Summer is upon us, and most teens may have more free time than during the school year to watch TV and just relax in general. Netflix has endless options of teenage or YA content to choose from, ranging in genre from romance to sci-fi to straight dramas.
Teen content has undergone an amazing transformation in recent years, with plenty of shows capturing more adult themes as well like “Sex Education,” “Ginny and Georgia” and “Stranger Things.” Others have more of a fantasy or genre-specific element like “First Kill,” “Shadow and Bone” and “Locke & Key.”
So if you’re looking for a great new teen TV show to watch, we’ve got you covered. Here are 15 of the best teen or YA shows to watch on Netflix right now.
Perfect for summer like “The Summer I Turned Pretty” but with far more action and classic adventure, “Outer Banks” watches the beloved foursome John B (Chase Stokes), JJ (Rudy Pankow), Pope (Johnathan Davis) and Kiara (Madison Bailey) embark on a treasure hunt when John B finds his missing dad’s compass and pieces clues together from there. In this fictionalized version of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, society is divided between Kooks, the rich elite, and Pogues, the poor laborers. All the guys in John B’s crew are Pogues, and things get interesting when Kook Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline) takes an interest in John B as well as his treasure hunt. Kiara is also a Kook, but she feels like she fits in better with the Pogues. The search for the shipwreck of The Royal Merchant, where a large some of money is supposed to be, entices the group on. Season 3 of “Outer Banks” is currently in production.
Following the footsteps of shows like “The Vampire Diaries” and movies like “Twilight,” “First Kill” falls most similarly into the vein of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Calliope (Imani Lewis) is a young monster-hunter-in-training who unknowingly falls in love with a vampire named Juliette (Sarah Catherine Hook). Traces of “Romeo and Juliet” can be found in this vampire soap series directly since the play is in production at the girls’ high school, and more metaphorically as well with Calliope coming from a family of well-known, talented monster hunters and Juliette coming from a line of wealthy elite “legacy” bloodsuckers, who are harder to vanquish than your regular vampire. To make matters further complicated, each young girl is preparing for a right of passage called the “first kill” in which Calliope is supposed to slay her first monster and Juliette is supposed to kill and drink the blood from her first human. The star-crossed lovers’ story has unfolded in one season so far.
For the dystopia lovers of books like “Divergent,” “The Hunger Games” and “The Maze Runner” and more, “The 100” is about as dystopian and post-apocalyptic as it gets. Based on Kass Morgan’s young adult science fiction books, “The 100” watches Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) and her peers get sent to Earth from their spaceship to test if Earth is still habitable. Many of the teens in the cohort sent to Earth were placed in the troupe as a consequence of past rule-breaking, and even Clarke’s mother (Paige Turco) who is a prominent scientist on the Ark (the mother ship) can’t save her from this fate.
While on the ground, the teenagers have to establish their own society with rules, and Clarke fights Bellamy Blake (Bob Morley) over leadership of their camp. Clarke falls for Finn Collins (Thomas McDonell) only to find out he has a girlfriend Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan) who is a badass engineer on the Ark and figures out a way to get down to Earth to be with him. As the kids get used to life back on the ground, they come in contact with “Grounders” or people who survived on Earth when they left on the Ark. Most, but not all, of the Grounders are hostile, and soon Clarke and company realize they are in for a wild ride back on the surface.
Based on the graphic novel by Alice Oseman, the “Heartstopper” series launched on Netflix in April 2022. Before heading to print, the story existed as a webcomic on Tumblr and Tapas, and it took Oseman less than two hours to crowd-fund the limited print-run edition. The story centers Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and Nick Nelson (Kit Conner), two boys from slightly different social circles who find themselves falling for each other after getting paired up in a class together. The young adult series follows the two as they first become really good friends and then find themselves drawn to each other romantically. The coming-of-age and coming-out series spotlights a glowing LGBTQ+ community and has already been renewed for two more seasons.
“Never Have I Ever”
Mindy Kaling’s hit comedy series just launched its third season in August. Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) had a rough start to her high school career. Her dad’s tragic death hindered her freshman year, but the sight of Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet) somehow brought her out of her paralysis, and ever since, Devi has had the biggest crush on him. Devi is determined to reach popularity status, along with her friends of course, but sometimes she cares too much about what other people think of her. Her arch-nemesis Ben Gross (Jaren Lewison) gives her competition on the academic side of things, and their relationship creates a fun dynamic. Other important relationships include those with Devi’s mom Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), grandmother Nirmala (Ranjita Chakravarty) and cousin Kamala (Richa Moorjani). The whole series is narrated by professional tennis player John McEnroe, whose temper and hotheadedness matches Devi’s.
“Ginny and Georgia”
“Ginny and Georgia” challenges the traditional dynamic between mother and daughter, with Ginny (Antonia Gentry) constantly challenging (and sometimes questioning) her mother Georgia (Brianne Howey). Georgia fell in love when she was really young and got pregnant with Ginny, but she didn’t stay with Ginny’s father. Georgia has a mysterious history behind her. She moves Ginny and her other son Austin Miller (Diesel La Torraca) to Wellsbury, Mass. where Ginny has to start all over at high school. Neighbor Ellen (Jennifer Robertson) bonds over motherhood with Georgia, and her twins Marcus (Felix Mallard) and Maxine (Sarah Waisglass) go to the same high school as Ginney. Max becomes good friends with Ginny while she doesn’t get the best first impression of Marcus because Georgia asks him for weed. Soon Georgia catches the eye of Mayor Paul Randolph (Scott Porter) and she starts working for him but has other intentions. Soon the smooth new life Georgia has created for her kids starts to crack because of her past.
The heartwarming “Sex Education” is a must-watch for all ages, but it deals with a specific teenage phenomenon for which it’s named. Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) is moving into sixth form at Moordale Secondary School, where his peers are going through adolescence and all of the hormones and feelings that come with it. Otis’ mother Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) is a sex therapist, and at first Otis wants nothing to do with that kind of conversation with his mother, but then he helps a fellow student Adam (Connor Swindells) out at school when he takes too much Viagra. Otis realizes he’s good at sex therapy and Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey) tries to capitalize on this talent by suggesting to Otis that they should start a sex clinic at school. Otis’ best friend Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa) helps him through his ups and downs as he starts falling for Maeve. Each additional character only makes the series more delightful, including Kedar Williams-Sterling’s Jackson Marchetti, Aime Lou Wood’s Aimee Gibbs, Patricia Allison’s Olla Nyman and so many more. “Ted Lasso” star Hannah Waddingham makes appearances here and there as does “Girls” and now “Conversations with Friends” star Jemima Kirke.
“Locke & Key”
Often described as “Harry Potter” meets “Stranger Things,” “Locke & Key” combines fantasy with thrills. The Locke family lost its patriarch Randall to a shocking death, and his widow Nina (Darby Stanchfield) moves their three children to the old Locke estate, called Keyhouse. Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsie (Emilia Jones) and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) have very different stances on moving, but when youngest brother Bode has a strange encounter with a lady at the bottom of the well who tells him the keys he stars to find are magic, his older siblings soon realize he’s not just using his imagination to play pretend. Two seasons of the show, adapted from the comic books, written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez, have taken the Locke family from evil demon Dodge to friend-turned-enemy Gabe, and the third and final season will be on Netflix August 10.
“Shadow and Bone”
Leigh Bardugo’s YA fantasy novels “Shadow and Bone” are kind of like a teen-centric “Game of Thrones.” Season 1 tells the story of Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Lei) and her childhood friend Malyen Oretsev (Archie Renaux) as Alina follows Mal through The Fold, a swathe of dark shadowy smoke that contains monsters known as Vulcra, who sense light and attack many ships that attempt to cross it. This divide between East and West Ravka was created by a Grisha, or folks with magical powers, long ago. Alina herself comes to realize that she is also Grisha, and not just any Grisha but the Sun Summoner, promised by many to undo what the Dark One — the Grisha who created The Fold — did.
General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) realizes who Alina is, and takes her under his wing for some training, but soon they are more than just mentor and mentee. On the opposite side of the fold from where Alina and Mal started are Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) and Jesper Fehey (Kit Young), a band of hustlers who do odd jobs to make money. They join the hunt for the Sun Summoner at the reward of one million kruge, the currency of Kerch. Season 2 has wrapped filming.
“The Get Down”
While this short-lived dramedy tells a mostly fictionalized account of the birth of hip-hop in 1970s-era Bronx, its co-creators Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis teamed up with the actual pioneers who brought the movement to the zeitgeist, such as MC Nas, Grandmaster Flash and historian Nelson George, to ground it in authentic storytelling. “The Get Down” incorporates real New York City events into its timeline, as told by its lead character, the budding wordsmith Zeke (Justice Smith). Featuring a breakout role from Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Shameik Moore, the story — about young Black and brown teens discovering their identities — unfolds against a backdrop of sociopolitical crisis, artistic creativity and high school romance.
Eurotrash “Gossip Girl” meets “How to Get Away with Murder,” this soapy, oftentimes outrageous YA flick from Netflix Spain has everything you could possibly want: criminal conspiracies, love triangles and neon club parties. “Elite” follows the antagonism and conflict that ensues when three working class teens enroll in the exclusive private high school Las Encinas, eventually culminating in a student’s murder. The original cast (which has waxed and waned throughout the seasons) features Ester Expósito, Itzan Escamilla, Miguel Bernardeau, Arón Piper, Omar Asuyo, Danna Paola, Mina El Hammani and “Money Heist’s” Jaime Lorente, Miguel Herrán and María Pedraza.
“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”
Based on the Archie Horror Comics of the same name (and existing in the same universe as creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s other teen show, the infamous “Riverdale” — see above), “CAOS” follows the title half-witch Sabrina Spellman as she is forced to choose between everything she holds near and dear to her and her birthright as a sorceress, on the eve of her 16th birthday. The spooky and horror-tinged drama — starring Kiernan Shipka, Chance Perdomo, Tati Gabrielle, Gavin Leatherwood, Ross Lynch and Jaz Sinclair — is a delightful and often camp reimagining of the classic tale told in the ‘90s’ “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” Though the series’ conclusion left (spoiler warning) much to be desired, it nonetheless remains a daring and fun exploit in the mystical world of demons and ghouls galore, centering the women of the narrative at its center as they fight against a patriarchal warlock order.
“The End of the F***ing World”
An entirely unpredictable gem on the streamer, this darkly comic show centers on the relationship between budding psychopath James (Alex Lawther) and rebellious, angsty Alyssa (Jessica Barden) and their unbelievable misadventures. The British series, which includes stellar guest turns from Gemma Whelan, Wunmi Mosaku and Steve Oram, opens as James picks out Alyssa as his first human victim, just as she plans to run away from home. Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Charles Forsman, the show unfolds as the two characters explore their mutual misalignments in the world, in the process forming a singular bond that resists categorization.
Think “Euphoria,” but set in New York City and grounded in realism. Unfortunately, “Grand Army” joins a litany of other Netflix Originals to reach an early grave, canceled at just one season; despite this, it’s a must-watch. Emotional and raw, the high school-set series follows five teens at one of the largest public schools in Brooklyn, each dealing with various trials and tribulations acutely known to adolescents, including the woes of social media, sexual harassment and navigating identity in a stifling educational environment. Follow along as they discover who they are, make terrible decisions and just try to kick back with their friends when the going gets rough.
When Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin) lose their friend Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) one night after a game of Dungeons and Dragons, they do everything they can to search for him. Then they meet Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) a day later, and they are convinced it’s not a coincidence. What follows is not one, not two, but FOUR recurring encounters with an alternate dimension called The Upside Down, that lies beneath their home town of Hawkins, Indiana. The final two episodes of Season 4 arrived in July and ended on a whopping cliffhanger for the fifth and final season.