August 12, 2014 10:52 AM EDT

Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz made their name in TV with thirtysomething, a drama about solipsistic adults who saw their every minor crisis as an all-consuming tragedy. In other words, they acted like teenagers. And in the producers’ follow-up high-school drama, the same navel-gazing was somehow more sympathetic and appropriate. Angela Chase (Claire Danes) was a fully realized TV teen, smart and perceptive one minute, whiny and unstable the next, ready to burst into red-faced tears after getting jerked around by learning-challenged heartthrob Jordan Catalano. Angela’s narration was angsty in that ’90s, suburban, I’ve-listened-to-In-Utero-a-million-times way—”School is a battlefield for your heart”—but she won the battle for our hearts anyway.

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