From Beverly Hills to Glee – the best ever US teen TV dramas

The series from across the pond that we just can’t live without.

As Riverdale returns to our screens for a second season, we can't wait to find out what happens to the Archie Comics gang this time.

It’s the latest in a long line of must-see teen dramas that have come out of the US and proved a hit with UK audiences, leaving us hungry for more episodes from the front line of high school life.

[Read more: Riverdale - everything we know about season 2]

We look back over some of the teen series that changed the face of TV viewing for young and not-so-young fans.

Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000)

The mother of all teen TV series, Beverly Hills 90210 managed an impressive 10 years on air as cult viewing.

It launched the careers of Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Luke Perry (who’s now starring in Riverdale), Tori Spelling and Hilary Swank, to name just a few of its now-illustrious cast members.

Chronicling the lives of a privileged group of high school students living in one of the US’s most exclusive ZIP codes, it tackled groundbreaking themes such as teenage pregnancy, eating disorders, homophobia and date rape during its time on the box.

The original Beverly Hills 90210 was so successful that it also spawned three spin-offs – Melrose Place, Models Inc and rebooted series 90210.

My So-Called Life (1994-1995)

Was the Claire Danes and Jared Leto starrer really only on screen for one season?

Its time in the spotlight may have been short-lived, but My So-Called Life stayed long in the memory of fans who couldn’t get enough of the angsty, grungy show that seemed a perfect representation of teen life in the 90s.

There was little to be cheerful about in this version of US high school, with child abuse, teenage alcoholism and homelessness all used as recurring storylines. However, that didn’t stop us becoming besotted with Angela and Jordan’s love story, as portrayed by then-unknown actors Danes and Leto.

[Read more: Jared Leto goes from worst dressed to man of the year]

Being in the single-series drama obviously did their careers no harm, as Danes went on to win Emmys and Golden Globes for Homeland as well as picking up a Globe for the teen drama itself, while Leto got an Oscar for his portrayal of a transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Few teen series have done more to influence the cultural landscape than Buffy, with its characters and storylines still instantly recognisable 14 years after it wrapped.

Sarah Michelle Gellar starred as the vampire-fighting student, alongside Anthony Head as her mentor and Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendan, David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter as her friends.

Created by comic adaptation legend Joss Whedon, the series gained a cult following for its supernatural storylines and high-adrenaline action scenes. It also made a star of Boreanaz when his character proved so popular that he got his own related series, Angel.

A piece of teen series trivia – the programme was based on a 1992 film of the same name with a different cast which included Beverly Hills 90210 star Luke Perry.

Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003)

For the raw emotion, tear-jerking romance and all-encompassing drama of being a teen, few shows can beat Dawson’s Creek.

It featured a cast who went on to become hugely successful - James Van Der Beek as Dawson, Katie Holmes as his girlfriend Joey, and Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams as their friends Pacey and Jen.

Tales of difficult home lives, complicated love stories and friendships made and broken was compulsive viewing for its young fans who still remember the romantic epic of Dawson and Joey’s relationship.

The OC (2003-2007)

Back on familiar territory with spoilt brat rich kids, sparkling beaches and a character or two from the wrong side of the tracks, The OC filled the gap left by the recently departed Beverly Hills 90210.

The programme set in Orange County’s most luxurious addresses saw Mischa Barton graduate from child star to fully-fledged actress and had viewers swooning over Seth and Summer’s romance which crossed over into real life for actors Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson.

Its supporting cast was something to behold – Neighbours legend Alan Dale played Seth’s evil businessman granddad, Olivia Wilde got a big break as his edgy new girlfriend in later series, and Tate Donovan featured as Barton’s character Marisa’s dad.

Gossip Girl (2007-2012)

A relatively new kid on the block, Gossip Girl had all the hallmarks of a classic teen drama. Wealthy, privileged characters – check; glamorous setting – check; rising star cast – check.

Here, the action was set in a Manhattan high school where a popular student had just returned from boarding school, rattling the cages of her former friends and rivals. A blogger who somehow knew every character’s secrets published updates that exposed secrets and lead to arguments and backstabbing.

[Read more: Blake Lively says Ryan Reynolds fakes tweets]

The glossy world of New York’s elite was narrated by Hollywood star Kristen Bell, who was the voice of trouble-stirring blogger Gossip Girl, and featured a cast including Blake Lively, Leighton Meester and Taylor Momsen.

So popular was the show that it was remade in a number of other countries, including Turkey, China, Mexico and Thailand. X O X O, Gossip Girl.

Glee (2009-2015)

When Glee burst onto the teen TV scene in 2009, viewers had never before seen anything like it. Combining the usual angst-ridden storylines with comedy and a packed timetable of singing and dancing, it was like a musical in series form.

Lea Michele played Rachel, the star of the school singing group, who fell in love with new recruit Finn (Cory Monteith) – making her an immediate rival of his ex and the school’s queen bee Quinn (Dianna Agron). The cast also included Matthew Morrison as their music teacher and Jane Lynch as the mean cheerleading coach with some hilarious one-liners.

[Read more: Lea Michele's emotional tribute to Cory Monteith]

As the group chased stardom through a national school singing contest, their lives were played out through song, keeping viewers tuning in each week to see which hits they would be remixing. It attracted an extremely starry guest cast, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Helen Mirren, Idina Menzel, Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris and Jeff Goldblum. Regular cast member Amber Riley also went on to become a West End star.

Michele and Monteith’s romance ended up continuing off screen, but tragedy hit the show when Monteith died from taking a mix of heroin and alcohol in 2013. The season that included a tribute episode to him was the final one.

Riverdale returns to Netflix with episodes released weekly from Thursday, October 12.

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