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5 of the Greatest College TV Shows

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If you knew absolutely nothing about college life other than what you’d seen on TV, your knowledge and opinions might be a little skewed. A few aspects of college-themed TV shows are fairly realistic, but others are far-fetched or exaggerated.

If you knew absolutely nothing about college life other than what you’d seen on TV, your knowledge and opinions might be a little skewed. A few aspects of college-themed TV shows are fairly realistic, but others are far-fetched or exaggerated.

Creating a “best of” list on any topic is next to impossible since everyone has their favorites, but here are five of ours in reverse chronological order of when they were on the air:

1. Community | NBC, 2009-Present

Chevy Chase recently departed from this popular sitcom, which follows a group of community college students at the fictional Greendale Community College, but it’s been praised by critics and has accumulated quite the cult following since its premiere. The eclectic group of characters—intended to poke fun at the “traditional” melting pot of real-life community college students—include Jeff, a former lawyer who never really earned a law degree; Britta, a drop-out who’s trying to get her life back on track; Shirley, a single Christian mother who wants to start her own business; and Pierce, played by Chase, a bored millionaire taking classes for something to do. A fifth season of Community has not yet been officially announced.

2. Greek | ABC Family, 2007-2011

This comedy-drama followed an ensemble cast portraying fraternity and sorority members at the fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University (CRU). The show profiled students who were living the Greek life on campus and the issues that they faced. Greek was occasionally criticized for its stereotypical representation of the Greek system, as well as the fact that it routinely depicted common college activities like sex and drinking on a television network pitched as family-friendly. Greek lasted for four seasons, receiving accolades for its inclusion and portrayal of LGBT characters during its run.

3. Boy Meets World | ABC, 1993-2003

This sitcom chronicled the lives of central character Cory Matthews, portrayed by Ben Savage, and his friends and family, stretching from their elementary school years through college. Cory’s friend-turned-girlfriend and eventual wife, Topanga (Danielle Fishel) turned down the chance to go to Yale to attend the fictional Pennbrook University with Cory and their other friends. Boy Meets World was a comedy, yet it dealt with the usual, often-difficult coming of age issues and the problems that face adolescents as they evolve into young adults attending college. Thanks to its lasting popularity and continued cult following, a series spinoff featuring original cast members was announced in November 2012.

4. Felicity | The WB, 1998-2002

Title character Felicity, played by Keri Russell, followed a crush across the country to attend the fictional University of New York (seemingly based on the real New York University)—even though she hardly knew him and he barely even acknowledged her throughout high school. After deciding to stay in New York despite her parents protests, Felicity wound up in a four-year love triangle with her original crush and the resident advisor from her freshman dorm. Named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All TIME” in 2007, Felicity dealt with universal college issues like dorm life, harsh professors, changing majors, interracial dating, breaking up, cheating—both academically and romantically, parental divorce, teen pregnancy, marriage, part-time jobs, and an impending fear of “the real world.”

5. A Different World | NBC, 1987- 1993

A spinoff of The Cosby Show, A Different World focused on the lives of a group of students attending a fictional historically black college (HSBC). Fictional historically black fraternities and sororities were also depicted. This late 80s/early 90s college TV show often addressed serious issues that were avoided on television at the time, such as HIV/AIDS and racial problems. Two of the show’s main actors were Jasmine Guy as Whitley and Kadeem Hardison as Dwayne, but members of the ensemble cast included stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Sinbad, and Marisa Tomei.

Related Posts:

Top 10 Best College Movies

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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