Top 20 Netflix Original Teen Shows
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Netflix Original Teen Shows.
For this list, we’ll be looking at all the best series the streamer has produced about the trials and tribulations of being a teen as well as those targeting that demographic.
If we missed any of your favorites, let us know in the comments below!
#20: “Alexa & Katie” (2018-20)
Freshman year of high school is tough no matter what. But when Alexa finds out that she has cancer, the beginning of high school becomes almost unbearable. “Alexa & Katie” follows Alexa and her best friend, Katie, as they try to navigate this new step in their lives while dealing with Alexa’s illness. The series ended after three seasons, but while it ran it offered a tender, funny, and realistic look at what it’s like for a young person to deal with a serious illness. Alexa and Katie have a wonderful friendship, and it was great to see a show take on such serious subject matter – especially for teenagers.
#19: “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (2018-20)
Let’s go, witches. Many of us first fell in love with Sabrina Spellman in the 90s with the classic sitcom “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” But in 2018, Netflix gifted us with a much spookier adaptation of the classic Archie comic. “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is jam-packed with campy, horror fun and great visuals. As Sabrina, Kiernan Shipka expertly combines playfulness with power, giving us a boss witch for the ages. But Sabrina doesn’t only have to deal with witch problems – she has regular teenage problems too. One of the show’s strengths was how effortlessly it combined those two things.
#18: “Anne With an E” (2017-19)
As a kid, you more than likely read “Anne of Green Gables,” Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic children’s lit masterpiece. There have been numerous adaptations of the novel, but not until “Anne With an E” did we find one that we loved just as much. Thirteen-year-old Anne Shirley is a wonderful young heroine, and the show uses her story to tackle numerous themes. Throughout “Anne With an E,” the characters work through issues such as classicism, gender inequality, freedom of speech, and so much more. Anne teaches us to question everything and to be ourselves – two things every teen should learn.
#17: “Ginny & Georgia” (2021-)
After the success of “Gilmore Girls” in the 2000s, it’s a wonder that it took this long to make another mother/daughter vehicle. But with “Ginny & Georgia,” Netflix more than filled that void. The show follows 15-year-old Ginny and her mother Georgia, who had her when she was just a teenager herself. Much like “Gilmore Girls,” the two oftentimes feel more like friends than mother and daughter. The program not only explores the dating and social lives of Ginny and Georgia, but spends a lot of time on developing their relationship. If you’re looking for a sweet and funny mother/daughter show, this one’s for you.
#16: “Julie and the Phantoms” (2020)
We love music. We love ghost stories. So, why not combine the two? That’s exactly what “Julie and the Phantoms” did. This Netflix series centers on Julie, a struggling teen musician dealing with the death of her mother. During a listening session gone wrong, Julie accidentally summons the ghosts of a 90s band named Sunset Curve. What’s a girl to do? Start her own phantasmic musical group, of course! The show is funny, creative, and always has a musical number or two that’ll get your toes tapping. Unfortunately, Netflix canceled the show after just one season, but we’ll always hold it dear.
#15: “Everything Sucks!” (2018)
Everyone loves a good parody, but sometimes it’s hard to merge parody with actually interesting plot and characters. Luckily for us, “Everything Sucks!” was able to do just that. The show takes place in Oregon in 1996, and parodies 90s teen culture in a way that’s both fun and nostalgic. The show mostly centers around students in the drama and A/V clubs, and focuses on the difficulties that come with sexuality, drugs, and more. “Euphoria” fans will recognize a young Sydney Sweeney, and the rest of the cast is wonderful too, bringing humor and pathos to this short-lived teen series.
#14: “The Society” (2019)
Netflix often cancels shows before their time. But with this one? We don’t know if we’ll ever be able to forgive them. “The Society” premiered in 2019 and immediately got fans trying to uncover its central mystery. The show follows some teens in West Ham, Connecticut who have to try to figure out how to survive on their own after everyone else in their town goes missing. The program featured a stellar cast and had some pretty interesting things to say about the nature of community and adulthood. When the first season ended on a cliffhanger, fans could hardly wait for season two. After an initial renewal, however, Netflix canceled the show, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason why.
#13: “Heartstopper” (2022-)
One of the newer shows on this list, Netflix’s “Heartstopper” immediately packed a punch with fans. The coming-of-age show follows protagonists Charlie and Nick as they start to develop feelings for each other. While Charlie is already out as gay, Nick has spent the majority of the series so far figuring out his own sexuality and feelings. The show is incredibly tender and empathetic to both boys and tackles a lot of serious issues while never skimping on the romance. It was so immediately popular that Netflix has already ordered a second and third season, meaning more time with Nick and Charlie for us!
#12: “The End of the F***ing World” (2017-19)
Before “I Am Not Okay With This” (more on that one later), Channel 4 and Netflix adapted Charles Forsman’s “The End of the F***ing World”, whose dark concept was unlike anything we had seen before. Originally premiering in the UK with Netflix distributing the dark comedy-drama everywhere else soon after, the series centers on James, a teen who believes himself to be a psychopath and decides to kill one of his classmates. But he ends up bonding with his targeted victim, and the show shifts to focus on their friendship and the misadventures they find themselves on after they decide to run away together and travel on a road trip of sorts around England.
#11: “13 Reasons Why” (2017-20)
Based on the novel by Jay Asher, this show has been hugely popular, and also very controversial because of its sensitive subject matter. The first season focuses on a high schooler who chooses to end her life and looks back at all of the events that brought her to that decision. The drama looks at many of the difficult issues that teens are facing today through a dramatic lens, giving us characters that we can’t help but feel for as we watch them navigate the hell that high school can be.
#10: “Atypical” (2017-21)
Sam, the 18-year-old protagonist of “Atypical” has autism spectrum disorder, which is what brings this show outside the norm. While at first the coming-of-age series received criticism for not portraying the disorder accurately, they took people’s comments to heart in season two and improved by hiring more writers and actors with autism in the cast and crew. In many ways, Sam encounters all of the usual perils of a high school student, but his outlook on life makes it even more difficult for him than it is for your average teen.
#9: “I Am Not Okay With This” (2020)
Released in 2020, “I Am Not Okay With This” inevitably garnered comparisons to both “Stranger Things” and “The End of the F***ing World” because it focuses on a teenage girl who is grieving her father and also discovering that she has superpowers. It’s based on a comic book by the already mentioned Charles Forsman. The show takes the difficult experience of growing up and facing adulthood with this unique angle, showing teenage anger in a way that is much more visceral that we’re used to seeing on TV.
#8: “Control Z” (2020-22)
If there’s one thing we love more than hackers, it’s teenage hackers. This Spanish-language Netflix show oddly feels more like a fresh take on “Gossip Girl” than the new “Gossip Girl” does, but we wouldn’t ask for anything different. “Control Z” follows a group of high school students who suddenly find their deepest and darkest secrets exposed by a mysterious hacker online. One student, Sofia, decides she’s not going to take this sitting down. The show offers a fun mystery and is full of twists and turns. All three seasons are available on Netflix, and it’s sure to keep you on your toes the whole time.
#7: “Outer Banks” (2020-)
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, one Netflix show rose above the rest. At the time, it seemed like everyone was watching “Outer Banks” – and for good reason! The program is set in coastal North Carolina and follows a group of local teens through romance, mystery, crime, and adventure. The show has a soapy melodrama feel to it, reminiscent of our favorite 2000s and 90s shows of yore. With two seasons in the bank and a third season on the way, it seems that “Outer Banks” was not just an early pandemic phenomenon – it’s here to stay.
#6: “On My Block” (2018-21)
This comedy-drama has got to be one of the most underrated teen shows that Netflix has aired. Despite holding a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, many people haven’t heard of “On My Block”, which tells the story of four young people growing up in the diverse area of South Central Los Angeles. We see Monsé, Ruby, Jamal and Cesar starting their high school years off together and face all the difficulties that typical teens do, along with the added issues they encounter because of living in an underprivileged area.
#5: “American Vandal” (2017-18)
If you like true crime shows but also want a good laugh every once in a while, then this show is for you. Poking fun at the trend of true crime documentaries, “American Vandal” takes a satirical look at an instance of high school vandalism and treats it with the seriousness that those shows would a murder case. Someone has vandalized 27 cars in the parking lot of Hanover High School with images that resemble male members, and a group of students decides to get to the bottom of it. In season two, the crime is different but the theme is the same, and it’s possibly even better.
#4: “Never Have I Ever” (2020-)
This series seems to have arrived at exactly the right moment. Created and executive produced by none other than Mindy Kaling, “Never Have I Ever” is about Devi Vishwakumar, a young Indian American girl living in modern LA. Her father suddenly died shortly before the action of the show began, and in her grief she temporarily lost the use of her legs, leaving her wheelchair bound. The show is undeniably a comedy, but it also has a lot of heart, taking us through Devi’s grieving period, which she has to face whether she likes it or not.
#3: “Elite” (2018-)
Don’t let the fact that it’s a Spanish language production scare you off- there’s a reason this thriller teen drama is so high on our list. Focusing on an exclusive private school and three lower income teens who somehow find themselves attending, “Elite” is not just a typical high school show but also a murder mystery. Not only that, but it also deals with a lot of more political issues like diversity and xenophobia. While you can watch it with the Castilian Spanish dubbed over with English, we’d really recommend trying it with subtitles to be able to hear the original dialogue.
#2: “Stranger Things” (2016-)
Taking the world by storm with its impressive supernatural effects and comforting ‘80s callbacks, “Stranger Things” has kept viewers coming back by giving us a relatable cast of kids to root for. Though Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will start off mostly caring about Dungeons & Dragons, once Eleven enters their lives, everything gets turned… well, Upside Down. By the third season, not only do the Hawkins kids have to contend with monsters, but the risk of moving away from their friends, hitting up the local mall, and, most dauntingly, dating. Luckily, they have each other - as well as the likes of resident Mom Steve Harrington, Will’s brother Jonathan, Mike’s sister Nancy, Robin Buckley and Eddie Munson - to guide and help them along the way.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Teenagers Live in the Post-Apocalypse with Zombie-Like Creatures & More
“Greenhouse Academy” (2017-20)
Boarding School Adventures For the Win
“First Kill” (2022-)
If Being a Teen Wasn’t Hard Enough, Try Being a Vampire
“Grand Army” (2020)
High School, Brooklyn-Style
Despite Their Various Backgrounds, These Girls Have an Unbreakable Bond
#1: “Sex Education” (2019-)
Despite the fact that it’s set in a world where American high school customs seemingly exist in the idyllic English countryside, “Sex Education” may be the most realistic teen show ever made. Yes, it has an ambiguous ‘80s aesthetic, but it also confronts some of the diverse sexual issues that young people all face. There is plenty of representation on screen here, be it racial, sexual or class based. The characters on this British comedy-drama may not always make the right choices, but we can’t help but root for them anyway and hope that it all turns out okay in the end.