This was such a wonderful show and it is either a travesty or an absolute blessing that it was cancelled after one series. I can't decide which.
It remains one of the most accurate depictions of teenage life that I have ever seen on television. There was no rigid hierarchy, like in most teen movies or tv series. Yes, there were cheerleaders and jocks, but they were not depicted as demi-gods or mini all-powerful adults. They were just kids.
The dialogue was not a series of polished, post-graduate standard soliloquies, but the language of actual teenagers. Sometimes it was overblown melodrama; Angela: "School is a battlefield... for your heart.." and sometimes it was just completely inarticulate; Brian: "So maybe this is what people mean. When they talk about... you know ... life."
Whole episodes revolved around events like dances, gigs, a note passed around class or just a rumour. These small, yet enormous topics were explored fully in a wry yet completely unpatronising way. These characters were real people, not just ciphers.
Angela, the protagonist, begins the series defecting from her usual group of friends to hang out with the troublesome yet fun Rayanne and the sweet, sexually confused Ricky. Her ex best friend, Sharon, and her neighbour Brian are irritants because they know her so well and are therefore preventing her from being cool. Angela is in love with Jordan Catalano who is somewhat unaware, but not uninterested.
The character of Sharon is very interesting and is perhaps a key indicator of why this show is so good. She is very conservative in dress and ambition, close to her mother, active in school groups and hurt when she is rejected by her best friend Angela. But she is not a nerd. Sharon is one of the most confident and competent characters in the show. She is the one who ends up dating a popular boy openly, not Angela, and it is her who is sexually experienced and ends up giving the other girls advice. There is no convenient high school movie label for her.
Parents and family were just as important in this show as the friends and boyfriends. Sometimes, Angela was not allowed to go out and sometimes she stayed in with her parents to avoid facing her peers. The parents were not comedy characters, nor empty adult figures, they were real too! They were just as confused, frightened and inarticulate as their kids and often had no idea whether or not they were doing the right thing. The same goes for the teachers.
It was released on DVD a couple of years ago and is worth every penny.