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TV Smackdown! The Best Show About School

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Friday Night Lights goes back to school this Friday. NBC Photo: Bill Records

Aaron Barnhart and I do not call each other up and plan what to write about any given day, what to wear (he’s better dressed than I am) or anything else. But the same morning that I used my Aliens in America review to confess that I never felt the Summer of Love for The Wonder Years, Barnhart matches me blasphemy for blasphemy, volunteering that he never cared for Freaks and Geeks.

People are especially invested in TV shows about school, I think, because while we may not all have been cops or bionic women, we’ve just about all sat through assemblies and climbed (or descended) the popularity ladder. Anyway, it sounds like a challenge to me, and it’s time to pick sides: What’s your favorite TV series set in school? And as a sub-question, do you like your school shows realistic or escapist? (Barnhart, I should note, says F&G turned him off for much the same reason I liked it–it was too close to homeroom). [Update: Commenter Allison reminds me of Tim Goodman’s entry on the subject, of which my post is a total, 100% ripoff.]

It’s probably clear that F&G is tops for me, but I’d have to give close runner-up spots to Daria and the first year and a half of The O.C, off the top of my head. (And, if you expand the field to college, to my much-maligned top-100 list choice, Felicity.) As for current shows, Friday Night Lights is my undisputed state champion. But enough about me. Boy Meets World fans, represent!