Yay! Summer’s here! (What’s that? You live somewhere that’s had summer weather for months now? Or summer weather year-round? Shhhh, just let your cold climate friend enjoy this, OK?) But with the arrival of more excuses to day drink comes a dearth of TV programming. So if you’ve exhausted all the current summer viewing options, I’ve got some suggestions for y’all!

With FYA’s Gilmore Girls and Young Americans rewatch projects currently underway, I’ve been thinking a lot about shows of the past. More specifically, the shows that don’t get enough love. (Though, really, my super scientific criteria is just shows that I’d like to talk about.) So here they are, compiled by the fond nostalgia of youth (rather than the bitter snark of sorta-adulthood), and listed by length of show, from summer fling to long-term commitment.

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Title: Opposite Sex 
Released: 2000
Length of Commitment: 1 season, 8 episodes
Platform: Youtube

The Deal

In a total boy fantasy premise, Jed is beginning his sophomore year at Evergreen Academy — a formerly all-girls school, with him as one of the first male students. Except TWIST! He’s not that jazzed about it, and it’s not all Letters to Penthouse. 

Why You Should Watch

Based on my rewatch of the pilot, I’m not sure if you actually should. Sure, there’s smiley non-broody Milo, and the series basically starts with him shirtless (it’s OK! He was 23!). And there are a lot of dated trends and music, although maybe that’s not so much an argument for it, as it is against it.

But my inner feminist is sort of confused about how this show makes me feel. There’s a storyline in the pilot with Jed campaigning for the school to better accommodate its male students. And while I agree that the school should treat all its students fairly, the show is asking me to cheer for these straight white boys in their quest for equality, when pretty much the rest of the world already caters to them. (GAHHH being a grownup ruins EVERYTHING.)

Howevs, the opening credits are so delightfully cheesy, harkening to the original 90210 credits of yore. Even if you don’t plan on watching the show, you should at least check that out.

Familiar Faces

The aforementioned Milo Ventimiglia stars as Jed, and his hair is bad enough to rival early Dean! And Allison Mack is her magnificent self as Kate, the brainy girl who constantly challenges Jed, and the one who he should actually be crushing on (because OBVIOUSLY. She’s Allison Mack. How dare you resist her charms, Jed.). [EDIT 2023/03/08: Um, a lot has changed about Allison Mack in the 10 years since this post was published!]

Kyle Howard is nerdy keener Phil, and change-resistant Stella is played by Lindsey McKeon (from such things as Saved by the Bell: The New Class and reaper Tessa on Supernatural). And yes, America — that is your Captain, Chris Evans, as horndog Cary.

Title: Grosse Pointe 
Released: 2000-2001
Length of Commitment: 1 season, 17 episodes (half-hour)
Platforms: DVD; maybe Youtube, but it’s tough to find (here’s the opening scene though)

The Deal

Grosse Pointe is a hit teen soap (if only that were true IRL!), in which the dramz onscreen is nothing compared to what’s going on behind the scenes. Insults, schemes, tantrums  — and that’s just one girl. Welcome to how the magic happens, people.

Why You Should Watch

Well, I know at least one of you have already seen it (hi, Elissa R!). For the rest of y’all, the show (the real one, not the show within the show) was inspired by Darren Star’s experiences on Beverly Hills, 90210.* And I not-so-secretly love gossipy, behind-the-scenes tell-all things that give the REAL scoop. Plus, the show is hilars and parodies a type of shows that is clearly near and dear to me.

And to this day, I still associate the song “Sex Bomb” with this.

*Yet another reason to hate the CW 90210, ’cause it used to be that you could say 90210 without the need to clarify. Grumble grumble I’m old.

Familiar Faces

The Tori Spelling character is played by Lindsay Sloane, who — along with being Big Red in Bring It On — has worked with Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) and is besties with Sarah Michelle Gellar. I’m not sure if she’d be my friend since I don’t have three names — but Lindsay Sloane, can I just BE you?!

This was actually the first thing I’ve ever seen Irene Molloy in, but she’s so deserving of a shout-out. Her character Hunter is the brand of batshizz crazy that you love to watch on TV but would get restraining orders against if you actually knew her. (It should also come to no surprise that Hunter is the Shannen Doherty.) And in one of my dream TV crossovers, Hunter Fallow would meet up with Amanda Tannen from Ugly Betty. They’d exchange either BFF charms or verbal spars. Either way, WE ALL WIN.

Bonnie Sommerville (FriendsThe O.C.) plays the new addition to the cast, so obvs Hunter hates her with the inferno of a thousand burning suns. And hey, it’s Kyle Howard again — this time, as Dave the stand-in. I don’t know how this became the Kyle Howard Appreciation Post, but here we are.

Title: Get Real 
Released: 1999-2000
Length of Commitment: 1 season, 22 episodes
Platform: Youtube

The Deal

Meet the Greens. They’re just your typical family: Mom and Dad fight; overachiever Meghan is having second thoughts about her future; slacker Cameron can’t keep it in his pants; and the youngest Kenny is just trying to survive high school. 

Kenny’s probably the central character, but the Green kids all take turns narrating the show, often breaking the fourth wall. In other words, they get real.

Why You Should Watch

Well, I’m pretty sure this is the only one of my rec’s with a main cast that has multiple Oscar-nominated/winning actors. And Jesse Eisenberg is pretty adorable, which is worth the price of admission alone.

Upon rewatch of the pilot, I actually LOL’d a few times! There are tons of dated pop culture references (and BEEPERS! Dennis Duffy would be proud, dummy.) — a positive for me, though you may feel differently. Though the music in the first scene is o.ver.wrought (and the song gets reused, so… joy). But if all else fails, there’s a built-in drinking game rule for every time someone says “get real”.

Familiar Faces

A pre-Princess Mia Anne Hathaway (Meghan) and even more babyfaced Jesse Eisenberg (Kenny) are the most noteworthy. Also in this show are Eric Christian Olsen (Cameron), aka Tiny Nips Vaughn and whomever he is on whichever NCIS, and Grandma is played by Ross and Monica’s mom, Christina Pickles. The pilot also features January Jones and Taryn Manning as girls Kenny drools over.

Title: Higher Ground 
Released: 2000
Length of Commitment: 1 season, 22 episodes
Platforms: Netflix (Canada)Youtube

The Deal

Reader Sara D. actually suggested this, but to be honest, I only have a vague recollection of this show. So I’ve enlisted the help of Mandy C.:

Higher Ground is a show about a group of juvenile delinquents who, at heart, are really just misunderstood. The kids attend rehab Mount Horizon High School in the middle of a forest in the Pacific Northwest and are expected to take part in a variety of summer camp-like activities while coming to terms with their myriad of issues and addictions. Of course, when you stick a bunch of wounded teenagers in a controlled locale that is hidden away from the rest of the world, all sorts of shizz is bound to happen.

Why You Should Watch

Sometimes, a show comes along that you can’t help but watch, regardless of how ridiculous the plot gets. Higher Ground is one of those shows—it’s all about the drams.

The main thing I remember about the show, however, is falling for uber emo bad boy Scott (Hayden Christensen). There was something about the damaged character that called to my inner Florence Nightingale. (In addition, there’s one role that Hayden can do well, and that’s the role of the damaged teen.)

Familiar Faces

This cast has tons of Canadians! Of course, there’s Hayden C., before he ever held anyone by the lake of Naboo. Also starring in this show are:

  • a pre-Firefly Jewel Staite (Daisy);
  • Meghan Ory (Juliette), aka Red on Once Upon a Time (but who I actually remembered more from Vampire High, which is exactly as terrible as how you’re imagining it);
  • A.J. Cook (Shelby), from Final DestinationCriminal Minds, and — oh holy shizz, she was on Tru Calling?!; and
  • Emmanuelle Vaugier (“Scott’s evil stepmother”, says Wiki), who has played a lot of vixen-y types in a lot of things (including Bryan Greenberg’s babymamma on One Tree Hill).

Overseeing this high school of ne’er-do-wells is Sully himself, Joe Lando.

Title: Everwood 
Released: 2002-2006
Length of Commitment: 4 season, 89 episodes
Platforms: DVD; Freevee; maybe Youtube, but you’ll have to wade through all the swimfantages

The Deal

Following the death of his wife, neurosurgeon Dr. Andy Brown and his kids relocate from Manhattan to a small Colorado town. Not only do they have to adjust to a completely different environment, but they’ve also got to deal with the death of their wife and mother, and what their relationships with each other will be like moving forward.

Why You Should Watch

When this show first aired, it came at the heels of the single-parent juggernaut, Gilmore Girls. (You may have heard that we like that show around here.) But it’s more grounded and less quirky, and it solicits WAY more tears. And the Browns have a much rockier family dynamic — which, again, more conducive to tears.

OK, so it’s not all crying. There’s a ton of good acting, grand sweeping scores, and the purple mountain majesty of the Rockies. (Plus: humour! It’s not quite the gloomfest I’m making it out to be. Though you should still anticipate feelings.) It may be a little serious for carefree summer viewing, but it’s great for marathoning.

Familiar Faces


This show has everyone. </Stefon> First on this list (and in my childhood heart) is Gregory Smith as Ephram, who also starred in Small Soldiers, the first Zenon movie, and a crappy A Wrinkle In Time adaptation. He’s now on the summer cop show Rookie Blue with Hottest Human Alive, Missy Peregrym. Amy, the object of Ephram’s affections, is played by Emily VanCamp, she of the Hamptons Revengers. And Amy’s brother is CHRIS EFFIN’ PRATT, so it didn’t take much to look past the character’s ridiculous name of Bright.

There are grownups in this thing, too! Awesome grownups, such as Treat Williams at his burly mountain man best as the Brown family patriarch. Tom Amandes is Harold Abbott, the rival doctor (and father to Amy and Bright, so he’s to blame for that name choice). And Debra Mooney is Andy’s nurse — and Harold’s mom — Edna, a crotchety gem of a lady.

But wait! There’s more! Like the Doctors Sarah, Lancaster (Chuck) and Drew (Grey’s Anatomy). There are Salingers (Scott Wolf), Desperate Housewives (Mary Alice, Marcia Cross), and Heroes villains (Nora Zehetner). And when you keep watching long enough, you’ll eventually come across Paul Wesley. That’s right — he’s been playing a teenager for over a decade. Careful, Paul; you’re entering Bianca Lawson territory,


And since there are way too many YA shows to name (because I watch(ed) wayyyy too much TV), here are even more suggestions! 

Title: Clone High 
Released: 2002
Length of Commitment: 1 season, 13 episodes (half-hour)
Platforms: DVD; Paramount+; Roku Channel

Ever wonder what would happen if clones of famous historical figures went to high school together? Well, WONDER NO MORE. This series follows awkward Abe Lincoln, goth Joan of Arc, hyperactive Gandhi, big man on campus JFK, and Mean Girl cheerleader Cleopatra. The voice cast boasts nearly everyone from Scrubs and guest stars like MANDY MOORE, patron saint of FYA. This show would have made the cut if this was YA Cartoons That Time Forgot.

Title: Wonderfalls 
Released: 2005
Length of Commitment: 1 season, 13 episodes
Platform: DVD

Jaye’s ridiculously overeducated for her cashier job at a Niagara Falls gift shop. And a lot of animal figurines talk to her. Plus: Bryan Fuller, Caroline Dhavernas, and my beloved Lee Pace. But based on my completely unscientific methods of measurement, this show gets an appropriate amount of props.

Title: Privileged 
Released: 2008
Length of Commitment: 1 season, 18 episodes
Platform: Amazon Prime

This series is actually a YA adaptation of Zoey Dean’s How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls, which sounds exactly like a title I could never turn down. I originally planned on giving this show the full treatment, but it was eventually downgraded because the main character’s a bit of a dud. But everyone around her is much better, and there are eccentric rich people involved. It’s fun and light — as in, perfect for summer.

Joanna García-before-the-Swisher is Megan Smith, a bright journalism grad who’s languishing at a dead-end job. But then she accepts an offer to be the live-in tutor of twin teenage girls — one of whom is played by Lucy Hale, in a rare role in which she plays as a human that knows how to properly dress herself. The supporting cast includes Dave Franco as an adorable love interest of Lucy Hale; Michael Cassidy as Megan’s best guy friend Charlie (but with much better hair than his days on The O.C.); and that girl who plays Mads on The Lying Game as Charlie’s co-worker, Mandy (a name I only remembered because apparently I’m a narcissist).

Title: Jack & Bobby
Released: 2004
Length of Commitment: 1 season, 22 episodes
Platform: Amazon Prime

Well, that poster pretty much sums it up. The show alternates between future documentary and present day, focusing on the POTUS’s life. I don’t remember it with great reverence, but it has a lot of familiar faces: Sad Young Logan Lerman*, Bradley Cooper, and of course, the mind-trip that is Roger Sterling being Megan Draper’s dad.

*Because of course he is; it’s like I’m contractually obligated to bring him up in every post.

Title: Tru Calling 
Released: 2003
Length of Commitment: 2 seasons, 26 episodes
Platform: DVD

This was a last-minute addition, since I totally just remembered this show five entries ago. Tru has a terrible name and works in a morgue; this show focuses on the latter and ignores the former. But the corpses have now started asking Tru for help, and she relives their last day in order to prevent their death.

Eliza Dushku stars as Tru, in the first of many attempts to recapture the perfect collision of actor and character that was Faith. Other notables in the cast are Brandon Walsh Jason Priestley, A.J. Cook, MATT BOMER, Eric Christian Olsen, and Lizzy Caplan. Though I doubt anyone predicted that this show’s most famous alum would be Zach Galifianakis.

Title: Popular 
Released: 1999
Length of Commitment: 2 seasons, 43 episodes
Platform: None?

Brooke and Sam are on opposite ends of the popularity spectrum. So of course, their parents get married and now they’re stuck with each other. But as with most Ryan Murphy things, this show burned bright but burned fast. You’ll probably want to bail before you make it to the end.

Title: Roswell 
Released: 1999
Length of Commitment: 3 seasons, 61 episodes
Platforms: DVD; Hulu

You may be shocked to learn that a show called Roswell is about aliens. They have special powers, they’re sexy, and they live among us. Sometimes they go to Nelly Furtado concerts, but mostly they have to contend with the humans and aliens that are after them. And I KNOW, Katherine Heigl. But there are plenty of delightful people (namely, everyone else)! In fact, she’s not even the worst (that would be Tess, played by Emilie “My Bayyy-bee!” de Ravin). Like Wonderfalls, this show is neither over- nor under-, but properly rated.

Title: American Dreams 
Released: 2002
Length of Commitment: 3 seasons, 61 episodes
Platform: DVD

Another last-minute add, thanks to looking up Alix’s Highly Scientific Analysis of Stick It for Missy Peregrym GIFs. There was Bandstand, there was history; there were familiar faces: Brittany Snow, Will Estes, Sarah Ramos, Vanessa Lengies, and Milo Ventimiglia (we just went full circle, y’all!), as well as all the stunt casting for Bandstand performers. This show went retro before Mad Men made it cool. 

That should keep you busy for the whole summer! What obscure TV show would you add to this list? (Because clearly I’ve forgotten a ton.) Share it in the comments! And happy viewing!

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.