Although most shows wind up going too far at one point or another, teen dramas are guiltier of it than most. This is probably due to the fact that life as a teenager is pretty dramatic. Everything is life or death, the end of the world or paradise, with little room for middle ground. It only makes sense that dramatic shows aimed at that particular demographic would have a propensity for melodrama.
We are all shaped by those formative years, which is why the best of these shows manage to resonate with viewers of all ages. Still, just like people, TV shows can lose their way. How well or poorly they rebound from that is what separates the classics from the passing diversions.
Going too far isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Pushing boundaries is an important aspect of any good series, and let’s be honest, life itself can be over the top sometimes. That being said, while sometimes shocking developments made narrative sense, making way for even more interesting stories to be told, other times, these plot lines added nothing, only detracting from the overall quality of the show.
Here are 15 Times That Teen Dramas Went Way Too Far.
15. Gilmore Girls – Rory with a married man
Many Gilmore Girls fans would’ve been open to a Rory/Dean reunion, had Rory’s former flame not been a married man at the time.
Don’t get us wrong: the dissolution of Dean’s doomed marriage was not Rory’s fault.
He chose to marry someone else while he was still in love with Rory. Both of them were in the wrong, but perhaps we just expected more from Rory Gilmore.
Sure, we’d love to give Rory the benefit of the doubt here, considering how young she was. However, the Rory in A Year in the Life was a grown woman and clearly not much had changed. She was having an affair with Logan, who was very much engaged to someone else, while she technically still had her own very forgettable boyfriend.
14. 90210 – Annie’s hit and run
Unlike The O.C. or Gossip Girl, 90210 never became all that successful. It certainly didn’t generate the love that the original ‘90s series did, probably because most of the characters really weren’t all that likable. Say what you want about Brenda Walsh, but fans rooted for her. Unfortunately, the same can’t really be said for Annie Wilson.
Making Annie guilty of an inebriated hit and run certainly didn’t do her any favors.
As terrible as this storyline was, it was made much worse but the fact that Annie then wound up dating the psychotic nephew of the man she’d killed.
90210 could’ve found a way to build an engaging story from Annie’s accident, but instead the writers gave her one ludicrous plot point after another. Maybe if we cared about Annie to begin with, her downward spiral would’ve had more of an impact.
13. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Seeing Red”
Over the course of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s latter seasons, fans had fallen hard for Spike and many seemed to feel that it was strange that Buffy hadn’t. The infamous bathroom scene in “Seeing Red” basically accomplished the same thing that Angelus snapping Jenny Calendar’s neck did. It reminded the audience that regardless of their feelings for this creature, he was unequivocally evil. Spike may have been more emotional than Angelus, but in the end, both were soulless monsters.
The scene was based on one writer’s experience, except that she was Spike in that scenario. However, as James Masters has recounted, switching the genders here had a horrifying effect, not just on viewers, but on Marsters himself. The actor broke down several times while filming the scene.
12. Friday Night Lights – Tyra and Landry vs the stalker
The thing about this plot line is that, although it was seen by many as going too far, once these events were put in motion, the writers dealt with it in rather spectacular fashion.
However, the whole story felt out of place on Friday Night Lights.
It altered the relationship between Tyra and Landry, making it revolve around this shared tragedy and kind of undermining the initial bond formed between them.
Throughout its first season, Friday Night Lights had proven itself excellent at weaving stories from the simple drama of day-to-day life, not from soap-operatic melodrama. Regardless of how well the series dealt with the resulting arc, this story simply felt like it belonged on a different show.
11. 13 Reasons Why – showing Hannah’s final moments
There are no spoilers here. We all knew that 13 Reasons Why would culminate in Hannah taking her own life. The question is, did we need to see it graphically laid out for us?
Of course, this depends on who you ask. The viewer watches Hannah until her final breaths. There was nothing romantic about this depiction and there are plenty who’ve deemed the scene necessary. However, while some feel that this was the best way to handle such delicate and painful subject matter, others think that it reads as a how-to manual for taking one’s life.
Yes, the episode is prefaced by an explicit warning of what’s to come, but the series is aimed at teens, and there are a great many viewers who felt that, in the case of something this triggering to so many, telling would’ve been better than showing.
10. Gossip Girl – Chuck Bass in the pilot
Gossip Girl has plenty of storylines that could be deemed to have gone way too far: Lily’s ex-husband faking her cancer, Chuck trading Blair for a hotel, and Dan’s final reveal as Gossip Girl, just to name a few.
However, we would argue that the most egregious miscalculation the series ever made was in the way that they introduced Chuck Bass.
Sure, it’s likely that when the writers had Chuck attempt to force himself on both Serena and Jenny in the pilot, they hadn’t yet realized how popular the character would become. That doesn’t really matter though, because they never even really had Chuck redeem himself in any sort of meaningful way before turning him into a romantic lead.
9. The O.C. – Seth burns down the Newport group
Josh Schwartz was the architect behind The O.C. before he and producing partner Stephanie Savage moved over to the Upper East Side with Gossip Girl. So, it’s not too surprising that the shows followed similar trajectories, both becoming cultural phenomenons before eventually falling from grace by going hopelessly off the rails – not that this makes us love them any less.
Again, there are many plot lines to choose from, but we’re going with this one for the sheer levels of ridiculousness. Seth smokes the devil’s lettuce all of three times before burning down a building. This is a fairly dramatic way to show the dangers of substance use.
8. One Tree Hill – Dan’s heart gets stolen by a dog
One Tree Hill is another series that has a long list of options in terms of going too far, but few moments were quite as over the top as this one.
Sure, Dan Scott was always the villain of the piece, so it’s not unreasonable to want to see his opportunity for a heart transplant vanish into thin air – or in this case, into a dog’s stomach.
No one could’ve predicted that Dan’s life-saving operation would result in such utter hilarity.
This was ostensibly serious subject matter, so one would think that One Tree Hill would wrap it up with the melodrama it had become known for. Never mind the fact that the cooler carrying the vital organ was somehow not secured or why a hungry Golden Retriever was in the hospital. No need to attempt to bring logic into a situation that clearly had none.
7. Pretty Little Liars – A.D. steals Emily’s eggs… and uses them
There were plenty of ridiculous plot lines to choose from, but having A.D. implant Alison with Emily’s eggs was too over the top, even for Pretty Little Liars. This was a fan theory before being confirmed on the show, but that doesn’t make it a better idea.
There had to be another way to bring Alison and Emily together.
In a series where the bizarre has become increasingly normal, Alison being impregnated in this way is not only crazy, but seriously gross. Let’s also not forget that this is a complex process that has been way oversimplified in order to make this insane plot point stick.
6. Veronica Mars – Cassidy causing the bus crash
Veronica Mars was the show that had everything: the central mystery of Twin Peaks, the socioeconomic divide of The Outsiders, and a heroine who was an amalgam of Buffy Summers and Nancy Drew.
One of the most impressive aspects of the series was the way that answers to its season-long questions never underestimated the intelligence of the viewer. The season 2 mystery was no different. It was not only plausible, but no one saw it coming.
However, unlike the first season’s reveal of Aaron Echolls as the killer, the revelation that Cassidy caused the bus crash was heartbreaking.
Sure, fans wouldn’t have predicted this outcome, but that’s because everyone loved Beaver! In many ways, that’s the reason why this plot twist worked, despite the fact that it went too far. This shocking development may have made for good TV, but we’re still sad about it.
5. Glee – Casual treatment of Ryder’s past
Glee dealt with many important topics, from coming out tovioelnce, but did so with varying levels of success. This was certainly the case when the series yet again attempted to take on assault.
After Ryder admitted to having been abused, his so-called friends didn’t seem to get what the big deal was. Sure, you can say that Sam and Artie viewing this as “every teenage boy’s fantasy” was just them being ignorant and insensitive, but generally, these kids have been very supportive to one another, so it was kind of a strange moment.
At least Kitty bonded with Ryder over a shared trauma and they ended the episode with a PSA. Still, it was never brought up again and was another example of assault dealt with on Glee in a rather insensitive way.
4. Dawson’s Creek – Pacey and his teacher
Although the dialogue on Dawson’s Creek rarely came close to the way that any actual teens spoke, the situations that writers wrote about were generally fairly accurate depictions of teen angst. This made Pacey’s relationship with his teacher, Tamara Jacobs, feel a bit out of place.
The storyline had all the trappings of fantasy, without much hint of the damage that occurs in reality. Luckily, it didn’t last too long and although Kevin Williamson has no regrets over telling the controversial arc, he feels that it wouldn’t necessarily fly today.
He’s not wrong. Riverdale got so much flak for the affair between Archie and Miss Grundy that the story was not only cut short, but Grundy was killed off, as if hoping to purge the arc from the series altogether.
3. Riverdale – Betty and Chic’s online adventures
Speaking of Riverdale, the series has always managed to embrace its outdated source material to great effect, finding clever new ways to tell tired old stories. The characters have been reinvented, the action is tightly coiled and the mysteries are slowly spooled out. Sure, the series is not without its flaws, but many fans would argue that its exaggerated nature is what make Riverdale so much fun to watch.
All of that being said, Betty’s most recent storyline seems to have gone a bit off the rails.
Instead of dealing with her issues in any sort of meaningful way, Betty gets another unnecessary sibling and her strangest arc yet… as a cam girl? The initial reveal of this had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the episode. Losing that scene not only would’ve improved upon it, but also would’ve cost the actual story absolutely nothing.
2. Skins – Chris, Freddie, and Grace’s fates
When comparing Skins to other shows of its ilk – especially in 2007 – it’s easy to see what set it apart. There were no lavish backdrops, no adult dialogue transposed into the mouths of teens, and no censoring of bad behavior. It was a series where the actors were not much older than the characters they portrayed and the median age in the writers’ room was twenty-two.
Sure, not all teens lived in such debauchery. However, it was wishful thinking on the part of parents to assume that the show would be a bad influence rather than a reflection of actual teenage life.
If anything strained credulity, it was the death toll of the series. Killing off a member of every “generation” seemed to have little purpose, save shock value, at least for Freddie and Grace. Why would parents even keep sending their kids to that school?
1. Felicity – Time travel
There are plenty of shows in which time travel is an excellent idea. When done well, it is a fun plot device that can be utilized to write stories that would otherwise be impossible to tell. However, Felicity was very much set in the real world and had no previous inkling of anything time travel related. So, sending Felicity back a year was a strange decision to say the least, even if the series was granted another five episodes writers were unprepared for.
After realizing that she made some less than stellar choices, Felicity is sent back in time by her Wiccan roomate.
Sadly, she learns nothing from this experience and the viewer is forced to watch her put together a collection of mystical artifacts to return things to the way that they were. Whether this actually worked or not isn’t the point, because everyone had already stopped caring.
Can you think of other instances where teen dramas went too far? Let us know in the comments!
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