Photo Credit: Fox
It's the most wonderful time of the year… for parents! Now that it's September, it's time for the kids to go back to school. If they're not feeling the excitement, here are five great TV programs, past and present, to take the sting out of their impending studies, homework and reports.
Beverly Hills, 90210
If you want a sample of high school teen life in the '90s -- sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll -- this is the perfect show to watch. In the 10 years that Beverly Hills, 90210 was on air, it made famous a zip code, an REM song and several young actors including Aaron Spelling's daughter Tori. The show's first season revolved around teen twins Brandon (Jason Priestley) and Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty), who are transplanted to glitzy Beverly Hills from Minneapolis and have to adjust to a new high school full of wealthy, well-connected Hollywood kids. The naïve Midwestern brother and sister both become involved in a fast crowd of rebellious, popular kids. Episodes ranged in subject from date rape, alcoholism, suicide, bulimia, domestic violence, racism, drug abuse, teen heartbreak and the growing pains that accompany the pressures of surviving high school and life. I still can't hear REM's "Losing My Religion" without picturing a lovelorn Brenda in her bedroom crying over her breakup with first love Dylan McKay (Luke Perry).
The musical soap opera, which started on Fox in May of 2009, begins the third season this fall, to the anticipation of many self-proclaimed Gleeks. A national phenomenon, Glee tells the story of the unlikely union of popular jocks and cheerleaders with their polar opposites, the unpopular nerds and outcasts in a high school glee club. Under the direction of school alumni and former glee club singer, teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), they soon realize that they have more in common than not and end up making beautiful music together. But all is not harmonious and they are constantly combating the school's competitive cheerleading coach, sinister Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) or protecting their material from rival school's glee clubs. The whole cast is spectacular, but Lea Michele stands out as the vocally gifted Rachel Berry, who effortlessly sings everything from duets to broadway standards to Barbra Streisand and Lady Gaga hits. After a year of pregnancies, one fake and one real, biological parents revealed and unrequited love finally requited, viewers can't wait to see what this season holds for the amazing talent of McKinley High's glee club.
The Suite Life on Deck
In the spinoff of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, the twins, played by Dylan and Cole Sprouse, cruise the seven seas while residing and taking classes aboard the S.S. Tipton. The Suite Life wouldn't be sweet without the audience's favorite characters: Chaperone Mr. Moseby -- who keeps the twins afloat -- and resident spoiled heiress London Tipton. As the boys study abroad, they are joined by some new students: Country girl Bailey, wacky Woody, former teen pop star Marcus and Moseby's match, teacher Miss Tutweiler. Although Zack and Cody are older now, they continue their zany antics both off and on-shore, insuring just as much fun as they had before they shaped up and shipped out.
The Facts of Life
You take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and then you have… a classic TV show about girls from an upper-crust boarding school and their housemother. A spinoff of the popular program Diff'rent Strokes, governess Mrs. Garrett, leaves the wealthy Drummond family in the Big Apple to venture north to Upstate N.Y. In the first season, a young Molly Ringwald played one of Garrett's many charges, but only three of the original students returned the following season. Obnoxious rich girl Blair, busy body Tootie and fun-loving Natalie were joined by newcomer, streetwise tough chick Jo in the second season. The education and misadventures of this group of diverse roommates, guided by their stern but loving caregiver, created a sweet and spicy formula that kept the show on air for nine years.
Welcome Back, Kotter
This '70s gem about Gabe Kotter, a former Brooklyn, N.Y. high school hooligan who returns to his alma mater as faculty. The show, of course, introduced the world to John Travolta, who played student and Sweathog Vinnie Barbarino. Kotter, a former Sweathog, is forced to teach the current members of the remedial group he once belonged to. The Sweathogs were the best of friends and regularly battled their curmudgeonly vice principal with support and protection from father figure Kotter. This hit sitcom was funny and heartwarming -- it showed the bond between teacher and student, the old and the new, while making significant social commentary. Welcome Back Kotter is a fun look back at school days.
What's your favorite back-to-school show? Chime in below!