Oh, we LOVE the drama, don’t we? No, not our real-life drama. We want fictional drama, and the more melo that drama the better. For a lot of us, one of our first introductions to the sensational and salacious world of teen dramas was The OC.
Wasn’t that show the best??? We held on for FOUR seasons to see if Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson) and Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) would finally get together, and if Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) would ever make anything of himself. We engaged every week to see how these teen characters would overcome what we thought were super serious conflicts involving relationships, academics, and the cultural reality of living in Orange County, CA. (Okay, maybe not the reality.)
Though The OC is inarguably cheesy and over-the-top, there’s something about it that’s so fun and nostalgic. It takes us all back to a simpler time and the heavy drama makes us feel on a whole other level. So . . . if you’ve been craving a new show to dig into, we’ve got the top 10 shows you need to watch after The OC.
10 Shows Like The OC
Nostalgic TV Shows Like The OC
The OC was created by Josh Schwartz, and so was Gossip Girl! It is such a fun watch because there’s a mystery surrounding these teen girls. There’s an elusive blogger observing every move, but they have no idea which of their friends is the backstabber. It’s sooo fun to make your guesses throughout the show because you seriously can’t figure it out with all the twists and turns. Plus, all the girls are prissy, upper-class divas, so there is TONS of caddy drama—which we aaalll love.
If you want to hear some true super-fans discuss what they love about this award-winning teen mystery/drama series, listen to this episode of Ride. Both Benito and Mary Beth STAN for this series. And . . . psst . . . you can binge the whole series on Max!
One Tree Hill
If you love the brotherhood vibe of The OC, One Tree Hill should def be on your must-watch list. The series follows brothers Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan (James Lafferty) as they navigate life with girls and basketball. Oh, yeah, this show is SO high school. These brothers compete in every aspect of life and start as classic sibling rivals, but slowly grow to appreciate one another.
You can watch One Tree Hill on Hulu, Max, Prime Video, and Apple TV. It’s definitely worth binging, especially with your girlfriends. Wear your skirt over your jeans, pin up your hair with butterfly clips, pour everyone glasses of Malibu, and get your 2000s nostalgia party pumping.
There are so many great themes played out in Dawson’s Creek! The principle is really simple, the show follows a group of misfits in a small town in New England. However, the show is able to juggle all these big conflicts like class diversity, mental health, divorce, death, coming out, young love, and more all in one coming-of-age story. It’s such an addictive show!
The series centers around Dawson Leery, who is an aspiring filmmaker with a tomboy best friend named Joey. They get into lots of trouble with their friends and battle with a budding romance, and both struggles will have you playing episode after episode. Watch it right now on Hulu, Max, Prime Video, or Apple TV.
Gilmore Girls is about a single mother and her smart teenage daughter who have a strong relationship that is #goals. They both have big goals they’re working to achieve and they support each other every step of the way. The show is funny and feel-good with lots of dramatic elements too.
If you want a show you can watch with your mom or older sisters, Gilmore Girls is where it’s at. There’s nothing that says “girl power” like cross-generational women kicking ass and accomplishing their goals) with no help from no man! (Okay, there are a few great guys along the way too!) Anyway, you can binge Gilmore Girls on Netflix, Prime Video, and Apple TV.
Current TV Shows Like The OC
This series is kind of like Goonies if the Goonies were like 100 times more caddy and dramatic. These North Carolina teens are finding buried treasure together in their coastal town. You’ll see sharp contrasts between wealthy and working-class teens striving toward the same mission as they’re chased by the law and their enemies.
It may sound a little more intense than The OC, and it is, but it just adds to the drama. Trust us, you’ll still get all your teen angst . . . but with some higher stakes. It’s the best! This is a Netflix exclusive and ongoing, so you can make this your latest obsession!
What embodies the American teenage cliche better than high school football? For whatever reason, we all LOVE the drama that ensues on and off the field in this classic teen movie trope. This series is actually inspired by the real life of professional football player Spencer Paysinger and it showcases the cultural divide between the poor and wealthy sides of Beverly Hills High School. Check it out on Netflix!
Did you ever read Archie comics? Well, this is nothing like that, but it was inspired by that! Riverdale uses the characters from the classic comics to create an ensemble cast that clash and collide in every episode.
Not only do the characters struggle with romance, school, and family drama like The OC teens, but they also have to solve dark mysteries threatening their town. The mixture of teen mayhem and supernatural chaos is SUCH a blast. Watch Riverdale on Netflix, Prime Video, and Apple TV.
Ginny & Georgia
Here’s another great series to watch after The OC if you want a good laugh! We all need a break from the melodrama (but don’t worry, there is plenty of teen angst in this series too.) Ginny & Georgia focuses on the life of a mother, her teenage daughter, and her young autistic son. The family gets a new start in an upper-class neighborhood after escaping a shady past, but, like always . . . that past catches up with them.
Amanda Hirsch of Not Skinny But Not Fat always has the best taste in shows, so you know if she recommends something, it’s DEFINITELY binge-able. You can hear all about why Ginny & Georgia is one of her current favorite shows HERE!
Reality TV Shows Like The OC
Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County
If you like fictional drama of The OC, we KNOW you love real-life teen drama too. Laguna Beach is a reality TV series from MTV that followed the lives of teenagers at Laguna Beach High School. Ooooh, yes. A real-life group of high schoolers, which means this shit wasn’t clean like 7th Heaven and other pure 00s content. No, these high schoolers swear, fight, and, you know, other stuff.
This series is full of controversy and it fully represents the beloved, yet problematic early 2000s MTV culture. Once you finish Laguna Beach on Paramount Plus, you can watch the spinoff called The Hills—but don’t stop there! (But, we and Amanda Hirsh LOVE The Hills.) Dear Media has a reunion podcast called Back at the Beach that is a MUST LISTEN. It’s seriously sooo good and brings some grown-up perspective to this wild reality series.
There’s a lot of teen drama on fictional TV shows, but teen pregnancy takes the cake for curating the most adolescent mayhem. Teen Mom highlights not only the struggle and beauty of brave teen moms, but also highlights their journey through relationships, school, establishing future goals, and discovering who they are. You’ll find yourself laughing, crying, and cringing with every episode of Teen Mom. You can watch it on Paramount Plus.
Feed your nostalgia and need for teen drama with one of our favorite shows!
If you’re looking for new show recommendations, and you loved The OC, we hope this list helped you find your next fav series that you’ll rewatch again and again. And, if you need something to binge at work too (yeah, probably not a good idea to be watching Riverdale on the job), check out our directory of the world’s best podcasts. (Our Bravo podcast episodes are a favorite of TV lovers.) Seriously, Dear Media has all your content covered.