With a title like Sex Education, you are sure to be in for a wild ride. This Netflix dramedy follows Otis (Asa Butterfield), an awkward teen who ends up becoming a sex therapist for the students of his school. Tackling topics such as abortion, sexual assault, LGBTQ+ relationships, drug abuse, and of course, sex, it isn’t afraid to break barriers in the teen genre. With the pick up for a third season, we hope to get answers to many of Season 2’s unresolved questions. Will Maeve (Emma Mackey) ever hear Otis’ voicemail in which he professed his feelings for her? (Isaac deleted it out of jealousy.) We will just have to wait to find out!
On My Block (Netflix)
On My Block is yet another Netflix teen dramedy that tackles serious subjects with a unique approach. It follows the lives of four high school friends as they try to find normalcy in their world full of gang violence. While it does have its comedic moments, often from the hilarious Jasmine (Jessica Marie Garcia), it doesn’t shy away from portraying gang violence and its effects on communities with a fresh realism. Both Seasons 1 & 2 ended with massive cliffhangers — Ruby (Jason Genao) and Olivia (Ronni Hawk) getting shot and the four friends being kidnapped — which means that Season 3 is sure to be just as crazy!
Jack Rowand/The CW
Riverdale (The CW)
Riverdale keeps viewers coming back because its storylines get stranger — from uncovering murderers to stopping cults — with every season. What started as an Archie Comics murder mystery has turned into an insane world of drama. This season’s main plot revolved around the “death” of Jughead (Cole Sprouse), who was recently confirmed to be alive. Unexpected twists and turns make the CW series one that sucks audiences in, and it certainly will continue to do so in future seasons.
This black-ishspin-off following Zoey Johnson’s (Yara Shahidi) college life has been a favorite among teens since its premiere in 2018. Zoey and her friends take us through their lives as they try to discover who they are amidst college drama and relationships. Season 3 has largely dealt with the reveal of Nomi’s (Emily Arlook) pregnancy and its effect on her and her friends. That storyline is just one way in which the show portrays realistic college experiences in both a serious and light-hearted manner. We can’t wait for what’s still to come.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
Who knew a show could tackle teen topics so well in a world full of witchcraft? The Netflix original follows Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) as she balances her lives in the witch and human worlds. Not only do the magic and fantasy make it a must-watch, but the relationships and human stories are what matter most. Whether part of the Spellman family, Sabrina’s human and witch friends, or the Harvey-Sabrina-Nick love triangle, these complex and badass characters make the show what it is. And of course, the magic is pretty cool, too.
HBO’s Euphoria proves that teen shows can be just as intense and dramatic as any others. It follows Rue (Zendaya), a drug addict teenager recently out of rehab, and her struggle to stay clean. Each character deals with self-discovery in some way, such as Jules’ (Hunter Schafer) journey as a transgender woman and Kat’s exploration of her sexuality. Its rapid popularity and critical acclaim have established it as one of the best teen shows in recent years. The Season 1 finale saw Rue back out of leaving town with Jules, only to relapse right after. Season 2 is sure to pick up with the consequences of Rue’s actions with her family and Jules, ensuring that Euphoria will continue to push the boundaries of a teen drama.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Disney+)
While some may pass this off as a kids’ show, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series erased the doubts of fans of the movie series. It does appeal to both kids and teens alike, but it targets the original fan base, including many of the cast, who grew up with the films. Following the popular mockumentary style of many sitcoms, the show follows the students of East High School (the filming location of the school in the HSM movies) as they put on a production of High School Musical. To impress his ex-girlfriend, Nini (Olivia Rodrigo), Ricky (Joshua Bassett) auditions for the production, and drama ensues when they are cast as the two leads, Troy and Gabriella. The lovable characters and catchy original songs make this a must-watch for any Disney fan.
Teen shows have always been a huge part of a generation’s pop culture, often reflecting the views and interests of teens at the time.
While many have cemented themselves as staples, such as Gossip Girl or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, today’s continue to push the genre into new territory, covering difficult subject matter while being fun at the same time.