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While I may put on a set of rose colored glasses when it comes to me looking back at my adolescence, dreaming that I could go back in time and do it all over again and enjoy it more than I did the first time around…something tells me that actually doing so would be a total nightmare if I had to spend years starting back at square one! Hahaha!
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It’s true! Our teen years aren’t easy. The clumsiness, the mind games, the mood swings, the rumors and gossip, the awkward boners in the middle of class, the self conscious battle with what other people think of us, the wet dreams, the acne, and those first frightening battles with our own hormones as we fell in love every two weeks with somebody different? Yeah, as dreamy as it may seem from a distance…I doubt I’d want to go through all that again. I barely survived it the first time.
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But…when I was growing up, there were a few TV shows that seemed to really help me to navigate a little bit better as I was going through it. And even after that time in my life was over, those shows still bring back a heavy sense of nostalgia for how High School and Junior High used to be, and I just smile to myself and think, “Oh wow…yeah! I remember that!” It takes you back to a time that things used to seem so simple, and yet…when you’re living through it and you’re in ‘stuck’ that particular moment…it can be the most exciting (or the most devastating) thing in the world to you! I think it’s important to reconnect with that part of ourselves every now and then…even if it feels like ancient history to us now. And for our teen readers who might be sinking in the quagmire of puberty right now…maybe these shows will give you some perspective to help you out. Many of them certainly worked for me.
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SO…here are ‘Comicality’s Top Ten Coming-Of-Age TV Shows’! Enjoy! Teen drama, some good laughs, and cute boys galore! I’m sure they’ll be able to hold your interest for a while! Hehehe!
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There is no doubt, whatsoever, that this show was going to make this list! Probably one of the very best coming-of-age TV series to ever be put on the air. Starring Fred Savage, it tells the story of him and his family during the late 1960’s up through the early 1970’s, and a great deal of it is narrated by Daniel Stern (Robber ‘Marv’ from the “Home Alone” movies) in great detail. I think I was about 11 or 12 when the first season first started, so I was RIGHT at the age that they were trying to target at the time. And Fred Savage was so damn cute! And Whinnie Cooper! And his bully of an older brother, and his nerdy best friend…it was the first show that I ever watched that actually seemed to treat adolescence seriously, and not just in a safe, “Leave It To Beaver”/”Brady Bunch” kind of way! So, you get your dramatic moments, but you also get a lot of comical moments as well. A touch of adorable romance tossed in for good measure, and you’ve got all of the elements of a cultural phenomenon for an entire generation of teens and preteens that will stick with them for a lifetime! I know from experience! Thanks for making things a bit easier for me coing up, Fred Savage! Mwah! Love always!
[ [ Familiar Faces ] ] Come on! It’s Fred Savage and Danica McKellar! Hehehe, do need anybody else?
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I think it only took two or three episodes to confirm the idea that the character of ‘Ricky’ on the show liked boys! Now, understand, “My So-Called Life” wasn’t really all that long ago…but I can remember thinking that it was bold as hell to have an openly gay character on a regular prime-time TV series! That was something else that, at the time, was really unheard of. At least to me it was. This series follows the character of ‘Angela’, her little sister, and her parents…including a mother who means well, but could really be an antagonist to Angela more times than not. The show deals with friendships, betrayal, the insecurities of being a teenage girl in a new school, and, of course…constantly finding yourself in pursuit of your ultimate dream boy…whether he’s good for you or not. A very touching show indeed, and if you’ve never seen it, I suggest you give it a look sometimes! It becomes addictive pretty quickly.
[ [ Familiar Faces ] ] A teenage Claire Danes, as well as a young Jared Leto!
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Even though I’m nowhere near being Canadian, I can remember being really young, and our homeroom teachers used to show us episodes of the original “Degrassi Jr High”. They were sort of these, cheesy mini soap operas that tackled a different issue that adults thought teens needed to learn about. (Nothing like going to “The Beer Store” to steal some booze! Hehehe!) However, when the show was rebooted with an entirely new cast, “Degrassi: The Next Generation” seemed to actually fit into the world that real teens were living in, and the issues involved were treated with much more sincerity that didn’t feel as detached from the kids they were initially trying to talk to. The series has an ensemble cast that deals with a wide variety of issues, from domestic abuse, to homosexuality, to suicide, things like being bi-polar or having Aspergers. And since it was much more modern, it also dealt with situations as serious as online predators, cyber bullying, and even a school shooting. So even though the cast went back to being younger kids, “Degrassi” as a whole made sure to display how much they had grown up as a TV show.
[ [ Familiar Faces ] ] Teen Nina Dobrev from “The Vampire Diaries”, and a VERY young ‘Drake’….waaaay before ‘Hotline Bling’! Hehehe!
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Hehehe, who knew that, after speding all of that time get warm and fuzzy feelings from Fred Savage in “The Wonder Years”, that his real life little brother Ben Savage would be bringing one of my next favorite strolls down memory lane? I think I was halfway through high school when this show began and Ben Savage has this infectious energy that’s just fun to be around while you watch. Fun, but never annoying. Sarcastic, but never mean. It’s all about him and his family, his best friend, Shawn (Sighhh…Rider Strong), and the grand beauty of Will Friedel on top of it! It was a fun ride watching this show, so I recommend checking it out for yourselves some time. They rebooted this series as well not that long ago, called “Girl Meets World”…but it’s on the Disney Channel now. So…meh. I think it was done better the first time around. Not that “BMW” was dark and depressing or anything, but the new Disney Channel version, in my opinion, made it kind of corny. If you’re going to make a coming-of-age TV series…the kids should actually be ‘coming of age’. We all can’t be seven years old forever. Let’s spice it up a bit!
[ [ Familiar Faces ] ] Ben Savage, Rider Strong, and if the Principal sounds familiar? Yes! He was the voice of ‘KITT’, which was David Hasselhoff’s car on the TV series, “Night Rider”!
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This show is just…LOL! After the first three seasons, I can honestly say that this animated series goes to places that you would never EVER expect it to! It’s all in fun, of course…but I doubt you’ll find a more ‘brutally honest’ show about kids going through puberty for the first time than you will with this parody of the whole adolescent process of growing up. Buyer beware…this is NOT for kids! LOL!, well…it IS, but they’re only going to watch it when you’re not home, with the door closed. This is more ‘Family Guy’ or ‘South Park’ than anything you’ll find on a family oriented station. Storylines include issues with penis size, menstruation, masturbation, confused sexuality, dating, and sex! I laughed my ASS off at this show! So, if you’re prepared ahead of time, and promise not to get offended easily…check this one out! LOL! This show is a LOT of fun!
[ [ Familiar Voices ] ] Comedians Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Fred Armisen, and Maya Rudolph, as well as Jordan Peele as the ghost of Duke Ellington! Hehehe, what?
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I thought that “Hank Zipzer” was really sweet as a TV show! Sort of a teenage version of ‘Dennis The Menace’, if you can imagine that. Hank is notorious for getting himself into trouble, often bringing some of his best friends down with him. Loaded with an advanced repertoire of naughty thoughts and random hi-jinx, He’s basically just trying to get himself through school, avoid his nemesis, and try to stay as far away from his teachers and younger sister in the school hallways as humanly possible. But, all jokes and pranks aside, the show has a lot of heart to it too. Hank is suffering from dyslexia, which he doesn’t seem to want anyone to really know about. So many of his shortcuts and schemes are used to hide the fact that he has a slight disability, and the show handles it really well. So this one has a little bit of everything if you’re looking for it. Enjoy!
[ [ Familiar Faces ] ] Heyyyyyy! It’s the Fonz, Henry Winkler!
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Before “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up”, or “Superbad”, producer Judd Apatow made a series of really cool coming-of-age TV series that I really liked, even though they never seemed to last long for some odd reason. Which is weird, because they had a massive fanbase! My favorite of these was always “Freaks And Geeks”, which made me run out and buy the DVD boxset as soon as it finally became available for purchase! I LOVED that show! Hehehe, and it actually kickstarted the careers of a LOT of actors that you see on the big screen today. The show was made in the 90’s but is set in the early to mid 80’s, following the rapidly changing and jaded attitudes of an older sister who’s in her last year of high school, and the wide eyed enthusiasm and awkward introduction to high school for the first time by her younger brother, Sam. Many laughs to be had with this one, dealing with issues like fitting in, being outcast, first love, mistaken love, pornography, bullying, and family love and support. Definitely one to put at the top of your list of things to watch. (Also, keep an eye for a few cameos from a teeny TINY Shia Lebeouf too! Hahaha, how young was he? Geez!)
[ [ Familiar Faces ] ] A TON of them! James Franco, Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel…as well as John Francis Daly, who not only acts but does a lot of screenwriting as well. Including movies like “Spider-Man: Homecoming”…which features Martin Starr as one of Peter’s high school teachers!
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How could I possibly not put “Malcolm In The Middle” on this list! LOL! Yes, young Frankie Muniz and his TV family definitely deserves his spot! It’s the kind of show that makes me want to go up to my mom and just hug her, like, “I am SO sorry for what I must have put you through!” Hehehe, thank goodness that I was an only child! Because this whole series is just full of the kind of things that young boys do! We fight, we climb stuff, we break things, we do random stupid shit that probably could have gotten us killed. And why? Because we’re BOYS! Hehehe, what else was there to do? Awww, poor Lois! Malcom and is family aren’t really well off financially, especially when his parents are raising three young boys all by themselves…but when it turns out that Malcom actually tested off the charts at school, putting him at genius status among his classmates, the family tries to pull together to give him every possible opportunity to make something truly great out of himself. All the while, Malcolm just wants to play, be with his friends, chase girls, and be ‘normal’. One of the most entertaining shows you’re likely to see of this sort. The things these kids do are like…WTF? But, despite being so ashamed of one another every now and then, the love and support is still there. And you can feel it in every episode.
[ [ Familiar Faces ] ] Jane Kaczmarek, and a very silly, ‘Pre-Breaking Bad’, Bryan Cranston!
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Damn you, Australia, and your super cute boys that just smile and surf all day long! Hehehe! Another series that I really did enjoy was Lockie Leonard. A coming-of-age series that offered a bit more detailed and mature content that I had originally expected, but it’s done in this really fun and playful way that approaches certain subjects from the edges. Hehehe, so it’s safe to watch with a young teen if you have one at home. Many of the episodes deal with love and crushes, friendship, school, first kisses, and the usual issues facing boys of that age. And then there are other episodes that deal with growing hair and body issues during puberty, as well as wet dreams. (LOL! The “Water Feature” episode where Lockie has a bit of an early morning ‘accident’ and has to swiftly run around and nearly breaking his neck to sort it out while keeping it a secret is just plain hilarious!) So, yes…if you can find the seasons of Lockie Leonard, it’s another one I think you can both enjoy, and appreciate!
[ [ Familiar Faces ] ] Teen Sean Keenan from “Glitch”!
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And that brings us down to the last, but not least, TV show on my list! That decision goes out to “Pen15”! (Hehehe! Because, even though it says ’15’, it spells ‘penis’! ::Giggles::) No, seriously though, I checked out the first seasn of this series, and I am anxiously waiting to get some time to watch the second season after where the last one left off. This show takes place in the year 2000 (Oh wow…that seems like soooo long ago, now!), and it is based on the life of two thirteen year old girls who are going back to school and looking at the world with optimism and excitement, looking to share a ton of new experiences together as the best friends in the world. The fun part of this show, is that even though the main actresses/comedians are obviously not 13 years old…the rest of the cast and the kids that they’re going to school with actually are! Which, of course, makes me want to warn you…this is not a Disney Channel type of comedy! Hehehe! So there will be some sexual innuendo, some cursing, some alcohol consumption…it’s a parody of teen life, but don’t expect ‘Little House On The Prarie’! Hehehe, this isn’t that type of show! The one thing that I really loved about this show is that, while it started off being almost all comedy in the first half of the series, it does dive into some more serious issues in the second half. Not at the expense of a good time and some major laughs, but it does draw you in far enough to a point that when this show wants to show you some heart…you welcome it with open arms. So I had a lot of fun with this one as well, and I’m sure you would too!

[ [ Familiar Faces ] ] Not quite YET! But I’m willing to bet that super cuties, Lincoln Jolly and Jonah Beres, will be popping up on your radars in the *VERY* near future! 🙂

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So, there we have it! ‘Comicality’s Top Ten Coming-Of-Age TV Shows’! Now, I had to narrow everything down to just ten picks, but I’m sure that there are some honorable mentions that go out to shows like “Skins”, “Doogie Howser, M.D.”, “The Fosters”, “Love, Victor”, “Everything Sucks”, “RJ Berger”, and quite a few others…but, like I said, I had to narrow it down to my all-time favorite ten! So let me know if you agree with my list! And enjoy the shows whenever you get a chance! I believe they are all either streaming online or available somewhere on DVD/Blu-Ray! Have fun! And smile for me, k? You only live once, after all! 🙂

 

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