I remember when I was younger, I would get home from school or wake up early Saturday morning and immediately turn on the TV to watch some of my favorite after TNBC shows. Recently, I took a day off of work to enjoy some alone time, and I flipped on the tube and was gravely disappointed to see the sad excuse for after school programming. However, it did get me thinking about some of my favorite TNBC shows.
City Guys was part of the greatness that was TNBC. Now, I know it doesn’t exactly qualify as after school programming, however it follows a lot of the same premise and formulas as other after school programs such as Saved by the Bell. The show is mainly driven by two characters, Chris and Jamal. Chris initially went to a high society school, however he gets kicked to the curb and ends up going to the same school as Jamal. As you can imagine, hilarity coupled with life lessons ensue when Chris, the Upper East Side preppy kid, and Jamal, the streetwise wannabe hustler, both transferred to a Manhattan high school. Ultimately, what made this show memorable for me was the sheer urbanism of it all. Now, it is by no means “urban” in the truest sense of the word today, however it did bring a far more diverse cast and introduced a city background that showed more city grit instead of a picture perfect beach.
Speaking of the picture perfect beach background, I can’t think of an after school program that fits this stereotype any better. While California Dreams fell off the clich© tree and hit every branch on the way down, it is the music that really set this series apart from the others. The show’s plot followed a bunch of high schoolers who all so happened to be in a band together. The acting was terrible, their story plots were carbon copies of Saved by the Bell story lines, and overall there isn’t much unique about this show. That is, except for the fantastic songs that stemmed from this show. To this day, I still find myself You Tubing the California Dreams band playing their signature theme song and other various songs. This was the show that made me want to start a band and learn how to play the guitar, part of me still hasn’t given up this thought.
I’m not sure U.S.A. High ever really took off as a great TNBC or after school program, but I for one absolutely loved it. The show followed six students who were enrolled at the American Academy boarding school in Paris, France. The “Zack Morris” and “Kelly Kapowski” of this show were definitely Jackson Greene and Lauren Fontaine. It was the tension between these two characters that initially attached me to this show. In true TNBC fashion, the story lines were recycled for what must have been the fifth or sixth time. In fact, they even recycled some of the actors from other TNBC shows. Most notably, the character Dwane “Excess” Wilson was played by the same actor who played the character Tony Wicks on California Dreams. All in all, this show made me wish I had been shipped off to boarding school so I could run around Paris with my scholarly cohorts.
Personally, I think One World was one of the more ground breaking TNBC shows. The premise of the show focused on a family living in Miami with six teens from various backgrounds who were all adopted. This was one of the first TNBC shows to take the cookie cutter Saved by the Bell formula and put an updated spin on it. They dealt with different ethnic and racial issues that affected these adopted children. I especially like the show because it didn’t dress up and glamorizing being adopted. It addressed the differences and the troubles that come with being adopted and adopting children.
The ultimate “as if” TNBC show was most definitely Hang Time. The plot centered around a boys high school basketball team with one of the players being a female. Ultimately, the female tried out and joined the boys basketball team because there wasn’t a girls basketball team. Now, if you suspend belief that this would ever happen in the real world, the show really wasn’t half bad. I think a lot of this was attributed to the constant cast changes throughout the six seasons. With the constant cast changes we didn’t get too caught up in one singe story line that can notoriously drag down a teen series. Overall, this wasn’t my absolute favorite TNBC show, but I definitely watched it every time it came on the TV.
In retrospect, I’m sure if I sat down and watched some of these episodes again I wouldn’t feel the same as I did back in the day. However, these shows to bring back some of great memories from my childhood.