13 Best College-Focused TV Shows

TV can take you into different realms, or give you a glimpse into different lives. Take, for example, certain swathes of TV shows that showcase college life: While they don’t necessarily project reality, they are certainly exciting to watch.

1.

unforeseen (2001-2003)

DreamWorks / © DreamWorks / Courtesy Everett / Everett Collection

While this now-cult show only lasted for one season, it managed to win over audiences everywhere with its comedic style and lovable cast. Steve Karp can’t wait to start his freshman year at the fictional University of North Eastern California. His enthusiasm is not long-lasting, however, as his father decides he wants to tag along. Jay Baruchel stars as the main character, with an exciting cast that includes Seth Rogen, Charlie Hunnam, and more.

2.

grown-isho (2018-)

Freeform / Giphy . Through

an off-shoot of black-ish, grown-isho Stands on its own two feet as an engaging, entertaining show. The series follows Zoey Johnson as she attends a liberal arts college, and navigates new relationships, new classes, and new issues. The series is really good at weaving in modern-day issues and does a great job of tackling a difficult topic while remaining fun and easily digestible. Yara Shahidi definitely plays Zoey, with Francia Raisa, Trevor Jackson and Emily Earluck coming in as new characters.

3.

Greek (2007-2011)

ABC Family / © ABC Family / Courtesy Everett Collection

The show ran for a total of four seasons on ABC Family (now known as Freeform) and depicts the lives of an ensemble cast as they navigate the various trivial pressures of Greek life. We have Casey Cartwright, a member of a high-level sorority, and her younger brother, Rusty, a freshman at the fictional Cypress-Rhodes University. Then there’s Evan Chambers, Casey’s boyfriend, and new Zeta Beta Zeta sorority recruit Rebecca Logan, and of course, Cappy. The show Rabble Rising focuses heavily on the social and love lives of the main characters and often features extravagant parties and all-in-goodness fun hedging.

4.

a different world (1987-1993)

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The Cosby Show The spinoff followed Dennis Huxtable, played by Lisa Bonet, as the (fictional) historically black Hillman attended college. While Bonet’s character left the show after the first season, the rest of the series focused on Whitley Gilbert-Wayne (played by Jasmine Guy) and Dwayne Cleophis Wayne (played by Kadim Hardison). The show ran for a total of six seasons and was inspired by student life in historically black colleges, tackling issues such as race, class, and the Equal Rights Amendment. It was also the first show to openly address the epidemiology of AIDS/HIV.

5.

Ultimate happiness (1998-2002)

WB / Via Giphy

Ah, what would she do for love… When the shy and sheltered Felicity Portman decides to restart her college plans, she follows her longtime crush Ben Covington to New York City. There, she begins to discover herself and her interests, learning to live on her own terms for the first time. However, Keri Russell plays an iconic role, and is widely regarded as one of the best TV show characters of the past 20 years.

6.

sweet / vicious (2016-2017)

MTV / © MTV / Courtesy Everett Collection

When a Good Girl’s sorority member, Jules Thomas (Eliza Bennett) takes on a vigilante personality to combat on-campus abuse and sexual assault, she joins computer nerd Ophelia Meyer (Taylor Dearden) after discovering Jules’ side. The gig comedy-drama series focuses on issues such as victim advocacy, reporting issues, and failures within the justice system. The short-running show only ran for one season on MTV but can be streamed on YouTube TV today.

7.

dear blondes (2017-2021)

via Netflix / Giphy

Based on a film of the same name, the critically acclaimed TV show ran for four seasons and is a must-see for anyone and everyone. With satirical elements in the drama, the comedy-drama-focused show follows a group of black students at the fictional Ivy League University of Windsor. Characters include Samantha White (Logan Browning), Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell), and Lionel Higgins (Deeron Horton) as they navigate cultural prejudice, social injustice, and sketchy politics in the play.

8.

hell (2010-2011)

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The short-lived CW show followed the lives of college cheerleaders at the fictional Lancer University. When ex-law student Marty Perkins (Aly Michalka) loses her scholarship, she is left with no choice but to join the cheer squad, in an attempt to get a new scholarship. He is paired with cheer captain Savannah Monroe (Ashley Tisdale) and must learn to navigate the demands of the game while simultaneously balancing his financial situation, his unruly mother, and his love life. based on Cheer: Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders By journalist Kate Torgovnik, the series never got to see a second season which was met with fan disappointment. We’ll never know what the Hellcats were to become.

9.

scream queens (2015-2016)

Fox / Giphy . Through

Producer Ryan Murphy knows how to satire and Scream Queens proves it. A series of murders sideline the students of the fictional Wallace University, most notably Kappa Kappa Tau, a high-powered sorceress on campus. Mean girl Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) witches her followers Chanel #2 (Ariana Grande) and Channel #3 (Abgail Breslin) with her antics while a mysterious dressed up as the Red Devil aka​ The figure terrorizes the school’s mascot, well, everyone. The slasher satire only ran for two seasons, with the third season confirmed as recently as 2020, Mary Murphy.

10.

Community (2010-2015)

Yahoo / © Yahoo / Courtesy Everett Collection

The much-loved show forces Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) to return to community college as a sharp-witted lawyer. Her attempts to woo a fellow student led her to form a study group that exceeded what she expected. The comedic sitcom ran for a full 6 seasons and also stars Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Ken Jeong and Gillian Jacobs.

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Magician (2015-2020)

SYFY / Giphy . Through

Quentin Coldwater has always been fascinated by magic and after discovering magic, in fact, exists, decides to attend Breakbill College for Magical Pedagogy as a graduate student. As disaster strikes a New York secret school, he begins to realize that the world of magic isn’t always safe. Based on the 2009 novel by Lev Grossman, the fictional fantasy series ran for a full 5 seasons and included elements of magical realism.

12.

fresh meat (2011-2016)

Channel Four / © Channel Four / Courtesy Everett Collection

The British comedy-drama series follows the lives of six students at the fictional Manchester Medlock University. Due to their late applications, they all live in off-campus housing rather than hostels, and as their lives become intertwined, they each deal with personal problems such as insecurities, unsuccessful romances, and financial issues. Based on the University of Manchester, the series stars Zave Ashton, Jack Whitehall, Kimberley Nixon, Joe Thomas and more.

13.

how to avoid murder (2014-2020)

ABC / Giphy . Through

Annalize Keating (the incredible Viola Davis!) is a high-powered criminal defense attorney and a prestigious professor of defense law at the University of Philadelphia. She always selects a group of students to assist in matters. Students Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), Conor Walsh (Jack Fallahi), Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), Asher Millstone (Matt McGorry), and Laurel Castillo (Carla Souza) are chosen and find themselves in an assassination plot. get confused. The Shonda Rhimes show garnered a huge following for a variety of reasons, but it feels like the characters never actually went to college? i know they Did But the show covered a lot of other plot lines and I feel like studying for a test or going to lectures rarely happened.

What are your favorite TV shows about college?

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