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    16 Groundbreaking Moments From '00s Shows That We Still Think About Today

    A lot of these shows were ahead of their time.

    by ,

    The 2000s were truly a golden age of television. It gave us so many iconic love triangles, friendships, and relationships that we still talk about to this day.

    "One Tree Hill" Season 4 Cast
    CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

    However, these shows also sometimes handled heavy, complicated subjects. And, while some things from that era don't hold up, a lot of these storylines were actually done super well.

    Here are 16 times '00s shows did a really good job of handling serious topics:

    Spoilers ahead!

    Note: Some of the following contain mentions of sexual assault, eating disorders, and abuse.

    1. First, when Buffy's mom died suddenly on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

    The paramedic tells Buffy her mom is dead and died a while before Buffy found her, and then tells her there's nothing she could've done
    The WB

    "The Body" is truly one of the most accurate depictions of the direct aftermath of someone's death. Buffy's immediate reactions, as well as the different ways that her friends and sister respond, are such a great exploration of grief and its effects in a way that truly makes anyone who has lost someone feel seen. Everyone talks about Anya's monologue, but one of the most impactful parts for us was when Buffy talked to Tara about how she doesn't even feel like she's there, and Tara talked about how death always feels sudden.

    2. When Jimmy brought a gun to school on One Tree Hill:

    Jimmy holds the students hostage, Nathan says to stop pointing the gun at Haley
    The WB

    This episode will always stick with us for a number of reasons.

    3. When Manny became pregnant at 14 and decided to have an abortion on Degrassi: The Next Generation:

    Manny says she wouldn't want to give a baby a crappy life with a mom who isn't ready and argues with Emma about it

    This episode was initially banned in the US when it first aired in Canada, which is such a shame because it's an incredible episode. Cassie Steele's performance was great, and the way Manny explained her decision — she simply wasn't ready to be a mom, and she didn't want to go through carrying a pregnancy to term at such a young age — was perfect. We also loved that they had Manny confide in Spike and that, despite having chosen to keep Emma as a teen mom herself, Spike was totally supportive of Manny's decision.

    4. When Paul died on 8 Simple Rules:

    Cate hugs her daughters, saying there's no right way to deal with this — Bridget says she was trying hard to be happy because if she was happy everything would be normal, and Kerry says she felt guilty that something good was happening in her life

    The sudden nature and aftermath of Paul's death was especially poignant, as the character died due to actor John Ritter's sudden death in real life. They captured the conflicting feelings of anger and guilt over happiness so well, and it was such a realistic depiction of grief.

    5. When Willow came out to Buffy on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

    Willow says things are complicated because of Tara, and Buffy says that's great and Tara is a great girl, and Willow says there's something powerful between them, then asks if Buffy is freaked – she says no, and she's glad Willow told her

    It certainly wasn't a "coming out" scene that we'd see on later teen dramas, and Willow never says "I'm gay" (at least, not until later) — but for 2000, Willow having feelings for Tara and immediately being accepted by Buffy was really powerful to see. Buffy's reaction still felt realistic — she was definitely caught off guard — but no one on the show made a joke about it or considered it a "phase," and Willow and Tara were seen for who they were rather than any label or stereotype.

    6. When Miranda dealt with anorexia on Lizzie McGuire:

    Miranda talks about the pressure she's under and how hard everything feels, and says that eating feels like the only thing she has any control over
    Disney Channel

    We absolutely love when Gordo responds to Miranda's above speech saying, "That's not true," and Miranda replies, "But that's how it feels." It's such a small but impactful moment to show the importance of emotions and mental health, and of friends validating those feelings. The way Lizzie dealt with this, too, was such a good lesson for kids, and we felt like this episode truly tackled how much pressure kids can be under.

    7. When Anna explained bisexuality on One Tree Hill:

    The WB

    This was one of the first times a character actually outright said the words "I'm bisexual" on TV. Even today, a lot of TV shows seem to avoid using the word "bisexual," so this was pretty progressive for 2004. It was refreshing to see One Tree Hill have an LGBTQ character, even if Anna was only there for one season.

    8. When Chase’s grandma died on Zoey 101:

    Zoey comforts Chase

    We think it's so important for kids shows to handle topics like death, especially because so many kids deal with the death of a grandparent. This storyline was brief, but Zoey comforting Chase was such a powerful scene — she was just there for him quietly.

    9. When Adrian and Ben's baby was stillborn on The Secret Life of the American Teenager:

    Amy holding Adrian crying

    This show isn't usually known for its realistic storylines, but this moment was so incredibly well done. It was absolutely shocking, and the way the show depicted Adrian's grief was devastating to watch. That scene where Adrian breaks down in the hospital bed while Amy holds her is one of the best-acted teen drama scenes ever, honestly.

    10. When Joey found out Craig was being abused by his father on Degrassi: The Next Generation:

    Sean and Emma tell Joey that Craig's dad beats him; Angie says, "I saw today, all purple, a dinosaur hurts him"

    The fact that this was Craig's first episode really showcases just how amazing Jake Epstein was in this role. Joey taking Craig in as his son made us so emotional. The way they utilized his little sister, Angie (Cassie Steele's real-life sister, by the way!), was also brilliant. This show was always ahead of its time and never shied away from tackling tough subjects.

    11. When Katara let the man who killed her mother go in Avatar: The Last Airbender:

    Katara said she wanted to take out all her anger on the man but couldn't and doesn't know if it's because she's weak or strong

    While this may not seem like a super-relatable scenario, Katara struggling to deal with the anger over her mother's murder is something that those who lose loved ones to violence do deal with. Avatar consistently dealt with war, grief, and anger in a nuanced, insightful way, even though it was a kids show. This episode showed that vengeance doesn't bring peace but also challenged the idea that you have to forgive those who have hurt you.

    12. When Kurt came out to his dad on Glee:

    Kurt tells his dad he's gay, and Burt says he knows and has since Kurt was 3, and doesn't love it, but there's nothing he can do about it, and he loves him just as much

    Burt was accepting of his son from the start, even though it wasn't something he was thrilled about — and over time, he became more and more supportive, providing such a great example of being an accepting and loving parent. Kurt dealt with a ton of anti-gay sentiment and bullying, which did feel realistic and impactful to show, but it also felt really important to show that there is also so much love and support that comes with being out.

    13. When Sid's dad died, and he didn't know what to do on Skins:

    Sid says he came to school because he didn't know what else to do, and Tony asks what happened, but Sid says he can't say it

    The way Sid had no idea how to cope and just went to school like everything was fine and normal was so heartbreaking to watch. It felt like such a realistic depiction of grief, especially in regards to losing a parent at a young age.

    14. When Raven dealt with a racist store owner who wouldn't hire her because she was Black on That's So Raven:

    Raven has a vision of Chloe saying, "The truth is I don't hire Black people"

    It was definitely jarring to see such an blunt depiction of racism on a normally lighthearted Disney Channel show, but this episode was so important. The whole storyline was really well done, and it's still very relevant today.

    15. When Paige was raped at party on Degrassi: The Next Generation:

    Paige says she didn't want to do it and said no but Dean wouldn't listen; Hazel says that's rape

    This whole storyline was absolutely heartbreaking from start to finish. From Paige coming to the realization that her "first time" was actually rape to Dean being found not guilty in court, it was crushingly realistic. It's even more powerful when you consider that Degrassi had actual teenage actors playing these roles.

    16. And finally, when Kirsten realized she needed help with her alcoholism on The O.C.:

    Kirsten says she's not going to rehab, and Seth begs her to do this

    The O.C. tackled a number of serious topics, and Ryan and Seth taking on the very adult role of asking Kirsten to get help really stands out. The whole family gave amazing performances, and the intervention scene in particular is outstanding.

    Got another example of a '00s show handling a serious topic well? Tell us in the comments.

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