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Experience high school all over again
Our long national nightmare is over. That's right, Riverdale has finally returned from its long hiatus! Now that Season 5 is airing on The CW, no one would blame you if you said it re-awakened your passion for teen shows. The good news is that Netflix makes it incredibly easy to revisit your high school years with the many, many teen shows available for your viewing pleasure (or discomfort, depending).
In fact, the library of teen shows on Netflix is so massive (and constantly growing) that it can be a bit overwhelming if you don't know just what you're looking for. Fortunately for you, we combed through all the currently available titles to round up the absolute best and most binge-worthy teen shows on Netflix. So if you're in the market for your next teen TV obsession, look no further than the list below.
Looking for more recommendations of what to watch next? We have a ton of them! And if you're looking for hand-picked recommendations based on shows you love, we have those too.
Atypical is the kind of show that will move you to tears several times a season. The heartwarming family dramedy centers on the Gardner family, whose eldest son, Sam (Keir Gilchrist), is on the autism spectrum. His family members, including his mother Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and sister Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine), are incredibly protective of him, especially when Sam decides he would very much like to start exploring his own independence and maybe even find a girlfriend. While it's certainly not a perfect show -- Gilchrist, for one, is neurotypical, which has raised concerns with the autistic community about representation -- it's a heartfelt series that really takes time and care to delicately flesh out the experience of being a teen with autism. -Allison Picurro
The lives of teens at a Brooklyn high school are shaken up following a bombing in this gritty urban drama. But the real issues don't come from the terrorists, they come from the pressures of being a teenager, including bullying, race issues, violence, and sexism. However, you should be warned: This show is raw. -Tim Surette
It's a shame that this Netflix co-production with USA Network was released late in 2019 because it missed out on a lot of deserved buzz during the winter break. Dare Me is a dark look at hyper-competitive high school cheerleading, and the butting of heads between the cheerleaders and the new coach (Willa Fitzgerald), who has some secrets that she's trying to keep bottled up. It was canceled after one season, but there's hope that Netflix saves it. -Tim Surette
The title is pretty self-explanatory, but I'll spell it out for you: A pair of Christian Academy high schoolers become bounty hunters in this dramedy. The twins accidentally land a gig cuffing fugitives to earn some extra cash while also dealing with teen issues, including sex and sexuality, obviously creating a fun romp that never takes itself too seriously. [Season 1 review] -Tim Surette
Trinkets unfortunately falls into Netflix's most popular subgenre — "canceled after two seasons" — but the two seasons it did get were great TV that had a whole lot of heart. Three teen girls, Elodie (Brianna Hildebrand), Moe (Kiana Madeira), and Tabitha (Quintessa Swindell), form an unlikely trio after meeting in a Shoplifters Anonymous group, but hide their friendship at school because of their vastly different personas and backgrounds. It's one of those shows that's so good you'll want to watch all of it at once, but word of warning: Be prepared to hit up Spotify immediately after you finish to stream the entire soundtrack. -Allison Picurro
Darkly funny and unexpectedly emotional, The End of the F***ing World follows James (Alex Lawther), a 17-year-old boy who has self-diagnosed himself as a psychopath and decides he'd like to graduate from killing animals to killing a person. He settles on Alyssa (Jessica Barden), a foul-mouthed classmate with a rebellious streak who is privately dealing with an abusive step-father and a mother who doesn't understand her. When she takes a liking to James and proposes they run away together, James agrees with the intention of killing her, only to find that the bond between them is stronger than he ever could've predicted. It's a coming of age story with a ridiculous series of mishaps, a dash of criminal activity, and two leads you can't help but love. [Season 2 Review] -Allison Picurro
Whether or not you're already a fan of K-dramas, Boys Over Flowersis worth adding to your Netflix queue if you like truly wild teen shows. The iconic 2009 series follows a working-class teenage girl, Geum Jan-di (Ku Hye-sun) whose life becomes entangled with those of an elite group of wealthy male high school students, known as F4, who often wield their power to bully others. Though Jan-di is initially disgusted by the worship culture surrounding F4 and their actions, she slowly begins to see their humanity underneath all the arrogance and cruelty -- and their leader, Gu Jun-yo (Lee Min-ho), slowly starts to fall for her in turn. Boys Over Flowers is a melodramatic and absolutely unpredictable must-see series, and it's a perfect introduction to the joys of K-dramas if you haven't watched any before.
This South African drama has all the hallmarks of an instant addiction: It's set at a wealthy prep school. It follows a group of scheming teens. And there's a complex mystery propelling the action forward. The show stars Ama Qamata as Puleng Khumalo, a 16-year-old who decides to transfer schools because she is convinced a student at the elite academy may be her long-lost sister. Blood & Water is juicy, but never over the top, and it's grounded by standout performances by Qamata and Khosi Ngema, who plays Puleng's suspected sister Fikile Bhele.
Co-creators Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher put a fresh spin on a familiar coming-of-age story in this lovable dramedy about a young Indian girl Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) who is determined to improve her life after the death of her father. Devi wants a lot of things in the series' first season -- a boyfriend, higher social status, less arm hair, to destroy her academic rival -- but she has a tendency to go about trying to achieve things in the type of self-blind, self-righteous way teenagers love to do. While these conflicts often lead to laughs, Never Have I Ever will also leave you weeping (and probably more than once) throughout its cathartic 10-episode first season, which is as much about a grieving family trying to come together as it is about a high school sophomore determined to hook up with the hottest guy in school. [Season 1 Review]
This show is so silly, but in the best way possible. It will have you cackling with glee one minute, screaming at a character's idiocy the next, and then scratching your head wondering why a high schooler is doing a strip tease while singing "Mad World" karaoke at a biker bar. But the thing is, when characters are as bone-headed as the ones in Riverdale, it becomes believable that they'll do anything. Meaning: nothing is off limits and anything is possible in this wild CW drama. Even a high schooler being a mole for the FBI. Or a high schooler running a local biker gang. Or a high schooler being killed by a bear in one episode only to be revived and have to take his SATs in the next. Riverdale is just self-aware enough to let you know the writers and actors are in on the joke without compromising the earnestness with which the actors take on these absurd situations, allowing viewers to get seriously emotionally invested in these comically surreal storylines.
A charming and colorful teen dramedy, Sex Education stars Asa Butterfield as Otis, the son of a sex therapist (Gillian Anderson) who uses his second-hand knowledge to start a ramshackle sex advice business for his fellow students with the help of his crush Maeve (Emma Mackey). Ncuti Gatwa also stars as Eric, Otis' gay best friend who comes from a religious Ghanaian family, falls for a closeted guy at school, and who manages to steal pretty much every scene he's in. This Netflix Original perfectly balances being a realistic look at the challenges of being a high schooler today and refreshing escape. Plus, the show's aesthetic is a deliberate homage to John Hughes' films of the '80s, which only contributes to the show's endearing and timelessness vibe. [Season 1 Review | Season 2 Review]
Netflix's teen-centric drama Outer Banks isn't going to go down in history as one of the great teen shows -- in fact, it's pretty ludicrous and we still can't believe it's entirely real -- but it's an easy way to kill a weekend. Set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the series follows a group of working class teens, known as the Pogues, as they look for the long lost treasure of an ancient shipwreck. Netflix calls the show a mashup of Dawson's Creek and The Goonies, seemingly in an attempt to play on the nostalgia of older viewers and capture an audience outside of today's youth. As the teens uncover clue after clue, they find themselves in increasingly dangerous waters, with a growing list of enemies and fighting for their lives. The teens, led by John B (Chase Stokes), make decisions without giving much thought to the consequences of their actions, but that's arguably the part of Outer Banks that feels most authentic; teens are selfish and impulsive, driven largely by hormones. And that sums up a lot of the drama that drives much of the narrative, especially after John B falls for a rich girl who feels trapped by her upbringing. So if you're looking for something to watch right now, Outer Banks is an excellent escape from our own world, right when we need it the most. - Kaitlin Thomas [Season 1 Review]
Starring Nina Dobrev as a teenage orphan who finds herself torn between two vampire brothers, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder), The CW drama has everything you could ever want in a teen show: a great love triangle to get overly invested in, a well-developed ensemble of characters to root for (and relate to), and a rich mythology that leads to surprising twists and shocking betrayals. It's no wonder The Vampire Diaries launched two spin-offs with all that going on! And with eight seasons available to stream, there are more than enough episodes to make for a satisfying binge.
The second spin-off of The Vampire Diaries, Legacies breaks form from the flagship drama by delivering a monster-of-the-week format. Following the staff and supernatural students of the Salvatore School, the show tells the stories of werewolf-witch-vampire hybrid Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell), witches Josie (Kaylee Bryant) and Lizzie Saltzman (Jenny Boyd), and others as they battle monsters and all the regular challenges of growing up, including falling in love, family feuds, and finding your voice. It's definitely more playful than The Vampire Diaries was, but that doesn't mean Legacies doesn't know how to deliver some serious teenage ennui when it counts.
Why should you watch this Canadian import? Because it goes there! Much like the beloved Degrassi: The Next Generation, Next Classcontinues the Degrassi franchise's mission of taking the real challenges teens face and confronting them head-on with a perfect mix of educational teachings, melodrama, and self-aware humor. Next Class also continues to push boundaries on TV, featuring one of the few genderqueer main characters on television. But if you're worried that watching Next Class will be like watching a few days' worth of health class PSAs, there are a lot of great characters who help turn the show's informative messages into an addictive binge, including Miles (Eric Osbourne), a bisexual rich kid struggling with addiction; Lola (Amanda Arcuri), a boy-crazy cheerleader who is repeatedly underestimated; and Goldi (Soma Bhatia), a feminist, Muslim activist who secretly begins an interfaith relationship.
This unique take on a coming-of-age story focuses on a group of black and Latinx teens growing up in South Central Los Angeles where gang violence is just part of the norm. While there's a lot to love about this high-stakes comedy, it's the range of experiences the teens go through that is probably the show's greatest strength, because where else do you get to explore the journey of a teenage boy forced into a gang through family obligation and also a Goonies-esque search for the mythical spoils of an infamous robbery? The show constantly keeps viewers on edge by subverting expectations to find absurdist humor in the least predictable places, but it's On My Block's ability to unexpectedly insert shocking emotional drama that leaves viewers hooked. [Season 3 Review]
Unlike the glossy American teen shows of the early aughts, Skins is radically unfiltered. The British show follows a group of classmates as they deal with sensitive topics like eating disorders, sexuality, drug use, and virginity in an exaggerated but believable fashion. Skins often sparked controversy about the characters' alleged hedonism while it was airing, but the show never shied away from exploring the consequences of the characters' actions. Skins is a fun, witty, outrageous, and wonderfully fresh series, even all these years later. Plus, it gets bonus points for featuring more than a few fun and familiar faces, such as Nicholas Hoult, Joe Dempsie, and Dev Patel.
Everything Sucks! has more heart in its ten 30-minute episodes than many shows display in a syndicated run. Set in a small Oregon town in 1996, Everything Sucks! showcases the unlikely friendships (and romances) blossoming between members of the A/V Club and Drama Club. While the courageous-but-oblivious Luke (Jahi Di'Allo Winston) develops a crush on the quiet Kate (Peyton Kennedy), Kate begins to question her sexuality, developing a crush on the theatrical drama star Emaline (Sydney Sweeney), who in turn is in a co-dependent relationship with the arrogant senior Oliver (Elijah Stevenson). Between the touching queer romance and perfect '90s soundtrack, Everything Sucks! is an uplifting look at the heartbreak and joy of self-discovery in a far less accepting and open era. [Season 1 Review]
If you're more in the mood for post-apocalyptic fare, this CW drama -- about 100 juvenile delinquents who are sent to Earth to see if it's habitable nearly a century after a nuclear war destroyed the planet -- is the perfect choice. Over the series' run, The 100 has evolved quite a bit beyond its initial premise, rebooting itself again and again as our heroes, led by Eliza Taylor's Clarke and Bob Morley's Bellamy, discover new obstacles they must overcome. But the rich world-building and complex character relationships -- plus the show's willingness to ruthlessly kill off even beloved leads -- will keep you itching to know what comes next season after season.
The Fostersalways wore its heart on its sleeve. The Freeform drama focuses on a multi-ethnic, blended family led by mothers Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) that includes one biological child, adopted twins, and two foster children (whom they later adopt). In addition to exploring the realities of the foster system and blended families, the series also tackles several other important issues, such as sexual identity, immigration, sex trafficking, breast cancer, and sexual assault, all with The Fosters' perfect blend of humor, pathos, and hope.
This dark and campy Riverdale spin-off has little in common with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Starring Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina follows the half-witch, half-mortal teen as she struggles to navigate the mortal realm and the world of witchcraft and Satanic worship. The show can be a bit of a hot mess at times, but it's always an enjoyable one, thanks to its willingness to take risks, poke fun, and randomly insert musical numbers. We'd also be remiss not to shout out the incredible ensemble cast, including Gavin Leatherwood, Miranda Otto, Lucy Davis, Tati Gabrielle, Michelle Gomez, and Chance Perdomo. [Season 2 Review | Season 3 Review]
The Societystars Kathryn Newton as Allie, a high schooler who winds up becoming the leader of a new society when she and her classmates are mysteriously transported to a nearly exact replica of their Connecticut town, only their parents, siblings, and everyone else is nowhere to be found. In between trying to solve the mystery of how they got there and how they can get home, the teenagers must figure out how to survive on their own without destroying each other first. If The 100, The Leftovers, and Under the Dome merged into one show, it would be this dystopian drama, which is less interested in the puzzle box mysteries and more in existential questions about good vs. evil and if history really is doomed to repeat itself. [Season 1 Review]
Atypicalhas all the staples of a great teen show -- awkward moments, coming-of-age storylines, and the struggle to find love in the hellscape that is modern high school -- with the added bonus of being told through a lens we rarely get to see on television. The lead character, Sam (Keir Gilchrist), is autistic and the show explores his struggles to make sense of the mixed social cues he's bombarded with at high school with a tender honesty. As Sam experiences all the ups and downs of growing up, including falling in love and leaving for college, the show also puts the spotlight on his younger sister, Casey's (Brigette Lundy-Paine), journey, as she slowly starts to realize she has feelings for her friend Izzie (Fivel Stewart). [Review]
With a sequel series set at HBO Max, there's never been a better excuse to catch up on the show that singlehandedly made headbands the hottest fashion accessory for a brief period of time. The CW drama about the lives of students attending a prestigious Upper East Side high school in Manhattan -- and the ruthless blogger Gossip Girl who documents their every move -- launched the careers of Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, and Chace Crawford. As much of a social satire as a glorification of upper-class extravagance, Gossip Girl was a cultural juggernaut for good reason.
This beloved British sitcom follows the shenanigans of a group of four suburban teenage boys as they learn to survive high school together. The painfully real comedic depiction of naïve male teens -- and the toxic culture they aspire to be a part of -- often results in a severe case of second-hand embarrassment for viewers who were subjected to regular crass, vulgar, and borderline offensive situations. However, this is exactly the point; The Inbetweenersisn't a glorification of a "boys will be boys" culture of sexual conquests and partying, but a look at how absolutely pathetic this notion is and the blustering ignorance and insecurities that feed into it. Although the two movies that follow don't quite capture the magic of the original three-season run, we can just pretend they don't exist. And since Netflix doesn't even have them available to stream, that's easy enough.
The horrors of adolescence are made literal in I Am Not Okay with This, Netflix's adaptation of Charles Forsman's comic of the same name. It's Sophia Lillis stars as Sydney, a high schooler who's struggling to cope with the grief of losing her father to suicide, questions regarding her budding sexuality, and fears of her burgeoning supernatural powers, which she doesn't know how to control. Sydney copes with her trauma by ignoring it -- a strategy whose failings are repeatedly made clear as Sydney's repressed emotions explode into destructive bursts of supernatural energy. While the series embraces the tougher aspects of growing up, it's a surprisingly easy binge and injects enough moments of levity to balance out some of the darker themes. With only seven, 30-minute-episodes and a catchy soundtrack, you'll find yourself speeding though this interesting take on teen angst. [Season 1 Review]
There really aren't enough teen shows being produced right now that even come close to resembling the realities of modern American teen life. If you went solely based on TV shows, you'd think most of today's youths are busy investigating murders, dating vampires, or fighting the literal devil. That's why this grounded CW drama is such a welcome refuge. Inspired by a true story, All American follows rising high school football player Spencer James (Daniel Ezra) as he transfers from Crenshaw to Beverly Hills to play for the elite school's team. Set against the explorations of class issues and family drama, Spencer's journey is as captivating as it is inspiring. [Season 1 Review]
This Spanish murder mystery follows the lives of the students at an exclusive private high school and how their ambitions, desires, and jealousies ultimately lead to a murder of one of their own. Outside of the central mystery, Elite also explores more relatable teen issues, such as the struggles of being gay in a conservative household, how far one might go to fit in, and the pitfalls of social media. It's soapy, over-the-top, and absolutely addicting.
Set in Northern Ireland in the '90s, this charming sitcom focuses on a group of friends growing up in Derry: the passionate Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), her cooky cousin Orla (Louisa Harland), good girl Clare (Nicola Coughlan), rebellious Michelle (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), and Michelle's cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn), the only male student and the only Brit at the Catholic school they all attend. The series' off-kilter and irreverent humor makes Derry Girls an overwhelming delight, but it's the shows tender heart that makes it an absolute must-watch.