.
She helped bullies find their heart and prevented school shootings by carrying out the simplest of requests. She was a vessel for the greater good, but what’s her real purpose in the grand scheme of things?
Joan of Arcadia's cancellation must go down in history as one of the great crimes of television. Despite being showered with praise and awards, the season two ratings declined so much that the plug was pulled before we got any satisfying answers, but the show’s story was in no way ready to end. When we parted ways with Joan and co., a devilish character (played by Wentworth Miller) had entered the equation to spice things up.
Hopefully Joan of Arcadia will continue to live on through reruns and streaming platforms. Unlike Veronica Mars and other lucky shows, campaigns to bring this one back were fruitless in the end. Joan’s disciples are loyal, but there aren’t enough out there to ignite her resurrection.
The next entry on our list isn’t just one of the finest gems of teenage television of the 2000s, it’s also one of the most enjoyable shows about college life to ever grace screens -- big and small. That’s a bold statement, but Greek still holds up all these years later.
The series follows Rusty Cartwright (Jacob Zachar), a nerdy freshman who arrives at college and decides to come out of his shell by joining the wildest fraternity on campus. As a result, he’s caught in the middle of warring college factions as he tries to balance a life of studying, partying, rand maintaining a relationship with his big sister (played by Spencer Grammer).
Greek was one of the better teen dramas of the 2000s, and one which encapsulated the pressures of college life with plenty of heart and humor.
While predictable in many ways, the ensemble of characters were highly enjoyable and their arcs were engaging.
Rusty is is the type of social underdog character who’s easy to root for, and his transition from nerd to confident makes for a light-hearted but wholly enjoyable coming-of-age tale. The show was also banned by USC for its party-centric portrayal of fraternity life.
Since graduating from Greek, several of the show’s moved on to bigger things like Rick and Morty, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Kick-Ass. Life after graduation isn't so bad after all in the land of make believe.
8 THE BEDFORD DIARIES
The Bedford Diaries is the most risque of all the shows on this list. The drama deals brings an array of adult-themed topics to the forefront and presents them in a grown up and realistic manner befitting of their real-life intricacies. Unlike other teen shows which tiptoe around subject matter, and the highs and lows that can arise from such activities, this one understood that its target audience were intelligent people who undoubtedly had first-hand experience and could relate to some extent.
The premise follows a group of New York City college students who share their stories through video diaries. Some seek love, others embrace the passion that can be found in the heat of the moment. However, through their encounters, they learn a lot about their own identities and relationships with other people. That said, the show also deals with topics like addiction and other problems that drag young people down.
In the lead-up to the first season’s premiere, the network tried to generate buzz by releasing deleted scenes from the pilot on their website. The scenes in questioned contained more adult material not meant for the broadcast, but that didn’t stop them from trying to trick the audience anyway.
7 JUST DEAL
For three years, this short-lived show played every Saturday morning on NBC, providing blossoming adolescents with occasional laughs and a snapshot of high school life they could relate to. These days you never hear it mentioned at all. However, Just Deal was co-created by Thomas W. Lynch, whom the New York Times called “the David E. Kelley of Tween TV” due to his prolific run during the 1990s and 2000s. This wasn’t to be one of his most enduring efforts, though.
The show revolves around Dylan Roberts (Brian T. Skala), who is just your regular teenager living in the suburbs. His older brother is the star quarterback of the high-school football team, and his best friend is a bright student with Harvard aspirations someday. Ashley (Erika Thormahlen), who is the new girl in town, rounds off the gang and together they navigate their way through high school and all the other factors that come with teenage life.
While Just Deal is rarely discussed in present times, it’s worth noting that it was the first TNBC show to use the single-camera format.
Other teen shows which aired on the network at the time were recorded in front of studio audiences and featured a laugh tracks. Unfortunately, it was canceled when NBC leased its Saturday morning block to Discovery Kids in 2002. At least it was good while it lasted.
As teenagers, most of us dreamed of hanging out with our favorite sports stars. Boring adulthoods were still a few years away, and back then our imaginations led us to believe that anything was possible. Then we grow up, get jobs, and our daydreams end. Clubhouse is a show that can relate to its dreams ending as well.
Clubhouse chronicles the dream journey of a boy (played by a young Jeremy Sumpter) who lands his ideal job working as a batboy for his favorite major-league baseball team. Throughout the he encounters all the trials and tribulations that come with being a teenager. Meanwhile, his sister also encounters her fair share of excitement through substances and romance. All in all, the show was a solid mix of far-fetched dreams and dramatic realities intersecting for our entertainment.
Unfortunately, Clubhouse didn’t strike a home run and was sent to the bench after five episodes.
The other six episodes weren’t broadcast. That said, if you can find them anywhere then this is a show well worth checking out -- especially if you’re a sports fan. The lack of network faith was certainly no reflection of the show’s actual quality. By no means was it the greatest, but who’s to say that it wouldn’t have knocked it out of the park eventually?
5 AS IF
Across the pond in the UK, this short-lived soap sought to provide younger viewers with a show like the ultra popular Hollyoaks. The latter show continues to air daily to this day, whereas As If lingers in the foggy memories of television’s past.
The premise of the show is simple: a group of lovable misfits on the brink of adulthood navigate their way through life, love, and London. The colorful assembly includes a joker, a punk, a promiscuous type, a gay guy, a fashionista, and a sensitive soul who band together to encounter some fun and drama. The show was also notable for parodying pop culture, including nods to The Italian Job and The Blair Witch Project. While not without its dramatic moments, for the most part the show embraced its silliness.
As If was quite popular for a brief moment during its original syndication and has since amassed a small cult following in the years since - so much so that UK boy band McFly allegedly wrote their hit song “Five Colours in Her Hair” based on one of the characters. Furthermore, the show was given the American remake treatment in 2002, but that was even more short-lived.
Troubled youth finding redemption is a common trope in dramas featuring teenagers who are just trying to make sense of this world. Even those who’ve spent a great deal of their existence living on the wrong side of the law tend to have redeeming qualities. All it takes is for one character to see good in them and bring it out. Part of the appeal of watching these shows is to witness the misunderstood find their path in life. Who doesn’t love a good redemption story after all?
Wildfire is a tale in this wheelhouse, but with the benefit of horses thrown into the mix to endear the animal-lovers among us. In this one, we follow a troubled girl who, after serving some time in a teen detention center, is given the chance at a fresh start. Because she’s good with animals, she’s given a job on a horse ranch, and she finds the purpose she’d been lacking all this time.
Another trend when it comes to teen dramas is that their shelf life tends last for an average of three seasons before they expire. Like several other shows featured in this list, Wildfire’s flame spread for three years before the ABC executives grabbed the hose and put out the spark permanently.
Back in 2001 when this show was released, inserting digits into the middle of words was all the rage - just. Perhaps we can blame David Fincher for introducing the concept with Se7en in 1995. Comparing Sk8 to Se7en is a little extreme, though, because it was just forgettable for the most part.
The show contained storylines concerning the life of -- you guessed it -- a young skater and his relationships with his like-minded buddies. What made the show occasionally engrossing, however, were the skating sequences, some of which were performed by popular professional skateboarders. The show also employed a guerrilla filmmaking style which only added to its failed attempt to boast punk rock sensibilities. That said, at least the showrunners attempted to do something different and explore an interesting subculture.
The only downside is that the show didn’t resonate with skating culture enough to attract an audience who were most likely to appreciate it. Given that this subculture is popular on a global scale, there’s a lot of room for new shows that take place in the world of skating. Sk8’s mind and heart were in the right place, but it lacked depth and captivating storylines.
2 PALMETTO POINTE
Set in the eponymous beach town, Palmetto Pointe aired in 2005 and was canceled after one season due to low ratings and poor reviews. This was another series about loss, depression and tackling the hard issues, but the beach setting and young hormones ensured there was some partying and romance to alleviate the darkness. The show aimed to present a realistic view of what happens after high school, which is a good idea on paper as that’s a scary time for most people who face it.
The show followed a grieving young man who left his town to play baseball following the death of his parents. However, as he finds out, running away doesn’t accomplish anything and sooner or later he’ll have to face up to the problems he’s running from.
Baseball and teen angst could be an interesting mix, but the world just wasn’t interested at the time.
Palmetto Pointe drew comparisons to Dawson’s Creek, which isn’t too uncommon for shows of this ilk. However, if you’re a fan of that Dawson's Creek then you’re the target audience for this and it’s perhaps deserving of a second chance if you can find it anywhere. This is the poster child for forgettable teen drama shows.
1 LIFE AS WE KNOW IT
Based on Melvin Burgess’ novel Doing It, Life as We Know It followed the lives of a group of high school students in Seattle as they discovered their physical awakening. What else do you expect from a series based on a novel with that title, though?
On paper, Life As We Know It sounds like an American Pie-esque raunchy comedy, but it was very much PG-13 and assayed these edgy topics with a subtler bent. One of the storylines was about a student-pupil affair, but relations were the order of the day across the board and the show did an excellent job of examining the social pressures pertaining to the deed. Unfortunately, despite some stellar reviews, low viewership and protests from the Parents Television Council ensured that the show’s existence a short one.
Life as We Know It should have been a massive hit. On top of featuring an excellent cast which included Kelly Osbourne, Sean Faris, and Missy Peregrym, it also boasted an excellent theme song, “Sooner or Later” by Michael Tolcher that was right up there with Phantom Planet’s theme for The O.C. in terms of singalong joy.
What's your favorite forgotten 2000s show? Let us know in the comments!