The crown jewel of The N, a teen block of programming on cable channel the Noggin. Degrassi: The Next Generation, now more commonly referred to as Degrassi, was actually a spin-off, following the teenage life of Emma Nelson (Miriam McDonald)—a baby who was born in the '80s series Degrassi Junior High—and her friends. The ensemble cast featured several future stars, including Aubrey "Drake" Graham, Nina Dobrev and 90210's Shenae Grimes.
Your favorite little study buddy, he knows the deal. Smart Guy chronicled the adventures of child prodigy T.J. Henderson, played by Tia and Tamera Mowry's little brother Tahj Mowry, as he attended high school with his older siblings. It was essentially the late '90s Young Sheldon.
The series ran for three seasons between 1997 and 1999 on The WB. (And for those of you confused, Smart Guy aired reruns on Disney Channel—we had to look it up too.)
The sarcastic titular character in Daria made countless teens in the '90s feel seen. The animated comedy ran for five seasons between 1997 and 2002 on MTV, giving satiric insight into what it was like to be a misanthropic teenager. (Question for fans: Are you too waiting for Sick, Sad World to be made into a real show?)
We've been thinking about Instant Star for "24 Hours." Well, actually more like 18 years.
The Canadian musical-comedy debuted on CTV and The N in 2004, running for four seasons before ending in 2008. Instant Star followed teenage singing competition champion Jude Harrison (Alexz Johnson) as she embraced overnight fame and began working on her album with former boybander-turned-producer Tom Quincy (Tim Rozon). Shout out to the super fans that downloaded every song from the show onto their iPod shuffle.
No, Cousin Skeeter wasn't a fever dream, there really was a sitcom starring a puppet alongside real, live people on Nickelodeon. Airing between 1998 and 2001, Cousin Skeeter told the story of a mischievous teenage Skeeter—who was made of felt—as he moved in with his aunt, uncle and, most importantly, cousin Bobby (Robert Ri'chard). Looking back, we're still blown away by the guest star list, which included Shaquille O'Neal, TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and Tisha Campbell.
As Told by Ginger made pre-teens feel seen in the early '00s. The Nickelodeon animated-comedy followed Ginger Foutley (voiced by Melissa Disney) as she tried to navigate life as a junior high dweeb. We personally related to the leg shavings episode. IYKYK.
South of Nowhere was one of the first queer positive teen dramas we encountered growing up, as it told the story of Spencer Carlin (Gabrielle Christian), a teenage girl discovering her sexual identity after befriending bisexual Ashley Davies (Mandy Musgrave) at a new school. The show ran for three seasons between 2005 and 2008 on The N.
Grounded for Life was about an Irish-Catholic family in New York, led by mom (Claudia Megyn Price) and dad Sean (Donal Logue), who are just trying to get by without a daily catastrophe caused by their kids. Throw in some high jinks by wacky uncle Eddie (Kevin Corrigan) and grandpa Walt (Richard Riehle), and you've got yourself an after school classic.
The series, which debuted in 2001, aired for two seasons on Fox before moving to the WB for its final three seasons.
Remember Fox Family? We do, thanks to the channel's animated comedy Braceface. The show starred Alicia Silverstone as Sharon Spitz, a junior high student with an abnormally gifted pair of braces. Seeing Sharon hack phone calls with her braces made life as a metal mouth in fifth grade way more bearable.
Amanda Bynes and Jennie Garth played sisters-turned-roommates in this hilarious comedy from The WB. The series, which also starred Simon Rex, Leslie Grossman and Wesley Jonathan, ran for four seasons between 2002 and 2006. The sitcom was just the icing on the cake that was Bynes' acting renaissance in the '00s.
Life with Derek was an underrated Disney Channel gem. Starring Ashley Leggat and Michael Seater as stepsiblings constantly at war with one another, the series first debuted on Canada's Family Channel in 2005, with Disney Channel later airing the episodes. It ran for four seasons.
8 Simple Rules was so much more than a family sitcom. While the first season was hilarious thanks to John Ritter and Katey Sagal playing parents to three teenagers, played Kaley Cuoco, Amy Davidson and Martin Spanjers, the comedy found even more heart and depth after the untimely death of Ritter in 2005. James Garner and David Spade joined the cast to play the kids' grandfather and uncle, respectively, and explored storylines about how the TV family moved on from losing their patriarch.
Being a teenager is hard! But imagine being a teenager and a mermaid, that's even harder.
H2O: Just Add Water, an Australian series, followed mermaids Emma, Rikki and Cleo—played by Cariba Heine, Claire Holt and Phoebe Tonkin—as they tried to keep their fishy secret at a human high school.
They were riders on a mission and brought us along for the ride! The 1999 Nickelodeon animated series took the era's fascination with extreme sports and put it in the world of kids. Throughout Rocket Power's four seasons, we saw Reggie, Otto and the gang surf, skateboard, snowboard and more. We have one word for fans, "Woogity."
Radio Free Roscoe, a Canadian teen dramedy, followed four high school teens—played by Al Mukadam, Nathan Stephenson, Kate Todd and Nathan Carter—as they ran an underground radio station at their school. For teens struggling to find their power and voice, this four-season show was certainly an inspiration.