Discover more from rmrk*st | Remarkist Mag
Back to School TV: 12 Shows to Match That September Vibe
TV shows with a classroom twist to add to your queue!
The fall is a time for lots of things: changing leaves 🍂, PSL’s, apple picking 🍎, etc. Also on the list: back to school! 🏫 Whether you’re headed back to school yourself, have kids who have resumed their normal August/September-May/June routine, or simply love that new-school-supplies-smell ✏️ in the air every time you hit your local store, September is when we collectively reset and enter a new grade, so to speak. Fall has always been a great time to start a new TV show, since the networks usually premiere their new and returning shows in September. 📺 But since things this year are a little different, we put together a list of shows you can watch that take place at school or heavily feature a school backdrop to match the vibe!
1. Abbott Elementary
Abbott Elementary is a critically acclaimed fan favorite show about an inner city elementary school and its teaching staff. 👩🏫 Filmed in a mockumentary style, creator and star Quinta Brunson is a new teacher trying to fit in with her colleagues–and her overt optimism doesn’t always mesh, to comedic effect. Full of equal amounts of laughs and heart, it’s no mystery why this show has earned multiple Emmy and other critical awards. 🏆
2. Friday Night Lights
One of the best shows about football 🏈 that isn’t really just about football, Friday Night Lights has been a critical favorite since it premiered in 2006. A TV show based on a movie 🎥 of the same name (which was based on a book 📘 of the same name by H.G. Bissinger,) it’s about a high school football team as they embark on a new season with a new coach. On the first Friday night, their star quarterback suffers a career-ending injury and the rest of the series is about what happens next. The show delves into broader social issues affecting the fictional small town of Dillon, TX: generational values, sense of family, racism and sexism, how school funding figures into the community, teen pregnancy, political and socio economic differences.
A comedy about community college, Community follows a small group of mismatched classmates–an eclectic study group-who become unlikely friends. Comedian Joel McHale plays a lawyer who is disbarred and suspended from his job after it’s discovered that he never graduated from college 🎓 with his Bachelor’s Degree, so he heads back to school. The cast is star-studded: McHale along with Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong and Chevy Chase ensure that every episode is full of sarcastic, witty humor. Writer and creator Dan Harmon took inspiration from his own life when he wrote the show: he enrolled in a community college to take Spanish with his girlfriend, and ended up joining a study group 📚 with people that were very different from him but ended up being his friends.
4. Never Have I Ever
In this teen comedy/drama from creator Mindy Kaling, an Indian-American teen, Devi Vishwakumar, living in the San Fernando Valley of CA, heads back to school 🏫 following the summer after a rough year. Her father suddenly died and she is in the midst of coping with her loss 😢–including changes in her family dynamics and home life. But instead of dwelling, Devi has a new mission: to become popular, and get a boyfriend. Her best friends are on board, but don’t make things particularly easy for her. Together, these friends navigate school, family, and the reinvention phases one goes through during high school.
5. Freaks & Geeks
One of the most critically acclaimed, cult favorite TV shows of all time is Freaks & Geeks. Created by Paul Feig and executive-produced by Judd Apatow, this short lived series only saw one season on the air, but is consistently talked about and rewatched by fans. The cast includes Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco, Busy Philipps, Samm Levine, and Martin Starr–all who went on to appear in more Judd Apatow-produced films or have giant careers. It’s 1980, and Lindsay Weir and her younger brother Sam both attend William McKinley High School 🏫 in a Michigan suburb. Lindsay finds herself hanging out with a group of teens who the show refers to as the “freaks:” they aren’t jocks or cheerleaders but might be found under the bleachers smoking 🚬 or having a beer.🍺 Sam and his friends are the “geeks:” 🤓 they’re good students, mathletes, and generally afraid of getting in trouble. Through Lindsay and Sam, viewers navigate both ends of the social spectrum–as well as the importance of family and friendship.
In a series based on The Addams Family, Wednesday is a brand new story 🖤 about Wednesday Addams, played by Jenna Ortega, who is thrown out of her high school for releasing piranhas into the pool to seek revenge on a classmate. She enrolls in the Nevermore Academy, a boarding school for monstrous outcasts–the alma mater of her parents Morticia and Gomez (and the place where they met and fell in love 💘). It’s here where Wednesday discovers an inherited gift of psychic abilities, and when a campus murder 🩸 plagues the student body, she sets out to find out what happened. Nevermore is delightfully spooky; its students and teachers are incredibly…kooky. But what high school isn’t?!
A brilliant adaptation of a graphic novel 📕 by Alice Oseman, Heartstopper is a British coming-of-age romantic comedy/drama created and written by the same author. Charlie and Nick find themselves in the same class at their private high school, and sparks fly ✨ almost immediately. Charlie is an openly gay 🏳️🌈 teen, while Nick is still struggling with his sexuality, so things aren’t exactly easy right away. The show delves into all aspects of high school angst: crushes, friendships, family, and finding one’s identity at a confusing time. Heartstopper earnestly portrays the inner lives of LGBTQ+ teens, and so sweetly depicts first love ❤️ that can make anyone nostalgic for that time in their lives.
This comedy-drama from the late 2000s is a fun portrayal of fraternity/sorority life in college. At a fictional university, Greek life rules the school–and Casey Cartwright is the campus queen 👑: she’s about to become President of her sorority, is dating the President of the best fraternity at the school, and she lives a charmed life. But when her geeky 🤓 brother arrives as a freshman, dead set on joining a fraternity himself, she sees her entire carefully curated image going up in flames. When her brother catches her perfect boyfriend cheating on her with a pledge during rush, everything starts to fall apart. 💔 What’s worse: her ex-boyfriend’s fraternity thinks her brother is awesome, and makes him their star pledge. 🌟 Whether you’re familiar with Greek life within the collegiate system or not, it’s an entertaining show about friendship, family, and love–and what you value the most.
9. One Tree Hill
An early 2000s drama, One Tree Hill is a show about brothers at odds. Lucas and Nathan Scott are half brothers and rivals–a rivalry that only grows stronger when Lucas joins the high school basketball 🏀 team, of which Nathan is already the star. ⭐️ Their father is also in a rivalry of his own with his brother Keith, who has helped raise Lucas. The show often follows the friends and acquaintances of Lucas and Nathan, as their classmates and community are put into the center of their family drama. In addition to good old fashioned teenage angst and deep storylines about identity, the show was known for putting new musical artists 🎶 on screen consistently. Endlessly rewatchable, fans of the show consistently celebrate it.
10. Gossip Girl
Based on a book series 📚 of the same name, Gossip Girl follows the lives of wealthy teens on the Upper East Side of New York City. 🗽 “Gossip Girl” is voiced by Kristen Bell: it is the observant commentary of an omniscient member of this privileged community, one who is always watching to publish the sordid details of their lives for everyone to gawk over. 👀 The show was known for its stars–Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, Ed Westwick, among others–as well as the fashion-forward vibe. Even these kids’ private school uniforms were chic. And in a world where social media was just starting to take over our lives when the show premiered in 2007, the idea of someone watching your every move and ready to broadcast your whereabouts to everyone you know was daunting. Imagine if Gossip Girl had an Instagram account?! 📱
11. Derry Girls
Derry Girls is a British sitcom that takes place in Derry, Northern Ireland 🇮🇪 in the 1990s, during the last years of The Troubles. A heavy setting is a brilliant backdrop for a comedy about Catholic high school ✝️ friends who get themselves into all sorts of hijinks, often which coincide with the themes of political unrest and cultural divides of the times. Erin, her cousin Orla, and their friends Michelle and Clare are inseparable, and when Michelle’s English cousin James comes to live in Derry and go to school with them, he becomes the butt of every joke. The series balances historical events with cutting humor, and often uses archival footage of the events happening at the time, providing levity to otherwise hilarious dialogue. While the world around them is uncertain and scary, these teens’ day-to-day concerns are typical: they long for dates 👫, concert tickets 🎫, good grades 🎓, and parental approval 👍, among other things.
12. Boy Meets World
A classic sitcom from the 1990s, Boy Meets World 🌎 is still a fan favorite three decades later (and the subject of a popular podcast series 🎙 hosted by three of its stars). While the series is largely a show about Cory Matthews and his friend Shawn, brother Eric, and longtime girlfriend Topanga, the episodes mostly take place at school: first elementary, then high school and college. And the gang’s teacher, 👨🏫 Mr. Feeny (played by seasoned actor William Daniels), is prominently featured as their guide and mentor through seven seasons. Nothing says “back to school” like watching Cory give Mr. Feeny a hard time!
Come join us on our discord where you can find fans just like you who love all kinds of content from all nations! You can schedule chat sessions or watch parties around your favorite TV shows & movies in our app, and follow us on Instagram and Tumblr for more fannish content!
Subscribe for more watchlists delivered straight to your inbox!