Teen drama isn’t every man’s cup of tea but when it’s not your drama, it can be pretty entertaining. Teen dramas of the 90s were all about sex scandals and love triangles but judging from what we are seeing on Netflix these days, the drama has moved on from complex human relationships. We’ve moved on from gossip, rumours, and scandals to vampires, teen wolves, and pretty little liars. As an early Gen Y’er, I remember teen drama in its early days – like when Rachel Bilson played Summer on The O.C., when Leighton Meester played a snobby rich b*tch from Manhattan’s Upper East Side or when Jessica Biel played the reverend’s good girl daughter on 7th Heaven, just before she and her booty made the A-list and married Justin Timberlake.
Whether or not you’ve indulged in single episodes or full seasons of any teen dramas, you may know that some of the hottest actresses got their big break from these TV shows. Not many have made the move so gracefully to the big screen as those mentioned above, but when you’ve been watching someone like Blake Lively through six seasons of Gossip Girl, you tend to cut them a little bit of slack. From Jessica Biel, Blake Lively and Leighton Meester to Sophia Bush and Nina Dobrev, we’ve rounded up the hottest list of actresses that came from teen drama. You might want to lock in a Netflix chill session to catch up on all the teen drama you’ve missed out on.
15. Nina Dobrev- The Vampire Diaries
Twilight marked new benchmarks when Edward Cullen won over women all over the world with his immortal super powers and his old school chivalry. It’s natural that TV would follow suit with The Vampire Diaries. But this isn’t just a vampire/mortal romance. It’s a vampire/mortal love triangle. The whole thing calls for lots of drama, especially when Nina Dobrev plays two characters – Elena the mortal and Katherine, the vampire who’s up to no good. No one can deny her good looks but what we love about her is her fun loving spirit in real life. When she hit 10 million followers on Instagram, she took to Instagram and thanked her fans by taking 10 millions shots. We may have seen her in 90210 (The Next Generation) and cameos here and there but her performance in The Vampire Diaries wins a standing ovation.
14. Lea Michele- Glee
Lea Michele may play the good girl in Glee but offscreen, she shows the world that she’s not just a good girl. She’s 30 years old but plays the role of a 20-something music student climbing her way to broadway fame. Various men’s magazines have shown more of Lea Michele than as just a singing siren on the hit TV show; when she’s not busting out in song, she is showing the world more skin than vocal cords. Like that time she wore nothing but knee high socks, a baseball shirt and white panties…while sucking on a red lollipop in GQ Magazine. She dated Glee co-star Cory Monteith for a few years and stayed out of the limelight after he died from a drug overdose. Since then she’s been rumoured to have dated several other men but there’s no ring on her finger.
13. Shay Mitchell- Pretty Little Liars
Pretty Little Liars may have come to an end but this has been the most attractive cast that’s existed since 90210. Shay Mitchell plays Emily Fields, a high school girl involved in an alleged murder. Who knew pretty little liars can be so cunning? Shay Mitchell plays a seemingly sweet and innocent high school girl experimenting with her sexuality. But in real life, she has a lot more going on. She has a YouTube following, her own website and with her popularity, we bet she’ll have her own fragrance line launched in a matter of months. When Pretty Little Liars finished up, she broadcasted a very raw and emotional farewell to the fans and cast. She’s so refreshingly honest, she is like the all-American girl that few can hate.
12. Sophia Bush- One Tree Hill
She played Brooke Davis in One Tree Hill. In the first season, we saw the brunette as a promiscuous cheerleader but in the eight seasons that followed, she matured into a fashion designer who then became an aunt and mother. She married her co-star, Chad Michael Murray, but their marriage was short lived. Since then Sophia has had several relationships but it seems none of them have made it to the altar. Not all stars age gracefully in Hollywood but Sophia is the exception. You don’t see her much on the red carpet or the small screen very often but when you do, you’ll see that she looks much younger than 34 – and no she doesn’t look like the product of botox or plastic surgery.
11. Rachel Bilson- The O.C
We first saw Rachel Bilson on our TV screens when she played Summer on The O.C, a drama about a young man who finds himself in a very affluent part of Orange County, California. Summer plays the popular girl in high school – pretty, stuck up and confused. She was only intended to appear in several episodes but then became so popular she remained on the cast for seasons to come. Her debut in the teenage drama won her several awards in men’s mags and TV awards (she was once named ‘Choice Hottie Female’). Since the drama, we’ve seen Rachel in a few movies i.e. New York, I Love You, but nothing too memorable. Perhaps the small screen is where she’s suited best. In 2011, Rachel got a lead role in Hart of Dixie but that also got cancelled after four seasons.
10. Jessica Biel- 7th Heaven
When you see Jessica Biel and her biggest “ass-et” now, you’d almost forget that the mum and wife to Justin Timberlake got her celebrity status from 7th Heaven, a drama about a reverend, his wife, and the challenges they face raising five kids in a small town. Jessica plays Mary, a tomboy basketball champ who has a good girl image (until she goes rogue in the later seasons). But Jessica’s talent isn’t limited to the small screen, she was quite convincing as a terrified camper in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. She’s gone on to a few more acting gigs but like Ryan Gosling from Breaker High, we will always remember Jessica Biel as Mary Camden from 7th Heaven. But to be honest, we’re not thinking about Jessica Biel from 7th Heaven. These days we’re all looking to Jess and JT for latest celebrity gossip to see if they’re seemingly rocky relationship is on or off.
9. Blake Lively- Gossip Girl
Good looks, access to all the latest fashion trends money can buy, and a fit body with just the right amount of curves…when you have a character like that, you have a heroine that young women aspire to and men want to date. Blake Lively plays a teenager at Constance, a private school in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Though she is far beyond her teenage years playing Serena in Gossip Girl, she pulls it off with her youthful looks and the immature character she portrays. Like seemingly all characters in a teenage drama, Serena is destructive, attention seeking, and confused about where she wants to go in life. And so she finds ways to entertain herself with scheming, society events and dating- all the while driving her mom crazy with her high school antics. In six seasons, you see Blake in everything from ball gowns to short and inappropriate high school uniforms and bikinis.
8. Leighton Meester- Gossip Girl
You can’t talk about Blake Lively without mentioning her on-screen BFF Leighton Meester, who plays bitchy Blair in Gossip Girl. Where her on-screen bestie Serena flaunts her sexuality, Blair is much more demure. In fact, you don’t really see her naughty side until she’s had it with her boyfriend Nate and takes her frustrations out by stepping onto the stage of a burlesque club where she strips and seduces Nate’s best friend Chuck. Scandalous I know, but we are talking about teen drama here, aren’t we? As for onscreen wardrobes, Blair has the best lingerie collection. When you’re part of Manhattan’s elite, you can afford it. Like all teen dramas, the whole cast sleeps with one another at various points (on-screen) in the series – they’re teenagers with raging hormones; what else would you expect?
7. Kristin Cavallari- The Hills
The Hills technically falls under the reality TV category but since they’re so scripted anyway we’ll put Kristin on this list. She plays herself and is brutally honest, flirty, and no B.S. She may have made a few controversial moves dating other people’s exes and crushes but her chill, easygoing nature brings all the boys to the yard. Even after having had babies, Kristin has managed to maintain the slim frame that caught every boy’s attention in the TV series. She is the epitome of the Cali girl – tanned, blonde, thin, and toned. We don’t see much of her onscreen anymore but if you follow her on Instagram, you’ll know she’s been busying writing books and designing jewellery. Her 15 minutes of fame on TV may be up but with 2.4 million followers on Instagram, her influence is very much here to stay. Not bad considering her fame came from a reality show.
6. Kristin Kreuk- Smallville
Put the love of comics and a hot girl next door type and you’ve got the ideal teen drama few men can resist. Kristin Kreuk played Superman’s love interest in Smallville, a drama which covers the life of Superman before he was Superman. Kristin plays Lana Lang, the object of Tom Welling’s (Superman) love interest. After Smallville ended, she played Catherine Chandler in another TV series (Beauty and the Beast) but since then we haven’t seen much of Kristin Kreuk. She stays out of the limelight in her Vancouver, Canada home, where she is from.
5. Katie Holmes- Dawson’s Creek
Her marriage to Tom Cruise may have made everyone forget her role as Joey Potter from Dawson’s Creek but that’s where her career took off. We first saw her as Joey, a girl from a small town pining over her best friend, the boy from across the creek. The awkward teenager with a love of Dawson grew into her own when the series ended and she married Tom Cruise and gave birth to Suri Cruise, the baby/toddler that set fashion trends for all children worldwide. These days, most of the attention goes to her ex-husband’s Scientology practices.
4. Lucy Hale- Pretty Little Liars
She has brown hair, and is doe-eyed, with that girl-next-door kind of look, but don’t be fooled by her looks. This pretty little liar was a suspect in the murder of one of her good friends ‘A’. If that’s not enough to convince you, she was also wrapped up in a very steamy affair with her teacher – taboo but it happened, at least on screen anyway. In her defense, she didn’t know he was her English teacher when she first made out with him in a pub bathroom. Now that Pretty Little Liars has wrapped up, we’re not sure where we’ll be seeing Lucy again but I’m sure it won’t be long.
3. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen- Beverly Hills 90210
You can’t have a list like this without paying tribute to the TV show that started the teen drama genre. And we’re not talking the remake of the show, we’re looking at the original 90210 here. While everyone was choosing sides between Brenda and Kelly, we were crushing on Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, who played Valerie Malone. The same Tiffani who won over the hearts of so many teenage guys when she played the head cheerleader in Saved by the Bell. If you missed out on this generation of TV, it’s time to play catch up on Netflix.
2. Dianna Agron- Glee
It may be a comedy/drama but some of the issues that this TV series covers are anything but funny. From bullying to sexuality, the show covers high school life through the eyes of a group of singing misfits. Sounds unlikely that a head cheerleader like Quinn Fabray (played by Dianna Agron) would fit in- except the cheerleader just so happens to be knocked up. Since her character left the show she’s made the odd appearance here and there. The last time we remembered seeing her was in Sam Smith’s video for “I’m not the only one” where she convincingly plays the housewife who gets blindly drunk and burns everything, only to have it all cleaned up by the time her husband gets home. A little crazy but she definitely plays crazy well.
1. Jennifer Love Hewitt- Party of Five
It’s J-lo but probably not the one you’re thinking of. We’re talking about the sweetheart from the ’90s hit series Party of Five. If there is a ‘Where are they now?’ article somewhere, I would love to see it. Party of Five may have been a bit of a snoozefest type of drama but without it, we never would have discovered Jennifer Love Hewitt, the tiny but curvy American brunette actress. We loved her as the object of affection in Can’t Hardly Wait and thought she was surprisingly hilarious when she played a gold digger in Heart Breakers. There isn’t anything we don’t love about Jennifer Love (pun intended).