Our Favorite Teen-Oriented Series of the Decade

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Now that we've run down our favorite action/adventure and procedural series of the decade, it's time to turn our attention to a decade's worth of teen-oriented TV. 

Like we've already said, there are many more favorites lists on the way, so for the sake of repetition, we've scaled some of these back to make these more fun. 

As always, these lists are in no particular order. 

Teen-Oriented

To qualify, a show that began in another decade had to be airing during the decade, run a larger number of seasons from 2010 through 2019 if it started before 2010 or run the entire decade. Here we go!

Elite Poster

Elite - Netflix (2018-Present)

Elite has a little bit of everything. It’s a show that has love, mystery, murder, and teenage drama all mixed together. And the combination provides us with a show that’s been a blast thus far.

The subject matter is heavy at times, but isn’t that real-life nowadays? In the age of binge-watching, Elite has been a binge-worthy treat over its first two seasons and shows no signs of slowing down.

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Pretty Little Liars - Freeform (2010-2017)

In its prime, Pretty Little Liars was a force to be reckoned with. Even though many argue that it dragged itself out too long and lost steam at the end, there is no denying that Pretty Little Liars is one of the most iconic teen shows of the decade.

Pretty Little Liars started with two solid mysteries: Who is the mysterious “A” and who “killed” Alison Dilaurentis? As the show progressed, the mysteries are solved, and new mysteries took their place.

At its heart, though, the real star of the show was the friendship between the Liars. The more trauma the girls went through together, the stronger their bonds got, and that is what kept fans watching.

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Daybreak - Netflix (2019)

Who knew that The Walking Dead meets Mean Girls could create such a fantastic TV show? Daybreak may have snuck in at the end, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is one of the best teen-oriented shows of this decade.

Focusing on the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that turned the adults of the world into zombies, leaving the kids to run the show, Daybreak is not a zombie show with teens, it is a teen show with zombies.

The show takes on highschool stereotypes and heightens them to new levels. The show is extremely self-aware, and that is what allows it to be so successful. The writers aren’t afraid to take shots at their protagonist, Josh, and show how flawed he is, but aren’t we all?

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Switched at Birth - ABC Family/Freeform (2011-2017)

Being a teenager is hard enough, but Bay and Daphne discovered right in the middle of their most tortured teen years that they had been switched at birth.

Bay’s wealthy upbringing with the Kennishes was nothing like Daphne’s with the Vasquezes, and the merging of their two families featured hard-won lessons for both.

Both girls discovered their heritage was nothing that they expected, and the Kennishes learned to deal with Daphne’s deafness.

But there was more love than ever to go around, and they learned that they’d never give up the lives they led before learning of the switch on Switched at Birth Season 3 Episode 22, a moving hour titled, “Yuletide Fortune Tellers.”

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One Tree Hill - The WB/The CW (2003-2012)

Before The CW offered only supernatural and superhero dramas, they prided themselves on angsty teen dramas.

One Tree Hill was a beloved, albeit ridiculous, teen series that could have labeled Dawson’s Creek its predecessor. Before venturing into absurd and laughable plot lines closer to One Tree Hill Season 5, the series focused on a feud between two half-brothers, Lucas and Nathan Scott, who both found themselves in the same school, on the same basketball team, and in love with the same girl.

As the coming-of-age show progressed, the brothers formed a bond, love-triangles were aplenty, the characters became your best friends, the music became the soundtrack to your developmental years, and to this day, you probably find yourself quoting lines from the show.

Many of us grew up with series, learning valuable lessons from the character’s mistakes. And many of us even learned the world was full of people like Dan Scott. Maybe the plot lines weren’t as outlandish as we thought?

Wait, no, this is the same show that gave us Nanny Carrie.

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Marvel’s Runaways - Hulu (2017-2019)

While the MCU has spanned many different forms of media, one of their best creations was Marvel’s Runaways.

It was the first show within the MCU that was geared towards teens while also still being centered around superheroes. There were the melodramatic storylines that any good teen show has and relationships that take the internet by storm.

But, of course, there was always a villain that the teens had to defeat. Marvel’s Runaways was the perfect mix of teen drama and superhero and coming-of-age, and it will surely be missed.

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Looking for Alaska - Hulu (2019)

Looking for Alaska, from the people who brought us The OC and Gossip Girl, was surprisingly grounded when compared to those two shows.

It was a faithful adaptation of the novel of the same name and successfully warmed up my cold dead heart. Let’s hope there won’t be a second season because the first was perfection.

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Riverdale - The CW (2017- Present)

It’s true that Riverdale is batshit crazy and that the characters are so far out of the realm of realistic depictions of teenagers that it’s hilarious. However, it is still one of the greatest teen-oriented shows the decade has provided us, and it’s still going strong.

The CW series inspired by the Archie comics was an instant hit and remains so. Following the core-four of Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and of course, Archie, on some super crazy adventures throughout a small little town called Riverdale, will have you glued to the screen every week.

It’s dark, sexy, crazy, with some of the best cast members, including iconic teen actors of yesteryear starring as parents of our current breed.

We will never forget the late Luke Perry, for example, and his influence on the series. It’s a series that knows how insane it is, and that makes it all the more appealing.

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On My Block - Netflix (2018-Present)

It’s a coming of age series about a group of Latinx, Afro-Latinx, and black youth growing up in a crime and gang riddled neighborhood and everything that it entails.

It’s a very classic and retro type of series, humorous, and relatable with fun, intriguing characters. But no other series focused on youth has beautifully captured elements of trauma, PTSD, and the complexities of gang life on a neighborhood and the youth.

It also subverts toxic masculinity at every time showing men and young boys who are just as warm as they are taught, men and boys who cry and are vulnerable and not afraid to express their love for each other.

It beautifully captures friendships and familial ties in an authentic and heartwarming way, all while being as thrilling and emotional as it is funny.

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The Lying Game - Freeform (2011-2013)

Loosely based on a book series by Sara Shepard, this series followed two teens who didn't know they were twins. It took a classic concept of secret twins from different walks of life (one a kind-hearted foster kid and the other a spoiled brat from a wealthy family) with two totally different personality types and had them switch places.

It tossed in a heaping dose of murder, sex, secrets, and resulted in a soapy, teen drama filled with intrigue and dropping revelations. This series was driven by relationships, both romantic and familial. Nobody was a straight-up villain, and it was hard to know what to expect.

The series really did not follow the books at all, which made its cancelation on a cliffhanger all the more tragic as we will never know who the killer was or how the story was supposed to end.

We do know that, as tumultuous as their relationship was, as much as they were competitive and resentful and in love with the same guy, Sutton and Emma loved each other and were better for having met.

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Awkward - MTV (2011-2016)

Teen life is awkward AF. Between the missteps of dating life and embarrassing yourself in high school, no better show captured that feeling than MTV’s Awkward.

Focusing on the dynamics between social outcast Jenna and her friends/romances/enemies, Awkward unabashedly owned its self-deprecating tone.

These teens exuded sarcasm and dropped some of the best one-liners that still live on in GIF infamy. If you haven’t watched it yet, start binge-watching it now. As Sadie would say, “You’re welcome!”

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The Carrie Diaries - The CW (2013-2014)

Have you ever wondered how Carrie Bradshaw’s life was like before she moved permanently to New York City?

The Carrie Diaries explored the sex writer’s early past as an ‘80s teen balancing her life in high school and her aspirations of working in the city.

While some Sex and The City fans didn’t like that the character was based on the “Carrie” in the book series as compared to the HBO TV series, this new teen Carrie still had all the heart, fashion sense, and dating troubles that made us fall in love with her in the first place.

The Carrie Diaries was a beautifully genuine series that highlighted her close friendships, the love between her family, and a few familiar characters popping up along the way, like the charismatic Samantha Jones.

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Shake It Up - Disney Channel (2010-2013)

Whether you were a teen or a pre-teen, Shake It Up was the show you wish you could be on.

Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be dancing on a popular teen series? Shake It Up followed Rocky and CeCe as they got hired on as dancers in a local music and dance show.

The series had plenty of laughs, comedic plots, and amazing dance numbers that showcased the talents of its young cast. As with many Disney Channel shows, the series was the launching pad for some memorable names today, like Zendaya and Bella Thorne.

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Faking It - MTV (2014-2016)

Faking It was one of MTV’s underrated gems that should’ve lasted longer than it did.

The series first focused on the lie of Karma and Amy being in a relationship together for high school popularity. but Faking It soon developed into a series that discussed many social issues, like same-sex relationships, gender stereotypes, being intersex, and high school politics.

It balanced both in-your-face humor and serious discussions. Faking It had a lot of heart … and the scene of Amy revealing her love for Karma and getting rejected is still a heartbreaking moment to this day!

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Shadowhunters - Freeform (2016-2019)

Shadowhunters is the show that got better and better with each season!

Sure, Shadowhunters Season 1 had a few bumps stylistically, but once Shadowhunters Season 2 hit, the series rose like a phoenix into becoming one of the best teen series during the decade.

Inspired by the book series, Shadowhunters centered on Clary Fairchild as she discovered that she was a Shadowhunter and secretly part of a supernatural world.

The series had plenty of action, intrigue, and drama between the characters as they fought against evil. With great romances to ship (#Malec) and a stellar cast/plot, Shadowhunters fostered a devoted fandom that connected to the lives of the characters.

What's your favorite teen-oriented series? If yours didn't make the list, be sure to hit the comments with your choice!

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