Freaks, Gleeks, and Dawson’s Creek: How Seven Teen Shows Transformed Television

Running Pr. Jun. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9780762480760. $28. TV
Up until the 1980s, television shows aimed at teenagers often found devoted fanbases but little critical notice. This began to change in the early 1990s. Entertainment journalist Glassman has written a loving and lighthearted look at seven influential series of the era that changed the way teenagers were represented on TV. She vividly explores the painfully honest My So-Called Life, the elevated dialogue of Dawson’s Creek, the ahead-of-its-time vulnerability of Freaks and Geeks, the dramatic comedy of The O.C., the beloved teen/family balance of Friday Night Lights, and the game-changing success of Glee. About these shows, critics noted the realistic characters and the way larger issues were woven into the stories. For teens and viewers in their twenties who adored these fully realized characters, the shows became a vital and unforgettable piece of their lives. The success of the book is Glassman’s decision to focus on the creators and writers, rather than the cast. Even readers unfamiliar with these shows will likely find the book so engaging and well-written that they’ll want to binge-watch many of the series as soon as they put down the book.
VERDICT An enjoyable look at a key era in youth representation on television.
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