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Is there any better way to advance the plot of a teen drama or sitcom than by having the characters learn about or perform Romeo and Juliet? It seems that just about every teen star has been forced to play the roles. First kiss drama? Insane jealousy? Learning about love? Worry that your boyfriend has been cast as Romeo while you are the nurse? These TV shows have got it all.

Saved by the Bell - episode "The Substitute"

Combine a dreamy substitute teacher and a class reading of Romeo and Juliet to create utter chaos at Bayside High. When all of the girls go mad over their new “Romeo,” the boys grow increasingly jealous and paranoid—as would any adolescent male when forced to compete with a Shakespearean dreamboat.

 

Degrassi High - episode "Nobody’s Perfect"

Given that Degrassi has been on television in some form for close to 30 years, it’s no wonder that the kids of Degrassi have performed Romeo and Juliet numerous times.

When Kathleen has to practice with slacker Luke, it enrages her abusive boyfriend, Scott. Though she protests that it is merely for a school assignment, he sees it as cheating. He continues to denigrate her acting skills, warning her that she will likely embarrass herself. Degrassi uses the words of the Bard to show the tenuous and sometimes dangerous aspects of teenage relationships.

But in the B plot of the same episode, we also see Joey and Caitlin working together to practice the balcony scene. Caitlin is changing, developing an interest in politics and moving away from Joey’s juvenile antics. She tells him that their own star-crossed relationship is over, but hopes that they can remain friends. As if it could be that easy, Caitlin and Joey. They are still working it out on Degrassi: The Next Generation. And speaking of the next generation...

 

Degrassi: The Next Generation - episode "The Mating Game"

Fast forward to 2001 and Degrassi still knows that Romeo and Juliet is the best way to create tension in a relationship. When Jimmy and Paige are assigned the roles, his girlfriend Ashley is jealous and afraid that she will lose him if she doesn’t take their relationship to the next level. Despite the fact that Juliet was only 13 when she married Romeo, after an honest talk, Ashley and Jimmy realize that they are happy with their relationship and are in no rush to grow up.

 

Boy Meets World - Pilot episode

Here's a show that wastes no time in trotting out good ol' R&J. In the pilot episode of Boy Meets World, sixth-grader Cory and his classmates learn about love through the play, Romeo and Juliet. In this case, Cory isn’t infatuated with any of the girls in his class, but he is infatuated with baseball. When his brother, Eric, takes a girl to a baseball game instead of him, he can’t imagine why. But after a talk with Mr. Feeny in detention about love, he begins to see the value in the opposite sex. When Eric’s date bombs, Cory offers up his newfound advice.

 

Full House - episodes "Michelle Rides Again," parts 1 & 2

In the two part series finale of Full House, the Tanner household is facing many changes. In the midst of all of the family drama, Stephanie is cast as Juliet in their school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. She has a crush on her partner, but he always freezes up before they are going to kiss—classic Stephanie.

 

Gilmore Girls - episode "Run Away, Little Boy"

Being cast as Juliet while your boyfriend watches rehearsal can lead to its fair share of tension. After Rory and Dean split up, she shared a confusing kiss with Tristan. After reconciling with Dean, she figures that it would be better not to tell Dean the truth. But when Dean, wary of Tristan’s constant flirting with Rory, wants to watch their rehearsals, Rory begs Tristan to keep his mouth shut. However, all the practice is for naught on the day of the performance when Tristan leaves Chilton.


Jennifer Morell's picture

Jennifer Morell

Jennifer Ray Morell is a teacher and writer from Queens, New York. Her work has appeared in Slate, Tin House, Trop, Newtown Literary, and Underwater New York. Follow her on twitter at @heyjenray or at jenraymorell.com.