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September 3, 2014

Best School Shows of All Time

by AOL TV Staff, posted Aug 26th 2008 4:15PM
Beverly Hills, 90210 ... 21 Jump Street ... The Facts of Life ... see where they rank on our list.

The bad news? Summer's almost over and it's nearly time for school again.

The good news? We've got just the thing to ease you into back-to-school mode: Our countdown of TV's 21 best school shows ever.

So sharpen your No. 2 pencil and dive in to see which series just make the grade and which ones are at the top of the class.


Series That Deserve an A+

The bad news? Summer's almost over and it's nearly time for school again. The good news? We've got just the thing to ease you into back-to-school mode: Our countdown of TV's 21 best school shows ever. So sharpen your No. 2 pencil and dive in to see which series just make the grade and which ones are at the top of the class.

Series That Deserve an A+

20. <a href='http://www.aoltv.com/show/gossip-girl/1341968/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'Gossip Girl'</font></a>

Drugs in Central Park, champagne-soaked trysts atop a hotel bar, a grilled cheese sandwich sprinkled with truffle oil ... and that's just in the first episode. 'GG' takes the traditional school show formula -- following the trials and tribulations of a group of adolescents -- and infuses it with a fabulous dose of glamor and scandal. You know you love it.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

19. <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/show/saved-by-the-bell/SH0186570000/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'Saved By The Bell'</font></a>

'Bell' remains one of the most quintessential shows about high school for those born after the disco era. Complete with melodrama like Jessie's (<A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/elizabeth-berkley/5694/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Elizabeth Berkley</font></a>) addiction to caffeine pills, it served as the clean alternative to edgier teen dramas. And it launched current TV stars like <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/feature/dancing-with-the-stars' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'Dancing'</font></a> cutie <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/mario-lopez/126132/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Mario Lopez</font></a>, <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/show/beverly-hills-90210/SH0168250000/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'90210'</font></a> hottie <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/tiffani-amber-thiessen/70509/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Tiffani Thiessen</font></a> and <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/show/celebrity-fit-club/SH7164380000/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'Celebrity Fit Club'</font></a> kook <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/dustin-diamond/122131/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Dustin Diamond</font></a>.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

18. <a href='http://www.aoltv.com/show/boston-public/59870/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'Boston Public'</font></a>

Before <a href='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/chi-mcbride/215799' target='_blank'>Chi McBride</a> became PI (and knitting enthusiast) Emerson Cod on 'Pushing Daisies,' he was Steven Harper, the no-nonsense principal of Boston's Winslow High School. During the course of its four-year run, 'Public' confronted serious issues like school violence, racism, even a student council sex scandal -- and Principal Harper was always there to pick up the pieces.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

17. <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/show/dobie-gillis/SH0012980000/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis'</font></a>

Long before <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/show/doogie-howser-md/508403/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Doogie Howser</font></a> sat typing into his diary, Dobie Gillis sat on a park bench talking to the audience about his dilemmas. One of the first series to focus on teen life in high school, it helped make stars of <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/bob-denver/18667/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Bob Denver</font></a> (<A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/show/gilligans-island/SH0018430000/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'Gilligan's Island'</font></a>) and <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/richard-gere/26545/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Richard Gere</font></a>.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

16. <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/show/everybody-hates-chris/SH7542250000/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'Everybody Hates Chris'</font></a>

Based on <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/chris-rock/60918/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Chris Rock's</font></a> experience growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, 'Everybody Hates Chris' presents a perspective of youth not often represented on TV. Chris is constantly bullied by racist jerk Joey and equally bigoted teacher Ms. Morello, but he manages to find solace in his only friend, Greg.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

15. Room 222

This early '70s series set in an American History class tackled current events like the Vietnam War, anti-gay harassment and Watergate. But it really made the grade with its cast featuring the early acting roles of <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/richard-dreyfuss/88268/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Richard Dreyfuss</font></a>, <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/teri-garr/26007/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Teri Garr</font></a>, <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/mark-hamill/29931/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Mark Hamill</font></a>, <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/kurt-russell/62232/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Kurt Russell</font></a>, <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/cindy-williams/116843/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Cindy Williams</font></a> and <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/chuck-norris/104654/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>Chuck Norris</font></a>.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

14. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/daria/SH2113470000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Daria'</font></a>

As a cynical, sarcastic, monotone-voiced teen, Daria got her start on MTV's <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/beavis-and-butt-head/SH0625280000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Beavis and Butt-head'</font></a> before scoring her own series where we met her popular younger sister Quinn. The show was a witty parody of the teenage experience and portrayed the perspective of kids who were &#39;so over&#39; high school.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

13. <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/show/the-facts-of-life/188629/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'The Facts of Life'</font></a>

Jo, Blair, Natalie and Tootie lived and learned together at the all-girls Eastland School, but they never seemed to go to class. Instead, they hung around the house they shared with mentor-slash-school-dietitian Mrs. Garrett and experienced one milestone after another. Fun fact: before 'Facts' was retooled for season 2, its cast included a pre-<A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/john-hughes/95115' target='_blank'>John Hughes</a> <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/molly-ringwald/60327' target='_blank'>Molly Ringwald</a>.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

12. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/felicity/SH1845610000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Felicity'</font></a>

While choosing a university based on a hot guy's comment in your yearbook isn't exactly recommended, it turned out to be the best decision Felicity Porter ever made. She learned to stand up for what she wanted by changing her major and finding a way to pay for school on her own. So what if she chopped off her hair on a whim? Everyone makes mistakes.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

11. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/21-jump-street/SH0000250000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'21 Jump Street'</font></a>

Young girls today swoon for <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/johnny-depp/18682/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>Johnny Depp</font></a> in all his <A HREF=&#39;http://movies.aol.com/movie/pirates-of-the-caribbean-at-worlds-end/25521/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Pirates'</font></a> regalia, but he was at his finest as a hot cop who went undercover in high schools to catch teenagers breaking the law. The show tackled topics like drugs, hate crimes, and AIDS, while giving teen girls everywhere their first taste of lust over the likes of Depp and his sexy co-star <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/richard-grieco/28759/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>Richard Grieco</font></a>.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

10. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/veronica-mars/SH6788440000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Veronica Mars'</font></a>

'Veronica Mars' perfectly captured the interdependent cliques -- rich kids, bikers, jocks, geeks, cheerleaders -- that define high school (and later, college), with the title character eluding any classification but super-sleuth. She solved cases, made good grades and did it all with snarky wit.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

9. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/degrassi-junior-high/SH0012120000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Degrassi Junior High'</font></a>

Both the classic and <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/degrassi-the-next-generation/SH4613250000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Next Generation'</font></a> versions of this landmark Canadian series have made an impression on teens by focusing on tough topics like teenage pregnancy, suicide, infidelity, cancer and even school shootings. Plus, the cast is filled with actual teens who are just trying to survive their own real-life awkward stages.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

8. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/fame-1982/SH0015430000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Fame'</font></a>

Based on a movie of the same name, 'Fame' focused on talented, troubled teens at a New York City performing arts school. There were plenty of musical numbers and &#39;very special episodes,&#39; but the show was genuinely heartfelt and inspiring. Spontaneously breaking into song might not be as cool these days, but back then it allowed the show to heighten teen drama to a new level.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

7. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/the-wonder-years/SH0190910000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'The Wonder Years'</font></a>

Following 'Super Bowl XXII' in 1988, millions were introduced to teen Kevin Arnold. The following six seasons dealt with the sociopolitical issues of the late '60s through the experiences of a typical adolescent boy, as narrated by his older, wiser self. The result was a timeless story of American culture and youth.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

6. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/welcome-back-kotter/SH0047420000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Welcome Back, Kotter'</font></a>

Mr. Kotter may have been the coolest teacher ever. The smart-aleck alum returned to his high school to educate the unruly remedial students known as Sweathogs. He even coped with Vinnie Barbarino (<A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/celebrity/john-travolta/71670/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>John Travolta</font></a>), who loved to spout such colloquialisms as &#39;Up your nose with a rubber hose.&#39;

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

5. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/friday-night-lights/SH8483580000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Friday Night Lights'</font></a>

In most high schools, football players are superstars. In Dillon, Texas, football players are gods -- at least, when they're winning. The show truly scores with its heartfelt depictions of the obstacles the kids tackle off the field, from English homework to girlfriend troubles to crippling injuries.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

4. <A HREF='http://www.aoltv.com/show/beverly-hills-90210/SH0168250000/main' target='_blank'><FONT COLOR='#2864B4'>'Beverly Hills, 90210'</font></a>

West Beverly High had it all: Teen suicide, drug abuse, pregnancy scares, learning disabilities, dating dilemmas and its own radio station. Minnesota twin transplants Brandon and Brenda Walsh warily entered this world of plastic surgery, fast cars and beautiful people and made teens everywhere fall in love with this sexy zip code.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

3. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/buffy-the-vampire-slayer/SH2131100000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'</font></a>

It's hard fitting in homework when you spend your nights trying to save the world from evil. At least Buffy Summers had her brainy friend Willow and her book-smart watcher/school librarian Giles to help her along the way. Not your normal school series, but it had the deadliest and sweetest senior prom ever.

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

2. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/my-so-called-life/SH1138850000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'My So Called Life'</font></a>

Angela Chase was a straight-laced girl who fell for the sexiest troublemaker in school, skipped classes to make out, and discovered herself by ditching her long-time friends, dying her hair bright red and making new bonds with the exciting Rickey and Rayanne. Isn't that what high school is supposed to be about?

Series That Deserve an A&#043;

1. <A HREF=&#39;http://www.aoltv.com/show/freaks-and-geeks/SH3170050000/main&#39; target=&#39;_blank&#39;><FONT COLOR=&#39;#2864B4&#39;>'Freaks and Geeks'</font></a>

This short-lived dramedy set in the '80s followed the lives and friends of Lindsay and Sam Weir, the respective &#39;freak&#39; and &#39;geek&#39; students of McKinley High. Overprotective parents, a hipster guidance counselor, new bonds and old friends helped make this a sometimes painfully honest tale of adolescent uncertainty.

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