TV programming for teenagers has changed a lot over the years, as anyone who has watched both The Brady Bunch and Skins can attest. But there have been a few constants: a central clique, parent-child disputes, and the archetypal teenage hangout. While, originally, these mostly took the form of wholesome diners, they eventually evolved to include nightclubs and music venues… and have recently shown signs of morphing into something even more sinister. Journey with us, if you will, through over 35 years of teen TV hangout spots, from Happy Days to Gossip Girl.
Arnold’s Drive-In, Happy Days (1974-1984)
Arnold’s was the glue that held this classic, long-running sitcom together. The diner, which was decorated with pennants and wood paneling, in high ’50s style, was a meeting place for high schoolers of all social strata — a fact that ensured there was always some drama happening there. While the place’s original namesake owner made a brief appearance in the show’s first season, he was soon replaced by Pat Morita’s Arnold, a Japanese gentleman who earned the nickname when people assumed the diner was named after him. But, of course, our favorite Arnold’s personality will always be Al. If you had any doubts about Arnolds’ continued social significance, need we remind you that Weezer shot their breakthrough music video for “Buddy Holly.”
The Grease, Square Pegs (1982-1983)
Like many kids who grow up in the area surrounding New York City, the geeky Square Pegs crew spent much of their time at a Greek diner. Nicknamed “The Grease,” its official named was Acropolis. And, considering the parade of New Wave hits that played in the restaurant, it must have had a pretty sweet jukebox.
The Max, Saved By the Bell (1989-1993)
Ah, The Max: bright colors, geometric shapes, that tiny booth that somehow fit the entire SBTB gang — and, of course, Max, the place’s magician proprietor. Bayside’s favorite burger joint hosted everything from study dates to musical performances. It also employed Kelly.
The Peach Pit, Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000)
Modeled after LA standby The Applepan (which also served as the diner’s original exterior), The Peach Pit was an oasis of quaint ’50s friendliness in the cruel world of ’90s teen drama. Various characters (most notably Brendan) worked at the Pit during the series’ decade-long span, and, for some reason, owner/manager Nat Bussichio was especially fond of the Beverly Hills brats. Eventually, The Peach Pit expanded, launching a nightclub called The Peach Pit After Dark, where a slew of real bands (Soul Coughing! The Flaming Lips!) performed and cast members threw drinks in each other’s faces. Meanwhile, on the revived CW series, The Peach Pit has been transformed into a coffee shop, which we consider nothing short of sacrilege.