As the summer begins to wind down through August, you'll find yourself preparing for the inevitable: sending your kids back to school. That might inspire you to start reminiscing about your own school days and the TV series that got you through them. The return to school feels different from a parent's perspective, so if the transition is particularly tough this year, why not ease into it by rewatching the best shows every millennial watched after school? They can remind you of all the highs and lows of your own school days, which can be helpful when it comes to seeing things from a kid's perspective again.
It can also be nice to share an old favorite with your little ones. Many of these shows might have shaped your experiences as a kid: perhaps My So-Called Life taught you what to expect from high school before you got there, or The Magic School Bus made sure you never forgot how animals survive in the desert. The shows you watch as a kid stay with you for a long time and now you can pass them on to your own kids, turning a childhood classic into a brand new tradition.
Without getting too misty-eyed with nostalgia, here are the 11 best shows about school from your childhood, ranked from good to better.
Doug was a classic cartoon of the 90s that dealt with the coming of age of its titular protagonist. When he wasn't drawing Quailman comics in class, Doug was dealing with bullies and dreaming about Patty Mayonnaise. And like any show about growing up, the situations at school were often driving the action.
There was no end to the school-centric shenanigans of Even Stevens, but it gets bonus points for its school-set musical episode. If you weren't humming "Sixth Period" back when you were in sixth period, then I just don't know what to say.
What was happening during recess was always just as important as what was going down in the classroom, which this cartoon knew very well. It explored every part of the school-going experience.
Look, I'm going to let this list finish, but Hey Arnold! is the greatest cartoon of all time. It wasn't always school-focused (though plenty of plots took place within the walls of P.S. 118) but it handled growing up with a sensitivity and introspection that's hard to match. Also, remember the school play? What a great episode.
Lizzie McGuire balanced its relatable school stories with a charming touch of the bizarre thanks to Lizzie's cartoonish inner monologue. The wisdom imparted by this show was vast and varied: you may have connected to Lizzie's many embarrassments but learned how to move past them. Or you just discovered twenty new ways to crimp your hair.
Deadpan teenager Daria was definitive for teen girls of the 90s who felt like they were on the fringes in school, or maybe didn't fit in with everyone else. Whether it was reveling in being a misfit or finding unexpected depths in seemingly-shallow classmates, the show was accessing something very authentic.
Freaks and Geeks
Freaks and Geeks felt like a welcome contrast when compared to other teen dramas of the time like Dawson's Creek. It seemed realer while still maintaining a sense of humor and, despite being short-lived, it endeared itself to audiences for decades after.
My So-Called Life
My So-Called Life was really one of the first shows of its kind: it explored one girl growing up in a way that felt realistic and relevant. Though it may be almost 25 years old now, it still holds up.
Boy Meets World
Seeing the leads of Boy Meets World go from junior high to college and beyond added a particular poignancy to what they were going through. It really felt like you were part of the gang's journey, so even when things got a little surreal they still managed to hit you in an emotional place.
The Magic School Bus
You can't beat that educational content! Ms. Frizzle taught a generation of kids with her zany, unconventional methods, making learning both imaginative and fun. Her countless fashion lessons were just icing on the cake.
It doesn't matter which iteration of Degrassi you might have watched (Degrassi Junior High, The Next Generation, or even Next Class), this Canadian teen drama has always been there for you. While it has a reputation for corniness because of its issue-of-the-week storytelling, it has actually been incredibly groundbreaking in the subjects it has handled throughout its long run.
These are only some of the great shows out there about growing up, but they're some of the best.