The 35 Best Teen TV Shows on Netflix

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The 35 Best Teen TV Shows on Netflix

Teenagers. Who are they? Where did they come from? What do they want? Netflix, in some part, seems to know. The streaming giant has a plethora of great teen-oriented series that adults can also enjoy. And while some classic titles are no longer available on the platform, there are plenty of charming newcomers like Derry Girls, All American, On My Block, and … the rest of our highly curated list below!

But for now, there’s still more than enough on the streaming service to fill your syllabus—not to mention your entire extracurricular schedule. The TV series listed here range widely, from animation and family dramedy to science fiction and fantasy. Yet what they share, whatever their genre, tone, or time period, is the conviction that teens have stories worth telling. We wholeheartedly agree.

Here are the best teen TV shows on Netflix—ranked:

Honorable Mention: Everything Sucks, That 70s Show, Liv & Maddie, Trinkets, Degrassi: Next Class, Voltron: Legendary Defender, October Faction


35. Scream: The TV Series

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Created by: Jill Blotevogel, Dan Dworkin, Jay Beattie, Brett Matthews
Stars: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Amadeus Serafini, Connor Weil, Carlson Young, Jason Wiles, Tyga, Tyler Posey, Keke Palmer
Original Network: MTV

Watch on Netflix

It’s kind of incredible to realize that MTV’s Scream lasted a full three seasons, considering how wholly and joyously it dove into its slasher flick murder spree—I mean, that there were enough characters left to sustain a second season, let alone a third?? Incredible. Also incredible, the fact that it spawned this killer party promo spot, right at the tail-end of MTV’s Golden Age of scripted series, before being temporarily lost to the floodwaters of today’s streaming wars. Super pulpy and a little too enamored of Serial’s whole deal to be taken seriously this many years later, this is one of those shows that’s really only for a very specific type of viewer. If both slasher flicks and MTV’s late 2010s vibe are your scene, though, Scream: The TV Series balances both out with enough genuine pathos and humor—plus an excellent ensemble cast who you really will stress over being under constant mortal threat—that a binge is likely to be worth it. —Alexis Gunderson


34. Moesha

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Created by: Ralph Farquhar, Sara V. Finney, Vida Spears
Stars: Brandy Norwood, William Allen Young, Countess Vaughn, Marcus T. Paulk, Lamont Bentley, Yvette Wilson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Shar Jackson, Fredro Starr, Ray J
Original Network: UPN

Watch on Netflix

Another 90s institution, Brandy’s Moesha it Netflix at the same time as Sister, Sister did, and will provide a similarly solid dose of Millennial nostalgia, though perhaps for a smaller cohort. (UPN’s niche network profile aside, that TGIF boost was big business, especially for Black-led series.) The series follows the domestic and high school melodramas of Moesha Mitchell (Brandy), an upper-middle class L.A. teen struggling to adjust to life with a new stepmom, after years of playing Mitchell-family-matriarch following her own mom’s death. Moesha was always slightly more inclined to dip into more mature topics (whether in Very Special Episode format or not) than the teen-centric sitcoms it shared the dial with in the late 90s, which gives it a kind of plainspoken energy that’s especially compelling in retrospect. That plainspokenness hasn’t all aged well—early episodes, especially, have an awful ease using anti-fat and anti-Asian comments as throwaway “jokes”—but enough of it holds up that Moesha is still an important (and fun!) artifact of 90s Teen TV. —Alexis Gunderson


33. Ashley Garcia: Genius in Love

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Created by: Seth Kurland and Mario Lopez
Stars: Paulina Chávez, Jencarlos Canela, Conor Husting, Bella Podaras, Reed Horstmann, Mario Lopez
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Even in a sitcom landscape as tonally surreal as the one Netflix has managed to cultivate, Ashley Garcia: Genius in Love was never quite allowed to reach its full potential, which is an absolute shame. The show focuses on teen astrophysicist Ashley Garcia (Paulina Chávez) as she moves in with her uncle Victor (Jencarlos Canela) to take a job, reconnect with her childhood best friend, and learn how to be a normal teenage girl—hanging out at coffee shops, dating football players, helping her social influencer friends wrangle their Instagram accounts. The Mario Lopez-produced series also features a charming cast with impressively tight sitcom chops, whose chemistry never fails to beam straight through the screen.

Where that chemistry might have taken them, we’ll never know, as Ashley Garcia was never really afforded the chance to find out. Its protagonist was never given a reason to ever step foot in a high school, and her workplace never really given enough space to become the lady-led Big Bang Theory knockoff it wanted to be. It even saw an entire rebranded from the optimistically open-sounding The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia to the much less flattering Ashley Garcia: Genius in Love midway through its single season run.

But please don’t let this deter you from watching; seeing the kind of friendship Ashley builds with her normal teen friends (Conor Husting, Bella Podaras and Reed Horstmann) *despite* not having the typical high school environment to force them together is a delight, as is seeing the kind of warm bond that she develops with her tío Victor in their non-traditional domestic set-up. It’s a bummer more won’t be coming down the road, but for a short, easy binge, Dr. Ashley Garcia is your gal. —Alexis Gunderson


32. Outer Banks

Created by: Josh Pate, Jonas Pate, Shannon Burke
Stars: Chase Stokes, Madelyn Cline, Madison Bailey, Jonathan Daviss, Rudy Pankow, Austin North
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

No one actually says “Welcome to the OBX, bitch!” but the sentiment is definitely there in Netflix’s teen dream of a TV series. Created by Josh Pate, Jonas Pate, and Shannon Burke, Outer Banks explores the lives of the rich kids (called Kooks) and poor kids (Pogues) along North Carolina’s marshy coastal islands. Adults are scarce, school is out, shirts are practically sacrilege; it’s a high schooler’s fantasy.

Though the first episode establishes what seems like a very paint-by-numbers teen drama whose players are almost indistinguishably attractive, the series’ dynamic ultimately feels classic rather than rote. It’s a throwback, in some ways; the kids drink and hookup a little, but mostly the story revolves around the search for gold lost in an ancient shipwreck. There’s a mystery, young love, missing parents, and lots of general rabble-rousing.

Outer Banks isn’t exactly wholesome, but there is something about its sun-soaked adventure that feels emotionally authentic to the teen experience. For a show whose first episode starts off with the Pogues all crashing at a parentless pad and nothing less dramatic than a hurricane, it’s surprisingly grounded—so much so that some may find it a little bland. But as it threads together the island’s various social orders in ways that continues to amp up the drama, the twists (emotional and plot-driven) manage to be both familiar and surprising—despite an overwrought denouement that threatens to overshadow its better parts. Outer Banks isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is, and that’s a respectable position to take. Welcome to the OBX, viewer. —Allison Keene


31. Black Lightning

Created by: Salim Akil
Stars: Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III, Damon Gupton, James Remar
Original Network: The CW

Watch on Netflix

Greg Berlanti’s Arrowverse (just recently valorized by a $400 million cash contract made to keep the universe-runner around until 2024) has been an undeniable success for The CW—and for the DC universe on screen. But it has not, historically, had a great deal to say about the deeply rooted prejudices of the real world that have conspired to create the violence and terror that shape places like the Glades in Green Arrow’s Star City, or that are mirrored in the bigotry metahumans face by “normal” society. Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil’s addition to the fold, Black Lightning, takes that challenge head on, positioning endemic racism and systemic inequity as the central evils a real superhero would find himself (or, in the case of Nafessa Williams’ Thunder, herself) up against. It then uses those injustices, and the tensions they cause within not just communities but individual families (Black Lightning, as played by Cress Williams, is father to two superpowered daughters), to tell a compelling, heady story about what it means to do what is right in a world that resembles our own more than any superhero story to date. (Although Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger may give the show a run for its money). Plus, its soundtrack? Double platinum. —Alexis Gunderson


30. Julie and the Phantoms

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Created by: Dan Cross, David Hoge
Stars: Madison Reyes, Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner, Jeremy Shada
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Between the sparkling charm exuded by newcomer Madison Reyes, the ‘90s pop-punk bro-ness of the Phantom boys backing her up, and the Descendants / High School Musical / Hocus Pocus bona fides of marquee EP/choreographer Kenny Ortega, Netflix’s half-hour musical series Julie and the Phantoms (based on the 2011 Brazilian series Julie e os Fantasmas) was always destined to be the next big family-friendly thing. Add in a pair of showrunners with decades of Nickelodeon experience, a bevy of stadium-ready pop performances, and Descendants’s own Booboo Stewart as an adorable skatebro ghost boyfriend (that Disney’s never quite gotten around to giving any of its cute and emotionally available rocker dudes), and you’ve got legit tween catnip on your hands. (That said, we, uh, definitely recommend battening down the aural hatches in preparation for the series’ fortune of future Radio Disney earworms being played and/or sung, for months on a loop. They’re all great songs! But, you know, so is Let It Go. Make of that what you will.) —Alexis Gunderson


29. Atypical

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Created by: Robia Rashid
Stars: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Keir Gilchrist, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Amy Okuda, Michael Rapaport
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Netflix’s quiet, thoughtful comedy exists without the hype that surrounds many of the streaming giant’s shows. And that’s OK. The story of Sam (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old with autism, and his family speaks for itself. In the second seasno, the comedy hilariously follows Sam as he searches for a new therapist (he swears one was actually a rabbit because she eats so many carrots) while also dealing with his family falling apart—which Sam’s dad, Doug (Michael Rapaport), and his mom, Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) tries to hide from Sam. But, of course, things like this don’t stay secret for long. As Sam’s sister Casey, Brigette Lundy-Paine turns in one of TV’s most underrated performances. Yes, this family is unique, but all families are—and the series deftly captures both the comedic moments and the heartbreaking ones. Atypical remains a show more people show be watching. —Amy Amatangelo


28. The Society

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Created by: Christopher Keyser
Stars: Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon, Sean Berdy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jacques Colimon, Olivia DeJonge
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

I’ve watched a lot of television series where nuanced self-possession has sharpened my understanding of what it means to be human, but I genuinely can’t remember the last time I came out on the other side of a binge seeing the base tenuousness of the society we’ve made for ourselves with such terrifying new clarity. The Society, Netflix’s new high-tech, aged-up take on Lord of the Flies, manages the trick with a simple bus ride. Although teen television has been peddling in intensely dark moral allegories for decades now, it is difficult to articulate just how existentially devastating The Society gets, or how quickly.

The Societygives its modern, engaged audience a co-ed spread of hormonal high schoolers, left behind by a fleet of school buses that (returning from an aborted end-of-year camping trip) drop them off in the middle of the night in an empty, uncanny double of their idyllic New England hometown. They discover the next day that not only are all satellite and internet connections to the outer world gone, but that all roads out of town end abruptly in impenetrable forest. The Societyisn’t remotely interested in spending a lot of time on the whys or wheres of the teens’ new reality. The only thing it cares about is sinking into the psychological nightmare of a bunch of underprepared kids realizing not only that they’re all alone in the universe, but that it’s on them to make up and enforce all the boring, hard rules required to sustain a civilized society.—Alexis Gunderson


27. Big Mouth

Created by: Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin
Stars:Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Maya Rudolph
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Netflix’s animated series, from creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, follows four friends through the earliest stages of puberty: Andrew (John Mulaney) sports inconvenient erections; Nick (Kroll) awaits his first pubic hairs; Jessi (Jessi Klein) begins menstruating at the Statue of Liberty; Jay (Jason Mantzoukas) conceives rococo ways to get off with his pillow. It’s wickedly bawdy—one episode’s end credits roll over an extended description of Andrew’s dad’s testicles—and devilishly funny—another uses a note-perfect Seinfeld send-up to explain the blowjob “head push” and the term “mons pubis”—but as implied by its theme song, Charles Bradley’s “Changes,” the series is sweeter than it appears. Its goal is to cut through the humiliations of sex, to break through the shame shellacked atop our “gross little dirtbag” selves to reveal the perfectly normal yearning underneath: for pleasure, for touch, for emotional connection; for approval, confidence, intimacy, love. By admitting, as Andrew does in the series premiere, that “everything is so embarrassing”—and not only for teens—Big Mouth squares a space in which there’s no question that can’t be asked, and no answer that applies the same way to everyone. It’s the streaming version of your sex-ed teacher’s anonymous slips of paper, except the laughs aren’t sniggers—they’re hard-won, empathic guffaws. —Matt Brennan


26.The End of the F—ing World

Created by: Charlie Covell, Jonathan Entwistle, Lucy Tcherniak
Stars: Alex Lawther, Jessica Barden, Gemma Whelan, Wunmi Mosaku, Steve Oram, Christine Bottomley, Navin Chowdhry, Barry Ward
Original Network: Channel 4/Netflix

Watch on Netflix

James (Alex Lawther) is 17 and kills enough small animals that he truly believes he’s a psychopath. Alyssa (Jessica Barden) is 17 and kills nothin—not that her words lack for trying. Both are unbelievably good at being at the wrong intensity levels for normal human interaction: Barden goes loud and acerbic, while Lawther shuts down so completely it’s hard to tell if he was born or simply emerged from the Britain’s collective post-punk sigh, like a Promethean clay figure stirring from Athena’s breath. But The End of the F—ing World doesn’t want your morbid fascination. Or, unlike almost every other show with similar subject matter, it doesn’t want it to stay morbid. A show about a boy bent on killing his road trip partner as the two high schoolers run away from home sounds more like the grisly true-crime TV we’ve been groomed to enjoy since news channels realized fear, violence and tragedy attracted eyeballs. Yet the The End of the F—ing World gives the middle finger to this Nightcrawler-esque worldview, finding hope in a world of psychopaths, within the context of a TV landscape that loves them. —Jacob Oller


25. Daybreak

Created by: Brad Peyton, Aron Eli Coleite
Stars:: Colin Ford, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Sophie Simnett, Austin Crute, Cody Kearsley, Jeanté Godlock, Gregory Kasyan, Krysta Rodriguez, Matthew Broderick
Original Network:: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Watching Netflix’s new teen post-apocalypse comedy Daybreak, which stars Supernatural’s Colin Ford as a C-student skating his way through a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested Glendale, CA, is like shrugging on a colored-glass suit of ronin samurai armor that someone—possibly Ferris Bueller himself the most basic of teen movie magic to fashion, from the kaleidoscope of Twain’s old saw, that there’s no such thing as a new idea, just new ways of putting the same old shiny pieces together.

Look: If what you want out of your next teen/Apocalypse binge are new ideas, Daybreak isn’t going to do the trick. Josh Wheeler (Ford) isn’t a surprising choice for reluctant teen hero. Sam (Simnett) is not a surprising choice for damsel in (possible) distress. Ex-jock Wesley Fists (Crute) and Anjelica the preteen nightmare (Lind) aren’t surprising choices for ragtag heroic sidekicks. (See again: Last month’s The Last Kids on Earth adaptation.) Bloodthirsty jock vikings, homesteading 4-Hers, viciously misandrist Cheermazons and an über-woke principal this close to completely cracking: none are clever Apocalyptic takes on classic high school chestnuts.

That said, for all that Daybreak wears its dozens upon dozens of teen/genre movie tropes on its Mad Max: Fury Road sleeves, it’s still super watchable. More than that, once the first episode (“Josh vs. the Apocalypse, Pt. 1”) dispenses with both the most necessary pre- and post-apocalyptic exposition and the most blatant John Hughes clichés—yes, Josh’s biology teacher does drone “Wheeler?… Wheeler?… Wheeler???” as he turns to break through the wall while she’s calling attendance; no, thank YOU for asking—it does what any self-aware kaleidoscope of old ideas should do and uses its gross of references to subvert some key expectations in compelling ways. —Alexis Gunderson


24. No Good Nick

Created by: David H. Steinberg, Keetgi Kogan
Stars:: Siena Agudong, Lauren Lindsey Donzis, Kalama Epstein, Sean Astin, Melissa Joan Hart
Original Network:: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

I… love?? No Good Nick?? I mean, don’t get me wrong, nothing about it should make sense. Sitcoms do not work this way, none of its weirdly random pieces—a live studio audience! A corrupt foster care system! Wacky sitcom family shenanigans! Serialized storytelling! Mob violence!—should fit together at all, let alone combine to make something coherent. But while Part One of Netflix’s bizarre-meets-bleak con artist family sitcom managed to overcome every odd to end up “a ripping low-stakes binge,” the recently released Part Two goes way beyond that. And Part Two is great.

Once you get past the (very real) disorientation of watching a young teen girl be existentially misused by every adult in her life while a live studio audience laughs at the tropey sitcom shenanigans she gets up to to pay off the mob, it turns out that No Good Nick is, in fact, excellent. It’s maybe not Russian Doll excellent, but also, on a weird level, it’s not… not? I know, I know. But truly!

So turn on Netflix and queue up the next installment of Teen Girl Con Artist Covers Dad’s Mob Debts While Taking Revenge on Melissa Joan Hart and Sean Astin to see for yourself just how smoothly this show pulls off each of its increasingly ridiculous tricks.—Alexis Gunderson


23. Teenage Bounty Hunters

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Created by: Kathleen Jordan
Stars: Maddie Phillips, Anjelica Bette Fellini, Kadeem Hardison, Virginia Williams
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

It’s a real bummer to put any series on this list that was canceled before its time, but so long as Netflix is going to wield its axe indiscriminately enough that it catches series as critically and popularly beloved as Teenage Bounty Hunters—Kathleen Jordan’s darkly comic vision of hormonal teen girls testing the boundaries of their sheltered white lives by taking up a shadow life as, well, teenage bounty hunters—that’s the reality we’re stuck with. So take this entry in the spirit it’s written, as both warning and recommendation: You will develop an immediate crush on badass telepathic Christian School twins Sterling (Maddie Philips) and Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini) and their equally badass gruff grandpa-mentor Bowser (Kadeem Harrison), and then when you hit the whiplash end-that-shouldn’t-have-been-the-end of their bounty hunting/twin legacy story, that crush will, in turn, crush you right back. So, you know, have fun!! —Alexis Gunderson


22. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

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Created by: Noelle Stevenson
Stars:: Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, AJ Michalka, Marcus Scribner, Reshma Shetty, Lorraine Toussaint
Original Network:: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

If you, like me, are coming to She-Ra and the Princesses of Power for the first time—and you should; the magical mermaid princess water is lovely here—then whatever number of robots you’re expecting to see, be ready for double that. Possibly triple. Really, considering the nature of technology on/in Etheria, it’s probably best not to set any bar for how many robots might eventually cross your screen. Let the magic be in the discovery.

If you have even a passing familiarity with Netflix and Dreamworks’ thoroughly of-our-time reimagining of the legacy Masters of the Universe property, you might have been expecting me to lead with any number of other facts. Like say the fact that, led by the creative sensibilities of Noelle Stevenson, the graphic novelist behind Nimona and Lumberjanes, the series places both monster girls and the tender tenacity of friendship dead center. Or the fact that, also under Stevenson’s watch, the majority of the show’s creative staff and cast are female. Or the fact that—again, with Stevenson’s deliberate blessing—the new She-Ra is super, super queer.

For a kids’ show, this is a lot. But there is something so chillingly familiar in it, especially at this moment in history, that it’s impossible not to be impressed—and just as impossible not to hope that the tools Adora, Glimmer, Bow and the rest of their friends fight back with as the series continues will be ones we can use in our own lives, back here in the real world. —Alexis Gunderson


21. Sister, Sister

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Created by: Kim Bass, Gary Gilbert, Fred Shafferman
Stars: Tia Mowry, Tamera Mowry, Jackée Harry, Tim Reid, Marques Houston, RonReaco Lee, Deon Richmond
Original Network: ABC/The WB

Watch on Netflix

Originally developed as part of ABC’s TGIF line-up before moving to the WB in its third season, Sister, Sister is the quintessential 90s sitcom. The bucket hats. The layers upon layers of neon prints. The $350 rent. For so many Millennials, Tia and Tamera are an institution, but you might not realize just how deeply their small-screen personas embedded themselves in your consciousness until you turn on the pilot one late night and then blink and find yourself many hours and half a dozen episodes deep in an unintentional, joyful binge. (And in case the pure nostalgia isn’t enough of a draw for you, try this: the first half of Season 1 features a very young, very bubbly Brittany Murphy as one of the twins’ suburban middle school friends. A genuine delight, all around!) —Alexis Gunderson


20. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Created by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Stars: Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Davis, Miranda Otto, Chance Perdomo, Ross Lynch, Bronson Pinchot, Gavin Leatherwood
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

The Archie-adjacent teenage witch has had a bumpy two seasons (two-part first season?) so far, but they are still enough to scratch a very specific horror itch for fans of demonic magical metaphor. The show’s attempts at feminism veer from the brutally satisfying to the lip-service-only frustrating, but weaving that driving principle throughout the show’s coming-of-age plots and the underground magical societies within which they take place only binds the show closer into a more cohesive, if imperfect, entity. Shipka, taking all that she earned from Mad Men, dominates the screen while snipping and snapping with each potent line delivery. A plethora of romantic angles supplement the show with its more Riverdale-like elements, but at its heart, Sabrina is a horror show that only looks to get darker as its reign continues. —Jacob Oller


19. The 100

Created by: Jason Rothenberg
Stars: Eliza Taylor, Eli Goree, Thomas McDonell
Original Network: The CW

Watch on Netflix

This post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama is set 97 years after a nuclear war wiped out almost all life on Earth. Survivors are living in a space station orbiting the Earth, hoping to one day return to their home. As resources on the ship become scarce and oxygen levels enter critical condition, the leadership decides to send 100 juvenile prisoners to Earth to see if the land is inhabitable. The “Lord of the Flies”-esque drama series follows these teens as they uncover surprises of what is left of mother earth. If you’re a thrill-lover, The 100 will keep you pressing “next episode.” —Jane Snyder


18. American Vandal

Created by: Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault
Stars: Tyler Alvarez, Griffin Gluck, Jimmy Tatro
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

American Vandal is the tongue-in-cheek antidote to the “true crime” craze: a “prestige docuseries” on the subject of dick-drawing, set on dismantling the form from within. After all, its understanding of the form is impeccable: With dramatic cold opens, floated theories and test cases; interviews, illustrations and re-creations; careful cliffhangers and a Jinx-style hot mic, it applies the genre’s commonplaces to absurd situations with aplomb. It’s a pungently goofy reminder that the history of “true crime” is dominated by “lowbrow” media—pulpy magazines, grocery-store paperbacks, salacious installments of Dateline or 20/20—and that its newfound sense of “prestige” is primarily a function of style. Still, American Vandal’s most surprising strength is not its satire but its steady construction of a narrative backdrop even more compelling than its creators realize. Call it Fast Times at Hanover High: The series’ amusing slice of schoolyard life. —Matt Brennan


17. Dawson’s Creek

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Created by: Kevin Williamson
Stars: James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson, Mary-Margaret Humes
Original Network: The WB

Watch on Netflix

From the moment in the pilot when Pacey (Joshua Jackson) told his teacher “I’m the best sex you’ll never have,” we knew Dawson’s Creek would be different. Originally centered on four teens—Dawson (James Van der Beek), Pacey, Joey (Katie Holmes), Jen (Michelle Williams) and Pacey—the series took young love triangles to a whole new level. These eloquent teens probably didn’t talk like any adolescents you knew, but the angst they brought to their everyday lives was palpably relatable. The show was groundbreaking. Season 2 introduced Jack (Kerr Smith), the first gay teen who was a series regular, as opposed to just a guest on a very special episode. The show became even more groundbreaking when Jack and his boyfriend shared an onscreen kiss at the end of Season 3. (Credit creator Kevin Williamson and executive producer Greg Berlanti for handling Jack’s storyline so authentically.) To this day, talk of Team Dawson or Team Pacey will elicit passionate, well-considered responses. As for me, I’m #TeamPacey forever. He remains the best sex … I never had. —Amy Amatangelo


16. Cobra Kai

Created by: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Stars: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni Decenzo, Martin Kove
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

With a slew of award nominations and great social buzz, you don’t need us to tell you that Cobra Kai is more than worth your time. Still: Cobra Kai is more than worth your time. Bringing William Zabka and Ralph Macchio back to reignite their ’80s-era Karate Kid rivalry just as the various tender/hurting teens in their lives are finding themselves in desperate need of mentorship from an ass-kicking sensei or two, Cobra Kai is a feast of brutal sentimentality, awkward puppy love, and heartbreakingly scruffy nostalgia—and, of course, killer karate set pieces. As noted in our review of the first season, “[Cobra Kai] excels at not allowing anyone to be truly evil or angelic, understanding that human beings are complex and cannot be summed up by a one-line character description.”

Part of what makes the show so special is its charming mix of the ridiculous with the more sublime. The series is a study in contradictions. A tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek self-awareness is also the show’s secret weapon. Easter eggs and less-than-subtle shout outs to the movies are peppered throughout the season, even as Cobra Kai, at its heart, knows that it is ridiculous that two grown men are still jostling back and forth over a karate tournament that happened 36 years ago. Still, what really makes the show work is Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence. He’s a walking homage to that era, driving a beat-up Dodge caravan, listening to metal music on his cassette tape player, and eschewing modern technology. All in all, Cobra Kai , which thankfully has already been picked up for a fourth season, remains a pure, escapist delight. — Amy Amatangelo and Alexis Gunderson


15. Gilmore Girls

Created by: Amy Sherman-Palladino
Stars: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Melissa McCarthy, Keiko Agena, Yanic Truesdale, Scott Patterson, Kelly Bishop, Edward Herrmann, Liza Weil, Jared Padalecki, Milo Ventimiglia, Sean Gunn, David Sutcliffe, Chris Eigeman, Matt Czuchry
Original Networks: The WB, The CW, Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Our fearless TV editor at the time, Matt Brennan, embarked on a journey. Having never seen Gilmore Girls before, he watched all 154 episodes of the original plus the four new installments of A Year in the Life. (You can read his hilarious stream-of-consciousness here). And I have to admit I was jealous. For me, the original show is now a distant and beloved memory. Oh, the joy of discovering it for the first time! I envy all of you who will watch as Lorelai (Lauren Graham), her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) and family matriarch Emily (the incomparable Kelly Bishop) honestly portray three generations of strong women. It’s the only show you can watch with your teenage daughter and your mother and be assured you will all be equally entertained. In addition to the deft storytelling, there’s the never before or since matched rat-a-tat banter and pop-culture references that infuse all the dialogue. And the love stories! Lorelai and Luke (Scott Patterson) are one of TV’s greatest love stories. And will you be #TeamJess, #TeamDean or #TeamLogan? Even if I didn’t love the (very) flawed A Year in the Life and kind of despised the final four words, I still was so happy to see my friends in Stars Hollow again. The show became a part of my life. And it will become a part of yours, too. —Amy Amatangelo


14. Dash & Lily

Created by: Joe Tracz
Stars: Austin Abrams, Midori Francis
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Christmas in New York is a fabled institution. NYC is the home of the high-kicking Rockettes and the carefully curated Rockefeller tree; a place where gigantic ornaments line the streets of Midtown, and holiday markets pop up throughout the city as soon as the weather starts to turn. It’s hard to not get swept up in the magic of December in the city—except of course if you’re not a Christmas person, like Dash (Austin Abrams) in Netflix’s charming romance Dash & Lily.

Based on the novel Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, the eight-episode series is a scavenger hunt through a lived-in New York City, starting at the most romantic place of them all: The Strand Bookstore. Lily (Midori Francis), a lovelorn Christmas truist, leaves a book of clues in the stacks that intrigues Dash (an intellectual teen who hates the entire idea of the holiday), in the hopes of forging a romantic connection on the page. After a series of dares that get each other out of their respective comfort zones and a romantic back-and-forth via written letters in a red notebook, the duo have to face the truth of how their love translates to real life.

Dash & Lily is a delightful holiday-themed series that reminds us how festive and cozy the Christmas season normally feels, whether you usually celebrate in a city like New York or in your small hometown—or whether you celebrate Christmas at all. In a season of life now that continues to be unlike any other before it, celebrate the good things and treat yourself to a binge. —Radhika Menon


13. Anne with an E

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Created by: Moira Walley-Beckett
Stars: Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, R. H. Thomson, Lucas Jade Zumann, Dalila Bela, Corrine Koslo
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Netflix’s excellent Anne with an E may have had a bit of a shaky start as an Anne of Green Gables adaptation, but the show has gotten better with each new season and truly come into its own. Tragically, Season 3 is set to be its last. That’s a shame for a number of reasons, the foremost among them is that this is a show that understands teenagers so, so well, not just as the TV-trope of agents of camp and chaos, but as having heart and passion to set the world to rights. Each season of Anne has been increasingly triumphant as this core group of Canadian teens at the turn of the 20th century battle societal issues like racism, freedom of speech, and consent while navigating changing friendships, budding crushes, and studying for their college entrance exams. Anne is not always subtle—in fact, it almost never is—but it manages to meaningfully include the stories of people of color, LGBT narratives, and native peoples in a way that naturally extends the scope of its source material. At its core, Anne is a wonderfully optimistic and unique series that makes you feel better for having watched it, and we could certainly do with more of that. —Allison Keene


12. Ginny and Georgia

Created by: Sarah Lampert
Stars: Brianne Howey, Antonia Gentry, Diesel La Torraca, Jennifer Robertson
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Few series in recent memory have dared to be as fun and ambitious out of the gate as Netflix’s Ginny & Georgia, an engaging and suspenseful dramedy about a mother-daughter duo that has invoked obvious—but frankly uninspired—comparisons to Gilmore Girls. Though the two shows share a picturesque New England setting, investigate topics of wealth and privilege, and feature competent single mothers who had children as teens, Ginny (Antonia Gentry) and Georgia (Brianne Howey) are far from this generation’s Rory and Lorelai.

A biracial 15-year-old whose parents had her when they were just teens themselves, Ginny has never had a stable life; her photographer father never stuck around for too long, and her mother frequently relocated their small family from town to town in search of normalcy and security. This has had the unfortunate but perhaps unsurprising effect of making Ginny a constant outsider whose struggles with her racial identity—her father is Black and her mother is white—have made it difficult for her to make friends and fit in at each new stop on the road to Wellsbury, Massachusetts, the wealthy and predominantly white town the family settles in at the beginning of the show. Ginny’s experience stands in direct contrast to the beautiful and exuberant Georgia, who has seemingly mastered the art of assimilation after years of practice. As such, Ginny silently resents her mother, blaming her for myriad issues in her life while also believing she’ll never measure up to the woman who raised her.

I can’t say the show always nails its major revelations about life or motherhood or friendship, but there’s so much to like in these first 10 episodes it also doesn’t matter. In fact, the biggest hurdle the show faces is that Netflix hasn’t been too kind to similar coming-of-age shows in terms of cancellations after one season. But that threat shouldn’t keep anyone from enjoying this peek into the lives of Ginny and Georgia Miller. In fact, this is the only way the show has any hope of seeing a second season at all. And given where Ginny and Georgia end up at the end of the first season, you’re going to want to see everything Season 2 has in store. —Kaitlin Thomas


11. Glee

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Created by: Ryan Murphy
Stars: Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Kevin McHale, Amber Riley, Cory Monteith
Original Network: Fox

Watch on Netflix

Ryan Murphy isn’t exactly known for creating reality-based shows. So no, you didn’t go to a high school where the glee club could put together multiple Broadway-level productions complete with costumes, special effects, and elaborate sets each week. But Murphy understands teens. Glee spoke to the football jock and popular girl who always felt like they were pretending. It spoke to the gay teen who wished he could sing “Single Ladies” on the football field, and to the overachiever who would settle for nothing less than a Tony-winning career. You didn’t have a teacher like Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) because she would have been fired—but you definitely had a teacher who terrorized students. And if you were lucky, you had a teacher who believed in you the way Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) believed in his students. The series could be maddening (you could create a whole show with the characters Glee forgot about) and the plot twists were often ridiculous, but when Glee soared you never wanted to stop believin’. Amy Amatangelo


10. Legacies

Created by: Julie Plec
Stars:: Danielle Rose Russell, Aria Shahghasemi, Kaylee Bryant, Jenny Boyd, Quincy Fouse, Peyton Alex Smith, Matt Davis, Chris Lee
Original Network:: The CW

Watch on Netflix

Yes, TECHNICALLY Legacies is a hybrid spin-off of two different long-running Julie Plec series, The Vampire Diaries (eight seasons) and The Originals (five), and sure, technically it was in those series that the mythology driving the character arcs/motivations of Legacies’ most central leads, Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell) and Alaric Saltzman (Matthew Davis), was developed. After spending a cumulative 13 seasons not just telling stories on television, but telling stories on television from this specific world, Plec’s ability to set efficient narrative groundwork under fast-moving vampire feet is nothing if not masterful. Genuinely, aside from a few single-episode cameos of side characters from Hope and Alaric’s TVD/Originals past, the only thing you need to watch to make sense of Legacies is this official promo for the first season.

I really shouldn’t have to elaborate on this, but Legacies is set at the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted, which is the school for young witches, werewolves, vampires, and Hope that was funded by Hope’s (dead) dad and is located at/on the Salvatore family’s Virginia estate, just outside Mystic Falls. All the moody opulence of Damon and Stefan’s TVD homebase, all the zingy, angsty tropes of great Teen TV.

More than just being a fun setting, though, the Salvatore School gives Legacies a chance to sprawl out and complicate the consequences of being a teenager consigned to eternity as part of the supernatural world. These consequences are still very real and very serious in Legacies, but while The Vampire Diaries mined dramatic tension from supernatural teens (or at least vampires who looked superficially like teens) living in dangerous proximity to human teens, its kid sibling series looks inside for its tension. The teens at the story’s core need, first and foremost, to find a way to come to terms with their own inhumanity, and what it means to be good as they define it. And honestly, after so many years of TVD stories focused on the former, spending time with a bunch of super compelling, super different supernatural kids working through the latter is just a treat.

In other words: Julie Plec, still running wild supernatural stories turned up way past 11. —Alexis Gunderson


9. Sex Education

Created by: Laurie Nunn
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey, Connor Swindells
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

You’re an insecure, bright, sensitive teenage boy (Asa Butterfield) with a wildly uninhibited sex-guru mother (Gillian Anderson), an absentee dad (the epically hilarious James Purefoy), a chronically foot-in-mouth bully-magnet best friend, a limited social life and a clinically interesting fear of your own penis. You have a stealth crush on your school’s official Way Too Precocious girl, who’s hard up for money. So, naturally, you open a sex clinic for high-school students in an out-of-service school lavatory, right?

Of course you do.

Netflix’s Sex Education is a decidedly raunchy and thoroughly adorable coming-of-age dramedy. While it’s not exactly afraid of well-worn tropes, it also doesn’t rely on them to a detrimental degree… and it has Gillian Anderson as a sex therapist, which would be enough for a lot of us even if nothing else about the show worked. Luckily, that isn’t the case: A testament to the power of character development, the series is riveting. None of its superbly crafted characters waste a single frame. —Amy Glynn


8. Derry Girls

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Created by: Adam Lee
Stars: Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Dylan Llewellyn
Original Network: Channel 4

Watch on Netflix

The lovely, silly, funny and emotional Derry Girls is just the craic we need. The brief series (each season only runs six episodes) focuses on a group of schoolgirls in Northern Ireland in the ‘90s, during the last days of the Troubles. But in Lisa McGee’s series, that darkness is relegated to the background. Instead, the more traditional teen conflicts of school life and being boy crazy take center stage, along with lots of incredibly specific language and jokes about both that region and that time (you will definitely want to watch with subtitles on). Derry Girls is a warm and funny time hop carried by a dreamy 90s playlist and the gigantic charisma of its wee leads. —Allison Keene


7. Riverdale

Created by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Stars:: K.J. Apa, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Madelaine Petsch, Marisol Nichols, Ashleigh Murray, Mädchen Amick, Luke Perry
Original Network:: The CW

Watch on Netflix

This is the way I’ve been selling Riverdale to friends who have not yet wised up and started watching it: it’s Gossip Girl meets Twin Peaks, but with the characters from Archie Comics. That alone should be enough to suck them in, but if they need more convincing, I add that the late Luke Perry plays Archie’s dad, Molly Ringwald plays Archie’s mom, Skeet Ulrich plays Jughead’s creepy hot dad (who is also the head of the local gang, the Southside Serpents), and for the first third of the season, Archie is boning his music teacher, Ms. Grundy—who, unlike in the comics—where she’s an elderly white-haired lady—goes around wearing heart-eyed sunglasses and picking up teen boys. It’s ridiculous and campy in all the right ways (hey, this is a CW teen drama, after all), but there’s also a compelling murder mystery driving the plot (“Who killed Jason Blossom?” is Riverdale’s “Who killed Laura Palmer?”), with new twists and turns peppered in along the way. —Bonnie Stiernberg


6. Élite (E L I T E)

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Created by: Carlos Monte and Darío Madrona
Stars: María Pedraza, Itzan Escamilla, Miguel Bernardeau, Ester Expósito, Danna Paola, Miguel Herrán, Jaime Lorente, Álvaro Rico, Arón Piper, Mina El Hammani, Omar Ayuso, Jorge López, Claudia Salas, Georgina Amorós
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

A spiritual (though sexier and more diverse) successor to both The O.C. and Gossip Girl, with just a touch of SKAM thrown in for good measure, Netflix’s Spanish-language Original Series Élite (most often styled as E L I T E, with a final E turned backwards that our article can’t actually display, because of course it is!) is a teenage-class-warfare-lover’s dream. Featuring a sprawling ensemble cast of attractive Spanish twentysomethings, Élite follows a trio of working class public school kids—one of them, a hijabi from an immigrant Palestinian family—as they transfer to Las Encinas, an academically elite (and extremely expensive) private school on a kind of “whoops, my bad” scholarship sponsored by some of the rich parents whose cost-cutting construction business was found to have been at fault for their public school literally collapsing. The class tensions and psychosexual dramas this move provokes would be more than enough to fill any sexy, A+ teen series with (Riverdale truly wishes). Élite, however, is nothing if not expert in raising the stakes, each season framing these more quotidian (if highly stylized) teen dramas with a more explosive mystery—a brutal murder of a central member of the ensemble in Season 1, the bloody disappearance of another in Season 2, and the even bloodier death of a third in Season 3. By the end of the most recent season, alliances have fully swapped, ‘ships have been thoroughly mixed up, and allegiances have been pinned in every possible configuration. With two more seasons officially on the way—and who knows how many more possibly beyond those—the only thing we can really be certain of is that nothing at Las Encinas will ever be boring. —Alexis Gunderson


5. The Vampire Diaries

Created by: Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec
Stars: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Steven R. McQueen, Sara Canning, Kat Graham, Candice King, Zach Roerig, Kayla Ewell, Michael Trevino, Matt Davis, Joseph Morgan, Michael Malarkey
Original Network: The CW

Watch on Netflix

If ever a TV show moved the needle on bourbon sales, I’m guessing it was The Vampire Diaries. Vampire brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore (Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder) have a seemingly endless supply of brown liquor and an impressive collection of glassware. And I’ll admit, never before has a show more inspired me to drink along with the leads. But I digress… What began as an angst-filled teenage supernatural drama has actually developed into a compelling and frequently gruesome foray into the world of vampires (and werewolves and witches and hybrids and siphons and …) alongside the men and women who love them. While CW shows are often painted as skewing towards melodramatic teen/YA fare, that’s an increasingly unfair assertion and one that The Vampire Diaries did a great job of dispelling, particularly once it grew out of its early “Dawson’s Creek with vampires,” phase. Season 1, while intermittently strong, was more or less one of those shows people refer to as a guilty pleasure. It was fun, but not really good. Once creators Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson (creator of Dawson’s Creek, not a coincidence) really got a feel for where they wanted to take the show, however, it took off, and over the past seven years the show has proven to be a reliably well-acted, creepy and ethically complicated hour of drama. The upcoming eighth season is the show’s last, and it’s still strong. In the world of TV, there’s nothing worse than staying on too long. We’re going to miss the gang but it’s time and hopefully some of them will pop up in other spinoffs from time to time.—Mark Rabinowitz


4. Never Have I Ever

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Created by: Mindy Kaling, Lang Fisher
Stars: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Jaren Lewison, John McEnroe
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Being 15 sucks. You’re not sure who you are or what you’re doing or who you should be doing it with, but you’re 100% certain that everyone around you is always laser-focused on every embarrassing mistake that you make. Mindy Kaling’s new coming-of-age sitcom taps into the painful awkwardness of figuring it all out with the same mix of earnestness, realism and humor as Freaks and Geeks and The Wonder Years, but filtered through a cultural lens not often seen on American TV. Devi Vishwakumar isn’t just grappling with typical teenage drama, but is stuck between two cultures that she never quite feels like a full member of: the American life she was born and raised in, and the Indian heritage of her family. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan captures this anxiety and charm beautifully, that weird mix of constant shame and unearned confidence, in what is shockingly her first professional acting role. If you’re looking for a teen comedy that reflects the ups and downs of real life and is actually funny, here’s your chance. —Garrett Martin


3. All American

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Created by: April Blair
Stars: Daniel Ezra, Taye Diggs, Bre-Z, Greta Onieogou, Samantha Logan, Michael, Evans Behling, Cody Christian, Karimah Westbrook, Monét Mazur, Jalyn Hall, Chelsea Tavares, Da’Vinchi
Original Network: The CW

Watch on Netflix

More or less the Platonic ideal of the American High School Drama, the CW’s All American is a bright spot of explicitly diverse near*-realism (*I’m looking at you, all you unreasonably fit twenty-something Adonises) in a still mostly white network sea of superheroes, the supernatural and the comically stylized.

Inspired by the life of professional American football player Spencer Paysinger, All American tells the story of Spencer James (Daniel Ezra), a star football player from South L.A. who’s recruited by a coach (Taye Diggs), an expat of the same neighborhood to come play for him in Beverly Hills—a plan which necessitates Spencer moving in with the coach and his family in order to get around the school’s hyper-strict zip code requirements. Much of the drama that follows, both in Beverly Hills and back in South L.A., is what you’d expect: The rich kids have expensive pill addictions or are spiraling into depression after being left alone in their mansions for months on end by their oblivious jet-setting parents, while the kids in South L.A. are trapped in a school that is chronically underfunded and over-policed, and are at risk for falling into gang life.

But the compassion and grace with which All American handles all of these problems, matched with the grounded performances each of the young actors puts in, gives the show ample opportunity to transcend primetime melodrama. As the lead, Ezra is excellent, as compelling in tender moments of private vulnerability as he is in athletic feats on the field, but equally arresting are Bre-Z as Spencer’s fast-talking, bar-spouting queer best friend Coop, and Samantha Logan as the fragile-y sober Olivia Baker, Coach’s daughter and the first friend and confidante Spencer makes in Beverly Hills. Throughout the real-time run of each of its first two seasons, All American hasn’t made much of a splash, but given how immediately it rose to the Top 10 in Netflix’s new internal ranking system once its latest season was added, and how long it held a spot there, even weeks after first being made available, it’s clear that teens streaming at home know exactly where the good shit’s at—and now you do, too. —Alexis Gunderson


2. Stranger Things

Created by: The Duffer Brothers
Stars: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Matthew Modine
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Say what you will about the finer points of its storytelling, Stranger Things continues to be an unabashed celebration of the 1980s, from its own filmic references regarding style and story to a cavalcade of literal references from the era. Its plucky set of kid and teen characters battle monsters (real or within themselves) and go to the mall. It’s a nostalgic dream and a creepfest nightmare. But whether it’s set during Halloween or in the throes of a mid-80s summer, the show’s carefully crafted aesthetics always serve to augment the joyful nature of the series’ non-monster moments. And that, really, is where Stranger Things shines. The creep factor is important (and occasionally actually scary or super gory), but it acts as an almost funny juxtaposition to the otherwise happy-go-lucky look at suburban life. Mainly, though, it’s the friendships and coming-of-age stories, the relationships and family bonding, that really make Stranger Things great. For better or worse, the Netflix horror series is as tasty, messy, and fleeting as an ice cream cone on a hot summer’s day. —Allison Keene


1. On My Block

Created by: Lauren Iungerich, Eddie Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft
Stars Diego Tinoco, Jason Genao, Jessica Marie Garcia, Sierra Capri and Brett Gray
Original Network: Netflix

Watch on Netflix

Netflix’s South Central L.A.-set dramedy On My Block is one big, irreverently cocksure nod to all the (whitest) parts of the modern cultural canon one would least expect to find in a coming-of-age story about brown 14- and 15-year olds just trying to survive daily life on their gang-ruled streets. For the first couple of episodes, the series’ slangy allusiveness makes for a story that feels shaggy at best, and structurally unsound at worst, but when the final credits hit, it’s clear that not one second of the season’s episodes was wasted: Every line was measured out, every background track meticulously calibrated, every initially jarring tonal shift set up precisely for a singular cumulative effect that lands in the season’s final moments like a punch to the chest you realize too late you should have seen coming from a mile away. —Alexis Gunderson

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