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7 Shows Like Netflix's Heartbreak High

These shows capture the teenage experience in all its awkward glory

Maggie Fremont
Chloe Hayden, James Majoos, and Ayesha Madon, Heartbreak High

Chloe Hayden, James Majoos, and Ayesha Madon, Heartbreak High

Lisa Tomasetti/Netflix

Heartbreak High is a tough show to pin down. The Australian dramedy, which just released its second season on Netflix, tackles some heavy and important subject matter — from sexual assault to mental health issues, from questioning your sexual identity to navigating those complicated but deep teenage friendships, Heartbreak High isn't afraid to explore real life topics that teenagers face. But thankfully, the series is also keenly aware of some other truths about high school students: They love to have a good time and they can be awkward as hell. Remembering such truths makes the series self-aware and genuinely funny in an endlessly charming way. The good news is that Heartbreak High, rebooted by Hannah Carroll Chapman after the original ran for seven seasons in the '90s, maneuvers through those seemingly disparate tones effortlessly. 

Season 1 focused on the sudden rift between two previously inseparable best friends, Amerie (Ayesha Madon) and Harper (Asher Yasbincek), and the fallout from the discovery of a chart they drew mapping out the sexual exploits of their classmates. The second season sees Amerie attempting to rehab her soured image. While Amerie is our main protagonist, the show's biggest strength is its wealth of compelling characters (and capable cast), all with their own worlds to explore; after two seasons, it feels like Heartbreak High has merely scratched the surface as to the stories it can tell with the kids at Hartley. 

If you've already worked your way through Heartbreak High and you're on the hunt for more shows that balance the heartbreaking with the laugh-out-loud funny, or shows that truly respect the breadth of the teenage experience, we've got you covered. Below, find seven shows that you'll love just as much as Heartbreak High.

Watch Heartbreak High Stream on Netflix

More recommendations:

Never Have I Ever

Ramona Young, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, and Lee Rodriguez, Never Have I Ever

Ramona Young, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, and Lee Rodriguez, Never Have I Ever


While Heartbreak High is firmly planted in the dramedy zone and Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher's Never Have I Ever is unmistakably a comedy, there is a ton of overlap between the two series, and a lot of that is thanks to their main characters. At one point during Heartbreak High, Amerie is compared to the goddess of disaster; she is a tornado of drama, and the entire school knows it. This exact description could also be used for NHIE's Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), who, when we first meet her, is a sophomore having trouble confronting her grief over her father's sudden death. While Devi's brand of disaster is more rage-filled, both she and Amerie tend to be their own worst enemy, both are unabashedly themselves, and both are horny as hell. They would be instant friends. There are other similarities between the two series here — the love triangles, the vivid production design, the effort to tell diverse teen stories — but I found myself thinking about Never Have I Ever while watching Heartbreak High most when it came to the central friendship. Season 1 of the Australian series is all about Amerie and Harper finding their way back to each other, because in the end, a strong friendship is better than any love story. Over the course of four seasons, Never Have I Ever never forgot that, either. While Devi's never-ending love triangle with Paxton (Darren Barnet) and Ben (Jaren Lewison) was a delight, Devi navigating the ups and downs of friendships with her besties Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) and Eleanor (Ramona Young) was a necessary, and moving, foundational element to the series.

The Sex Lives of College Girls

Amrit Kaur, Pauline Chalamet, Alyah Chanelle Scott, and Reneé Rapp, The Sex Lives of College Girls

Amrit Kaur, Pauline Chalamet, Alyah Chanelle Scott, and Reneé Rapp, The Sex Lives of College Girls


This is another series that skews more comedy than anything, but like Heartbreak High, it's not afraid to tackle some serious subject matter. The Sex Lives of College Girls (another Mindy Kaling project, this time with collaborator Justin Noble), about four freshmen roommates at a prestigious Ivy-like school, dives into the good, the bad, and the awkward of sex in college, but it also hits on other complicated topics, like racism in higher ed, financial issues and socioeconomic differences, and internalized homophobia. Mostly, though, it's a good time full of compelling performances. The series, which airs a brisk six episodes per season, is sometimes light on sturdy plot, but it's worth the watch for the chemistry between its four leads: Amrit Kaur as Bela, a horny wannabe comedy writer; Pauline Chalamet as sheltered Kimberly, attending Essex on financial aid; Alyah Chanelle Scott as Whitney, a soccer star and senator's daughter; and Reneé Rapp as legacy student Leighton, who comes out to her roommates over the course of the first season. Rapp is set to exit the series in Season 3, so it'll be interesting to see how that affects the show's equilibrium.


Joe Locke and Kit Connor, Heartstopper

Joe Locke and Kit Connor, Heartstopper

Teddy Cavendish/Netflix

Heartstopper feels like the sometimes prickly Heartbreak High's warmer, fuzzier, younger cousin. It's not that the Netflix teen romance, based on Alice Oseman's graphic novels, doesn't tackle heavy subject matter — it deftly touches on everything from homophobia and bullying to eating disorders and depression — but it's quite clear from the get-go that Heartstopper's M.O. is to tell queer teen stories that bend toward joy. This is most obvious in the main arc of the series: The budding romance between bullied outcast Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and popular athlete Nick Nelson (Kit Connor) is full of butterflies (sometimes literally, through the little cartoons that pop up to help express emotions) and first kisses and all the heartwarming moments you hope for in a story about first love. Even Nick's coming out scene to his mother (played by the always wonderful Olivia Colman) in Season 1 is nothing but warmth and loveliness. As the series progresses, so too does the maturity of the characters and storylines, but you already know it's always going to be a series that makes you cry tears of both the sad and happy variety.

Sex Education

Ncuti Gatwa and Asa Butterfield, Sex Education

Ncuti Gatwa and Asa Butterfield, Sex Education

Samuel Taylor/Netflix

The first season of Heartbreak High kicks off with the discovery of Amerie and Harper's "Hartley High Incest Map," detailing all of the hookups of their classmates. The info on that map is so alarming to those in charge that many of the students are ordered to take a Sexual Literacy Tutorial the kids call "SLUTS," which starts as a joke but eventually becomes a term of endearment. (You should hear what they call the rival sex-ed class in Season 2!) And if "SLUTS" tickles you, you should give Sex Education a whirl. This British dramedy, which recently wrapped its four-season run, also puts sex positivity at the forefront of its storytelling. The series follows awkward teen Otis (Asa Butterfield), whose existence, he feels, is only made more awkward by the fact that his mother is a well-known sex therapist, played by a constantly scene-stealing Gillian Anderson. Otis winds up using these credentials to his advantage, though, by opening a secret sex therapy clinic of his own for his fellow students. Here, you'll also find lots of fun performances from familiar faces like Ncuti Gatwa as Otis' best friend, Eric, and Emma Mackey as Maeve, Otis' main love interest.

My Mad Fat Diary

My Mad Fat Diary

My Mad Fat Diary


For another series that deals with tough teen issues with some humor and self-awareness, you'll want to revisit this British dramedy that ran for three short seasons between 2013 and 2015. My Mad Fat Diary, based on Rae Earl's novel My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary, is set in the 1990s and kicks off with Rae (Sharon Rooney) returning home after a four-month-long stint in a psychiatric hospital, which none of her friends know about. The show deftly handles Rae's mental health and self-esteem issues as she attempts to reacclimate to her life, while never making that her only personality trait. Much of that is thanks to a compelling lead performance from Rooney, as well as the young supporting cast, which includes a pre-Killing Eve Jodie Comer as Rae's best friend, Chloe.

Everything's Gonna Be Okay

Kayla Cromer, Maeve Press, and Josh Thomas, Everything's Gonna Be Okay

Kayla Cromer, Maeve Press, and Josh Thomas, Everything's Gonna Be Okay

Tony Rivetti/Freeform

If you're looking for a series that tackles some of the same themes and issues as Heartbreak High but desperate for a break from the high school focus (the youths can be wearing, I get it!), try Everything's Gonna Be Okay. This dramedy, created by and starring Australian comedian Josh Thomas (Please Like Me), ran on Freeform for only two seasons and will instantly endear itself to you. It's sweeter than Heartbreak High but never overly earnest or afraid to go dark. Thomas plays Nicholas Moss, a neurotic twentysomething who is unexpectedly left as the guardian of his two teenage half-sisters, Matilda (Kayla Cromer) and Genevieve (Maeve Press), when their father (Christopher May) dies. Not only do the Moss siblings have to navigate this complicated new family unit but also their individual grief. The series, like Heartbreak High, also gives a special spotlight to stories featuring autistic characters that are some of the show's most compelling moments. Though there are certainly moments that'll make you cry, there are even more that will leave you laughing out loud. It's such a fun, interesting twist on the family comedy — two seasons were nowhere near enough.

Heartbreak High (1994 - 1999)

Alex Dimitriades and Abi Tucker, Heartbreak High

Alex Dimitriades and Abi Tucker, Heartbreak High

Network Ten

Should you fancy yourself a completist, the original Heartbreak High, which ran for 7 seasons in the '90s, is available on Netflix for your viewing pleasure. The series, which was adapted from the 1993 film The Heartbreak Kid (and this was based on a play), arrived after Beverly Hills, 90210 hit it big in the U.S., and it does feel like Australia's grittier, more diverse (both racially and socio-economically speaking) answer to that. Still, there's a similar overall vibe, if Beverly Hills, 90210 is your reference point here. Like the series today, the original Heartbreak High touched on a lot of racial and class tensions in Australia. And hey, you'll run into a familiar face: Scott Major, who plays Darren's father, Peter Rivers, played that character as a high school student in the original Heartbreak High. Rivers, as he was called back then, was a main character in the first three seasons and was wildly racist and homophobic, and grew into a changed person by the end of his run — a story Peter shamefully confesses to Darren in the reboot.