Even if you're no longer a teen or a young adult trying to find your way in the world, that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy the awkward, thrilling memories of those times as they play out on screen. Growing up is a universal experience, which is why there's a plethora of films out there depicting the ups and downs of youth. And if you are a teen or someone still coming of age, then at least you have fictional characters to commiserate with.
Netflix has a great selection of young adult films (in addition to a great selection of teen-centric TV shows). From sweet rom-coms to dance movies, the streaming service truly has a YA movie for everyone. Here's what's worthy of your time.
If you're a millennial with an internet connection, at least one of your friends has told you how great Set It Up is. Believe the hype. Glen Powell and Zoey Deutch have effortless chemistry as two overworked assistants who decide to team up to play Cupid for their respective bosses in the hope that a romantic connection will allow them to have lives of their own, outside of work. The banter is quippy and the movie hits all of the desired rom-com traditions without falling into tropes or predictability. It's fun, funny, and smart. Do yourself a favor and enjoy this now.
Sabrina Carpenter stars in this new film as a high school senior hoping to beef up her extracurriculars for college applications by joining her school's award-winning dance team. But there's only one problem: She isn't any good at dancing. Yet. She starts her own team with her best friend (Liza Koshy) and enlists the help of a talented dancer (Jordan Fisher) to teach her how to, you know, work it. Will they be good enough to win the dance competition? Guess you'll have to watch to find out.
With a premise similar to Cyrano de Bergerac, Netflix's The Half of It is a delightful and modern coming-of-age film with a queer twist. Written and directed by Alice Wu, the film stars Leah Lewis as Ellie, a Chinese American teen who is approached by a classmate, Paul (Daniel Diemer), to pose as him and send love letters to his crush, Aster (Alexxis Lemire). Unbeknownst to Paul, Ellie also has a secret crush on Aster... and you can probably see how things quickly end up a bit messy. Luckily, the film is anything but.
Heads up: Stock up on tissues before you watch this one. Alex Strangelove stars relative new comer Daniel Doheny as the adorable Alex Truelove, who only wants to find his person but is struggling inside the dark closet of his sexuality. It's the Netflix version of Love, Simon and is equally compelling, heartbreaking and good for the soul.
Mandy Moore stars in this romantic teen film as Jamie Sullivan, a teenager with leukemia who agrees to help the school's bad boy, Landon Carter (Shane West), with his part in the school play as long as he promises not to fall in love with her. You can probably guess what happens next, and you are guaranteed to cry.
Descendants alum Sofia Carson leads this charming dance drama about April, an aspiring Broadway dancer who must rely on the talent at her small hometown dance studio to give her a second chance at greatness after a disastrous run-in with one of the most powerful casting producers in all of New York. The humbling trip back home forces April to reassess what is really important to her as the young, clumsy-but-loyal dancers teach her what made her fall in love with the art in the first place.
The To All the Boys trilogy, based on Jenny Han's endearing young adult novels, brought the high school romance comedy back in a huge way. Lana Condor stars as Lara Jean, a high school junior who falls into her first real relationship after the letters she wrote to her five previous crushes are sent out. It captures all the awkward pitfalls of high school romance with just enough surrealism to make this a fantastic escape movie. When you've finished the first movie, you can move right on to the sequels, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, which puts Lara Jean in a heart-twisting love triangle, and Always and Forever, which finds her thinking seriously about her life post-high school.
Spike Lee produced this sci-fi YA adventure about two young geniuses on the brink of solving time travel. But when tragedy strikes, they only have a limited amount of time to set things right. Don't miss an incredible cameo by Michael J. Fox, who pays homage to Back to the Future.
Step Sisters could have easily been a Bring It On rip-off, but the college-centered romp about Jamilah (Megalyn Echikunwoke), a down and out Black sorority sister forced to teach a group of uncoordinated white girls how to step in order to get a recommendation to Harvard Law School, is actually a self-aware, empowering good time. The movie has all of the great performance sequences of classics like the aforementioned Bring It On and Step Up, but also tackles issues like nepotism and cultural appropriation with grace and honesty.
Stop searching, start watching! TV Guide's Watch This Now! page has even more TV recommendations.