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The Best Years



A look at college life, Degrassi style.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Overall these teen characters aren't the best models for responsible behavior -- though much of what they do probably isn't that far off of what goes in on real-life colleges. They sleep around (some with professors), drink a lot, don't appreciate their friendships, and often manipulate others' emotions.


In one scene, a drunk teen dies after falling from a rooftop. There's no blood, but his lifeless body is shown.


Various states of undress -- like the rear view of a woman in a bra. Storylines include allusions to sexual relationships -- for example, a girl makes a provocative tape of herself to spark a guy's interest, and a student sleeps with his professor. College dorms have co-ed bathrooms.


Occasional use of words like "ass," "bitch," "hell," and "damn."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The teen college students go to bars and drink alcohol (many are of legal drinking age in Canada, where the series is made). In one scene, drunkenness leads one character to fall to his death from a rooftop.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this college drama from the former head writer of teen favorite Degrassi: The Next Generation tackles just as many issues as that show -- albeit in a somewhat soap-operaish way. Romantic relationships among students (and in one case, between a student and his married professor) include sex; sometimes the girls use their bodies to gain guys' interest. Expect some mild language ("bitch," "damn," etc.) and lots of underage drinking -- though the latter sometimes comes with consequences: In one episode, a drunk teen falls to his death from a rooftop. (It's worth noting that many of the characters would be of age in Canada, where the series is made -- though it takes place in the United States.)

What's the story?

THE BEST YEARS centers on Samantha Best (Charity Shea), a newcomer to Massachusetts' prestigious Charles University. An orphan who's been shuttled through the foster care system for 10 years, Samantha sees her full-ride scholarship as a ticket to a new life, and she's full of expectation as the school year begins. But it's not long before she learns that college is full of pitfalls as well as opportunities -- and that her own identity is subject to constant revision. From going to parties at the campus hotspot to handling friends' personal crises, Samantha finds that college life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes it's all she can do to navigate the uncertainty and reach her full potential. And if that's not enough, it seems her chances at success are sometimes threatened by outside forces as well.

Is it any good?


Following his tremendous success as head writer on hit teen series Degrassi: The Next Generation, Aaron Martin has turned his focus to the college world in The Best Years. Teens -- especially those contemplating or already familiar with college life -- will relate to many of the issues of identity facing the characters in The Best Years: "Where do I go from here?" "What do I value?" "Who am I, and what do I want out of life?"

The series puts a soap-opera spin on real campus life, with viable storylines enhanced for dramatic effect. Samantha's relationship with her roommate, Kathryn (Jennifer Miller), a rich socialite from the Midwest, gets off to a rocky start when the two disagree in the aftermath of a tragic accident. Handsome basketball star Devon (Brandon Jay McLaren) quickly catches Samantha's eye and causes plenty of distraction from her work, and Hollywood celeb Dawn Vargas (Athena Karkanis) looks to Samantha for the down-to-earth philosophy she's craving from "real" life. While it's sure to entertain your teens, be sure they understand the realistic implications of the frequent underage drinking, occasional strong language, and sexual relationships between the characters.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the issues the show raises. What are the dangers of drinking too much? What risks come along with casual sex? What messages does the show send to teens about responsible behavior? Do the characters suffer consequences from their actions? Why is that important? Teens: What impression does this show give of college life? Do you think it's realistic? What aspects, if any, seem exaggerated?

TV details

Cast:Athena Karkanis, Brandon Jay McLaren, Charity Shea
Network:The N
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written bycalmreader May 5, 2009

The best show EVER

I seriously am in love with devin. Sam was stupid to dump him. Lol. This is a good show for any teen from 12-15 or higher. I love all the shows on the-n, and even have an account on
Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2008
Teen, 14 years old Written byFancyReality June 28, 2011

Boring Show with Interesting Topics

Very boring show. Depicts real-life situations with bad acting so it feels unrealistic. Not "Degrassi style" at all. When I watched Degrassi it felt real. If you do watch this show, they're some topics to talk about in this show. Sam's roomate makes some sort of sex tape (it isn't really shown.) Then when her boyfriend sexually assaults her she isn't believed. The female African-American believed she's the best and acted like a diva during the school play. These 2 characters would be great for parents to discuss w/ their kids. In the end they both realize the error of their ways. Sam's biological mom would also be a point of interest. She told Sam she had a good life now and didn't want her disrupting it. That seems quite heartless and parents can discuss adoption w/ their kids and what they thought of Sam's birth mom's reaction to her arrival.
What other families should know
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