Ah, the teen show. It’s a hard genre to really codify, but everyone knows it when they see it. Aside from necessarily featuring teenage characters, a teen show could be anything from the lightest comedy to the darkest murder mystery. Many cover heady issues teenage audiences will confront as they become adults with sensitivity and maturity. Many do it in a trashy way, too. Often, shows for teens do all this at once, bouncing between serious and goofy at the drop of a hat.
There’s a pretty wide selection of teen shows on Netflix, both originals and more traditional TV series. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best, spanning a variety of genres and tones.
To be clear, trashy doesn’t necessarily mean trash. The overwrought, melodramatic elements of many of the Netflix teen shows on this list are why we love them. Many of these stories are patently ridiculous, featuring characters more naive than fifth-graders and more jaded than a noir film detective. It’s all part of the appeal.
Best teen shows on Netflix:
Editor’s note: This list will be updated as teen shows leave and other new arrivals make their debut on Netflix.
Likely the current strongest contender for the title of arch-teen show, Riverdale brings the classic characters of the Archie comics to the small screen — except where the comics were cartoonish and light hearted, this show offers something a bit grimmer. Sure, there’s still an element of humor running through it all, but you won’t find Jughead (Cole Sprouse) single-mindedly obsessed with burgers here. Instead he’s more likely sit brooding over a coffee, trying puzzle through solutions to one of the show’s multiple murder mysteries.
Think of this show like if someone threw Twin Peaks and Pretty Little Liars in a stew, then sprinkled Archie details all over it. It’s weird, goofy, and melodramatic in a way only a show about extremely hormonal teens can be. If you’re looking for small town intrigue featuring a cast of eccentric characters, played by actors who all seem just a little too attractive, look no further.
The show kind of goes off the rails in later seasons, but that’s no doubt what a lot of people are looking for anyway. Currently three seasons are out on Netflix, with a fourth coming soon.
2. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Set in the Riverdale-universe town of Greendale, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina takes a similar approach to adapting the adventures of everyone’s favorite teenage witch. This Netflix Original series swaps the murder mystery of Riverdale for supernatural intrigue.
Where Riverdale forced Betty and Jughead into the role of detectives, and made Archie decide between playing football or music (my, what tough and equal challenges), The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina starts by confronting Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) with the choice of living as a human or living as a witch.
As a human, Sabrina would get to live with the people she loves in Greendale, continuing to go to high school, and leading a normal life. As a witch, she would gain access wondrous magical power and near immortality, but need to leave the mortal world behind. To make matters worse, becoming a witch requires signing your name in The Book of The Beast, which binds you to the will of the devil, and forces you to do his bidding whether you like it or not.
The show deals with the usual teen show fare, like relationship and high school drama, but it also takes aim at sexism, organized religion, and often how the two interact — all with a hefty dose of the supernatural.
The show has two seasons (or parts) available right now, along with a Christmas special, and a third season is planned for future release.
3. Sex Education
If grim teen murder mysteries and the magical struggle between good and evil are a little too heavy, Sex Education might be just the thing. The show follows Otis (Asa Butterfield), the sexually repressed teenage son of sex therapist Jean (Gillian Anderson). Otis is a relative nobody at his school, but a twist of fate finds him going into business with school rebel Maeve (Emma Mackey), giving teenagers sex and therapy advice.
Otis doesn’t have much, if any, first hand experience, but growing up around his mom has given him a pretty in-depth theoretical understanding of developmental psychology, particularly concerning kids his age.
Sex education manages a pretty impressive balancing act, offering both the comedic and pretty serious dramatic turns typical of the best teen shows on Netflix. Its second season is in production, to be released in the future.
4. Stranger Things
Seems like Stranger Things is a perennial favorite of just about any type of Netflix list these days. The show draws on so many different influences and covers such varied ground, that it’s hard not to think of it when coming up with entries for sci-fi, horror, and of course teen shows on Netflix.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Stranger Things is like candy. It’s a concentrated hit of nostalgia for an era many of its viewers were never alive for in the first place. If you somehow haven’t heard of it, it focuses on a group of kids in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s as they help an amnesiac psychic girl named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) deal with monsters from another dimension.
The show lovingly recreates the world of the 1980s, drawing on films like ET in its first season, and then teen high school dramas in its second and third seasons. The third season especially draws on teen fiction, as it takes aim at the beginning of mall culture in the United States.
Stranger Things is goofy and sweet, with equal parts horror and comedy. If you haven’t watched it, you should fix that. It’s easily one of the best teen shows on Netflix, let alone any other kind.
5. American Vandal
American Vandal takes a slightly different approach to teen drama. Rather than the moody mystery of Riverdale or the glossy nostalgia of Stranger Things, this show takes a documentary-style approach, drawing influences from true-crime shows like the podcast Serial, or Netflix’s own documentary original, Making a Murderer.
The mockumentary series follows high school students Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck), part of their school’s A/V club, as they investigate the suspension of accused vandal Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro) for spray painting dicks on all the cars in the school parking lot.
The absurd premise, paired with the equal absurdity of the students’ serious approach makes this one of the more unique teen shows on Netflix, and certainly one of the most entertaining.
American Vandal was sadly cancelled after its second season, so there’s only 16 wonderful episodes.
Atypical follows autistic teen Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist) in his quest to get a girlfriend, and looks at the ways in which that goal affects his family. This smart coming of age drama offers an interesting look at an autistic person learning to interact with a world that doesn’t move at his pace, and at the people around him all learning how to interact with him.
This show hops back and forth between serious and comedic as well as the best in the genre, with great performances from its lead, as well from Michael Rapaport and Jennifer Jason Leigh. It also gets awkward as heck.
There are currently two seasons of Atypical available on Netflix, with a third planned for some time in the future.
7. Your Lie in April
It feels like a no brainer to include at least one anime series in a list like — basically half of the medium is about teens, regardless of the genre. Your Lie in April follows Kosei, a former child piano prodigy. Now in his teens, Kosei is unable to play the piano after a mental breakdown following his mother’s death years previous. That all starts to change when he makes a new friend, the talented and free spirited violinist Kaori.
The show is visually fascinating, gradually introducing more vivid colors as Kosei comes out of his shell. It’s also perhaps one of the most emotionally manipulative stories on Netflix. I mean that in a good way — expect to finish this one crying.
This was a limited series, and the show concluded after its single 22 episode season.
8. The End of The F***ing World
One of the strangest teen shows on Netflix, End of the F***ing World follows James, a 17-year-old boy who thinks he’s a psychopath. After he gets bored of killing animals, James decides to give killing a person a try. He settles on rebellious teen Alyssa, who upon meeting him convinces James to travel across England with her. Thinking this will provide a good opportunity to kill her, James agrees, and the two go on a trip and eventually develop feelings for each other.
This may sound a little psychotic for a teen coming of age show — it is — but End of the F***ing World is actually strangely sweet, and often quite funny. The difference in James’ narration, which occurs throughout the show, and how he interacts with other characters often leads to pretty entertaining situations.
If you’re looking for something more offbeat, this will certainly scratch that itch. End of the F***ing World has one season out on Netflix, and season two is expected this year.
There are tons of other teen shows on Netflix, and we’ll add more as new ones come out. Be sure to check out our other Netflix best lists below!