Too many teen soap operas aren’t a problem.
We had no idea when Gossip Girl first aired in 2007 how much of a cultural phenomenon it would become because it focused on the lives of students at an elitist Upper East Side high school and the ruthless anonymous blogger who documents their every move. There were six seasons, and it helped launch the careers of Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley and Chace Crawford, while also leaving a legacy that can be seen in several other teen shows, including a sequel series coming to HBO Max in 2018..
Many shows in this list deal with the divide between rich and poor and explore wealth and all that it brings. If you’ve seen Gossip Girl too many times to count but still want to experience the highs and lows of the teen soap, which was a satire as much as it was a glorification of wealth and excess, you should check out the shows in this list. Some of them are nothing more than excellent teen dramas. Whatever the case may be, if you enjoyed Gossip Girl, you’ll enjoy these other shows.
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1. Gossip Girl (2021)
HBO’s reboot of Gossip Girl, which follows a new group of obscenely rich Upper East Side high school students who are thrown for a loop when a mysterious new girl enters the picture to shake things up, should be the first stop for any Gossip Girl fan. The new Gossip Girl is more self-aware and politically aware, and while it may not be as big a hit as the original, fans of the original will find plenty to keep them interested. Don’t worry, Gossip Girl herself, Kristen Bell, will be back as a voiceover. I’m Allison Picurro, the writer. [HBO Max] Watch this.
To begin with, it is clear that Bridgerton drew inspiration from Gossip Girl, with its all-knowing, all-powerful narrator, Lady Whistledown, who is constantly meddling in the romantic affairs of the show’s characters. Julie Andrews provides the voice for Lady Whistledown. Set in Regency-era London, Shonda Rhimes’ Bridgerton is about the family’s activities as their eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) enters her first social season to look for a suitable husband. Bridgerton is produced by Shonda Rhimes.
She ends up in a complicated not-relationship with the notoriously commitment-averse Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), who agrees to pretend to court her in order to assist her in finding a real husband and secure his own bachelorhood. This show has everything you want in a high-drama show: a tangle of interconnected characters, an orchestral rendition of pop songs, and so on. You can see it on Netflix.
Although Elite is a teen-centric drama that has the potential to rival Gossip Girl for soap opera status, the two shows share more than just a name. As in the CW’s Gossip Girl, a private school’s racial divide is also explored in the Spanish series, which centers on a diverse group of students, some of whom are attending the prestigious institution on scholarship. Making good use of flashbacks, the show reveals what happens when one of the students is murdered and another goes missing, making it a compelling addition to the teen drama genre while also adding a mystery twist.
Also, while it’s a mystery at its core, being gay in a conservative household or the dangers that come with living in the age of social media allows for more relatable themes like how far one might go to fit in. You can see it on Netflix.
4. The O.C.
With its sunny skies and posh pool houses in Newport, California, The O.C., created by Gossip Girl creator and executive producer Josh Schwartz, laid the groundwork for Gossip Girl’s success. Ben McKenzie plays Ryan Atwood, a troubled teenager from a broken home who is taken in by Sandy Cohen’s wealthy wife Kirsten (Peter Gallagher) and his public defender Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher) rapid ascent in pop culture history books and introduction to Death Cab for Cutie’s musical style (Kelly Rowan).
As an outsider, Ryan encounters class and materialism, while the rest of the Cohen family shows themselves to be less shallow and self-centered than their obnoxious neighbors. However, it’s also chock-full of tension. With its rapid rise and subsequent rapid fall, the show’s final season leveled off to allow it to end on a high note and remind everyone why it is among the best teen shows ever made. The series also launched Adam Brody, Mischa Barton, and Rachel Bilson’s careers. [HBO Max] Watch this.
5. The Bold Type
Freeform’s millennial dramedy The Bold Type, starring Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee, and Meghann Fahy as three twentysomethings working at a fictional fashion magazine called Scarlet, might be of interest to you if you loved Serena and Blair’s incredible fashion on Gossip Girl. With inspiration from former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles, the show tackles many of the issues that young women face when trying to carve out careers in journalism, social media, or the fashion industry. It also doesn’t shy away from difficult topics or relationship drama. Best of all is Scarlet’s fashion closet, where she keeps all of her amazing outfits and where she and her friends spend a lot of time dealing with the problems life has thrown at them. That, and their strong friendships between them.
6. Blood & Water
A prep school is the setting for this South African teen drama, which follows a group of cunning students much like Gossip Girl does. Although an anonymous person reveals the secrets of wealthy teens, the mystery at the heart of the story is much more complex and drives much of the action forward. A 16-year-old girl named Puleng Khumalo transfers to a prestigious school in search of her long-lost sister, played by Ama Qamata. Despite the fact that Blood & Water is tense and exciting, it never becomes obnoxious. This is thanks to the performances of both Qamata and Khosi Ngema, who plays Puleng’s presumed sister Fikile Bhele.
7. Outer Banks
You might enjoy Netflix’s Outer Banks if you enjoyed Dan’s romance with Serena (or Blair!) on Gossip Girl. The show also features a major plotline involving an underprivileged teenager (Chase Stokes) who develops feelings for a wealthy girl (Madelyn Cline) and the ensuing drama.
However, the show is so much more than just that. While filming took place on the Outer Banks, the Pogues were searching for a long-lost treasure from an ancient shipwreck after a hurricane knocked out the island’s power. While on their journey, they come across increasingly dangerous environments, as well as an expanding number of adversaries, and the teenagers frequently make decisions without fully considering the ramifications of their choices. However, this is also one of the reasons why the Outer Banks is so authentic; teenagers are by nature egocentric and impulsive, and they are propelled by their hormones. Although this isn’t a great show, it’s extremely addicting. You can see it on Netflix.
8. One Tree Hill
Another hit show that paved the way for Gossip Girl was One Tree Hill. As a teen soap opera that ran for nine seasons on the WB and the CW, Gossip Girl starts out with a lot of the same relationship and family drama. Even so, it’s one of a select few series that successfully bridges the gap between adolescence and adulthood due to its longevity and omission of the college years, which tend to drag most high school shows down.
These two half-brothers, Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan (James Lafferty), were born just months apart but come from completely different backgrounds. Paul Johansson, their father, abandoned their mother Moira Kelly, his high school girlfriend, and got another woman (Barbara Alyn Woods) pregnant while in college, so Lucas and Nathan grow up in the same town but have different lifestyles and life experiences. There’s a lot more to the story, but spoilers would give away some of the most exciting parts of the show. It all starts when Lucas joins Nathan’s high school basketball team, where he’s the star player.
9. Pretty Little Liars
Anonymity was key to the series’ success, as Gossip Girl’s identity remained a mystery throughout the run of the show thanks to Kristen Bell’s portrayal of the blogger. Following the disappearance of one of their own, the teens at the center of the ABC Family/Freeform drama Pretty Little Liars face a similar situation: a mystery person known only as A threatens to reveal all of their secrets. Although the show’s ruse was exposed several times, including as to who A really was, the first few seasons are definitely worth checking out, especially if you like actors like Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, and Shay Mitchell. While the show wasn’t always successful at conjuring up believable or thrilling new developments to the central mystery, the first few seasons are definitely worth checking out.