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5 Shows like Puberty Blues: It’s Hard Being a Teen

Roxanne_Sancto_itcher_contributorThey say teen friendships are the strongest and Debbie (Ashleigh Cummings) and Sue (Brenna Harding) can vouch for that. If you want to revisit the exhilarating days of your teenage years and reminisce about your high school friends with more shows like ‘Puberty Blues’, check out ‘Suburgatory’ and ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’. ~ Roxanne Sancto

Oh, god. Do I look alright?

Looks, appearance, fashionable clothes: those are only a few things teens tend to obsess about. Further freak-out factors include sex (or lack thereof), boys/girls in general, irrational parents, annoying siblings and body issues. It’s a tough phase to go through in life, especially if you’re doing it on your own. Fortunately, Debbie and Sue have each other to turn to.

‘Puberty Blues’ is based on the 1979 book by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey. The story was also made into a movie in 1981 starring Nell Schofield (Debbie) and Jad Capelja (Sue). Unlike the book, the film and the series aren’t quite as dark and much of the popular slang was omitted for a wider appeal.

Most of us have mixed feelings when we think back to our teen years. On one hand, it was the most thrilling time of our lives, on the other, it was also the most confusing and scary. If you want to tap into the Weltschmerz of being a teenager again without actually reliving it, check out more TV series like ‘Puberty Blues’ below.


Shows Similar to ‘Puberty Blues’…

‘Blue Water High’ (ABC1, 2005- )

We’re all spoiled when it comes to American and British TV shows but we don’t often get to see awesome series from Australia. If you’re into shows like ‘Puberty Blues’ which is set in Cronulla, Australia, you’ll find yourself getting hooked on ‘Blue Water High’ as well.

‘Blue Water High’ follows a group of 16-year-olds who have been elected to join a 12-month surfing programme at the top surfing academy Solar Blue. While their main focus is obviously the competition at hand, they are also exploring typical teen things: love, sex and partying.

Similarity Match: 85%
‘Blue Water High’ is not as in-depth an exploration of the characters’ personal and sex life as is ‘Puberty Blues’, but both are set in Australia and thus share the same cultural aspects and attitudes.

‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ (MTV Canada, 2013-2014)

The world of Degrassi was first created by Linda Schuyler and Kit Hood in 1979. It all started out with ‘The Kids of Degrassi Street’, a TV show set in Toronto’s Degrassi Street that follows the many children residing there. It gained such popularity that various spin-off shows were made including ‘Degrassi Junior High’ (1987), ‘Degrassi High’ (1989) and finally, ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation.’

‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ follows several high school teens from various different social groups as they navigate through life and its changes. The central group of teens is made up of stereotypical personalities such as the lonely straight A student, the perky cheerleader, the bad boy and Miss Popular.

Similarity Match: 80%
‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ deals with a lot of heavy teen issues such as bullying, rape and self-image, in a manner similar to ‘Puberty Blues’, though the former has a more modern feel.

‘Suburgatory’ (ABC, 2011-2014)

When George (Jeremy Sisto) finds a pack of condoms in his teenage daughter’s room, he panics. So much so, he decides to move out of the city and into the suburbs. Or ‘Suburgatory’ as Tessa (Jane Levy) likes to call her new digs.

Tessa is a typical teen girl who seems to hate the world and everyone in it: especially the super-hip, in-your-face, horn-ball moms of the neighbourhood. She’s determined to keep a healthy distance from her new-found small-town friends but soon finds herself getting wrapped up with the usual high school dramas: boys, sex and gossip.

Similarity Match: 70%
Though ‘Suburgatory’ does highlight typical teen issues, it’s more about the small-town vs. big-city differences. Yet, just as ‘Puberty Blues’ it depicts the trials and tribulations of a teen girl’s coming of age process.


If You Like ‘Puberty Blues’, You Will Like…

Aah yes, to be sixteen again. One day you’re obsessing about the hottest guy in school, the next you’re hating on him because…well, because he-said-she-said-and-then-he-said and you were, like, all, oh my god!

Being a teen has its upsides and downsides and series similar to ‘Puberty Blues’ highlight them perfectly. If you’re looking for more throwbacks to teenage-hood, check out ‘Some Girls’ and ‘Being Eve’.

‘Some Girls’ (BBC Three, 2012- )

‘Some Girls’ has been described as the female answer to ‘The Inbetweeners’. It follows four sixteen-year-old girls who all live on the same housing estate in South London and attend the same high school. They are all superstitious football players for their high school’s brutal team.

The main character is Viva (Adelayo Adedayo) and she’s probably the smartest in the group; she hopes to become a celebrity psychologist one day. Her friends are all very different: Amber (Alice Felgate) is the typical boy-crazy “dumb” blonde; Saz (Mandeep Dhillon), is a sarcastic Sikh maths geek and Holli, has anger issues.

‘Some Girls’ discuss a lot of the same subjects as Debbie and Sue in ‘Puberty Blues’, only ‘Some Girls’ is more comical and its characters quite superficial.

‘Being Eve’ (TV3, 2001-2002)

Eve (Fleur Saville) is fifteen years old and attends the Eden Heights High School. She wants to believe that she will find love one day but she has her doubts – maybe because her parents are divorced. Her best friends are Matt (Lionel Wickliffe), an aspiring dancer and Sylvie (Joanna Morrison) a drama-queen who only ever talks about boys.

‘Being Eve’ is a lot more light-hearted and innocent compared to ‘Puberty Blues’, but the protagonists of both shows deal with similar issues.


Once you get over that peak of puberty, you hit a nice stride…

Those are some wise words by Claire Danes, but they won’t help anyone who has actually reached that peak and feels completely and utterly stuck in it. Shows like ‘Puberty Blues’ and ‘Some Girls’ tend to remind us that, while being a teen can be wonderful and a real kick at times it can also be the complete opposite: a real kick in the ass.

Which characters of any of these shows remind you of your own pubescent blues?

My name is Roxanne Sancto and I’ll be writing all things music, book and movie related for itcher mag. I also write for New Heroes & Pioneers’ upcoming Festival and Culture magazines, to be launched in the spring of 2014. I am the co-author of The Pink Boots and am currently working on two new novels. I love music, literature, cinema, crafting, yoga and animals.
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