Once upon a time, we were all proud of the cheesy dramedies that got us through adolescence. Then we grew up, and we traded in Mr. Belding for Mr. Big, All That for SNL, and Full House for, well, House.
Or did we? How many of us are still flipping the channels in the search for the next Blossom Russo or Mike Seaver? How many of us are still vicariously living the lives we didn't have in high school via television? It's OK, people. You can admit it. This is a safe space. And to prove it, here's a list of the five teen cable shows you're probably already watching.
Degrassi: The Next Generation
The Gist: The Canadian version of every teen show ever, this imported half-hour melodrama is currently in its ninth season and showing no signs of disappearing. "The Next Generation" refers to the fact that this is actually a spin-off of the original Degrassi series of the eighties, with the result of that series' notable teen pregnancy appearing as one of the stars.
Why It's OK to Come Clean: Not only is it an international phenomenon, but Degrassi's made headlines before for their willingness to explore issues often kept off the American screen. From abortion to school shooting to drug use to date rape, these guys have left no traumatic stone unturned.
Why It's Not: The acting is oh. So. Awful. However, they do get points for employing a culturally diverse cast who-gasp!-play kids their own ages, awkward stages and all.
Potential Future Star Power: Drake may be the best they ever had, and Shenae Grimes and Nina Dobrev may be sexing up the CW as Brenda 2.0 and the mortal in an incestuous vampire threesome, respectively, but with Jake Epstein coming off a Spring Awakening tour, there may be another success story looming on the horizon.
The Gist: Olympic gymnast hopefuls navigate life and stuff in ABC Family's hour-long lead-in to Greek
Why It's OK to Come Clean: Because if gymnastics weren't so damn fun to watch, we'd all be Winter Olympics fans.
Why It's Not: Because even if all the actresses are actually in their twenties, nothing screams "pedo" like watching a bunch of teenage pretenders scamper around in spandex.
Potential Future Star Factor: This show's already got some familiar faces, including Frasier's Peri Gilpin and Full House's Candace Cameron Bure, but Johnny Pacar, as the principled semi-badass who just wants to do right by his woman, is the smokin' standout of this cast.
The Gist: A girl has a podcast that's way more popular than it should be, a best friend who's obviously "the personality" of the operation, and a best friend who thinks he's in love with her but will probably realize he's gay after watching three episodes of Glee.
Why It's OK to Come Clean: Because like it or not, Miranda Cosgrove is probably going to be a big star, and because the guy who plays her older brother is fun for women and gay men of all ages.
Why It's Not: It's a show about a podcast. I don't even really know what a podcast is.
Potential Future Star Faction: Miranda Cosgrove is pretty much a lock, but the actual acting talent on this show belongs solely to Jennette McCurdy, a little blond ball of serious attitude.
The Gist: Girl gets pregnant and has baby in high school. Signs of a "happily ever after" are not yet imminent.
Why It's OK to Come Clean: Because you can always claim your fandom as a result of a lingering obsession with Molly Ringwald.
Why It's Not: Because this is the kind of storyline that's been done to death and you should be sick of it already.
Potential Future Star Factor: Well, Francia Raisa is starring in the forty-seventh reincarnation of The Cutting Edge…
The Gist: Teenage girl has great hair and magical powers. Bitch.
Why It's OK to Come Clean: Because the void left when Sabrina the Teenage Witch graduated college was begging to be filled by another supernatural teen, and anyone who's going to attempt to succeed Clarissa needs our seal of approval. Also, cute clothes.
Why It's Not: Because the above reason was the best excuse I could come up with.
Potential Future Star Factor: If there's one thing about show biz you can rely on, it's that Selena Gomez will someday be taking over the world, one crotch shot at a time.
Dahlia Adler is a frequent Gawker commenter, WordSmoker contributor, and television obsessive. She is writing a young adult novel and likes to pass her teen-TV love off as "research." She is a New Yorker currently living in Philadelphia.