HomeOur ObsessionsThe ultimate guide on what to watch on Netflix: Teen edition

The ultimate guide on what to watch on Netflix: Teen edition

To help you navigate your bingewatching escapades as assuredly and confidently as possible, here’s our guide to all the Netflix Originals teen TV shows and movies you’ll want to add to your watchlist immediately – and those that you’ll want to never waste a second on.

The ultimate guide on what to watch on Netflix: Teen edition

We can barely keep up with all the new teen TV shows and movies being added to Netflix at the moment. Not that we’re complaining – the SVOD service boasts some of the best currently on air.

While we could all happily continue using our Netflix accounts to bingewatch Gossip Girl and Riverdale on repeat for the rest of our days, we also think it’s worth looking at some of the original teen content on offer from Netflix too.

There are some gems you’re not going to want to miss. And there’s also some utter dreck that you’re going to want to avoid.

To help you navigate your bingewatching escapades as assuredly and confidently as possible, here’s our guide to all the Netflix Originals teen TV shows and movies you’ll want to add to your watchlist immediately – and those that you’ll want to never waste a second on.

13 Reasons Why

Provocative and endlessly controversial, this devastating teen drama should at least be celebrated for dealing with some difficult and timely issues without patronizing its teen audience.

Though there’s an argument to be made that some particularly challenging scenes can verge on exploitative, overall the show is smartly written and compassionate with some truly heartbreaking messages.

13 Reasons Why further benefits from a diverse set of complex characters and strong performances from a cast including Dylan Minnette, Alisha Boe, and Katherine Langford.

Amateur

Slamming into the dark side of the sports industry, Ryan Koo’s basketball drama focuses on the cynicism behind the court mechanics of amateur athletics.

The story follows a 14-year-old basketball star (Michael Rainey Jr.) as he struggles to navigate life and his talents when he’s recruited by an elite NCAA prep school.

The film features some standout performances from Josh Charles, Sharon Leal, and Corey Parker Robinson, but the hard unique edge of the film (and some of its strongest statements) are softened in a third act full of overdone tropes.

Atypical

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rapaport star in this coming-of-age story about a teenage boy (Keir Gilchrist) as he navigates life on the autistic spectrum.

The show is brimming with sharp writing and powerful performances all round, with the family at the heart of the story proving to be exceptionally likeable – particularly as they recalibrate their worldview on what it means to be normal.

Alex Strangelove

Craig Johnson provides a refreshingly unique take on a teen sex comedy by focusing on a young dude (Daniel Doheny) whose plans to lose his virginity to his girlfriend (Madeline Weinstein) become complicated when he finds himself charmed by an enigmatic gay kid from the other side of town (Antonio Marziale).

The result is a movie full of insight, emotion, and boldly relatable humor rarely seen on the big or small screen. It’s a visceral story about the complication of teenage romance and sexual exploration that offers a lovely, witty, and messy commentary on growing up amid heteronormative expectations.

The Babysitter

There’s a lot of potential in McG’s story about a kid who discovers that his babysitter is actually part of a satanic cult preparing a ghastly sacrifice in his home while he’s sleeping.

Sadly, it never quite lives up to the campy, gory, and riotous heights it could do. Still, it’s a fun way to spend 80 minutes, particularly if you’re a fan of comedy horror and 80s throwbacks.

That’s particularly thanks to Judah Lewis and Samara Weaving who are exceptional as the child and babysitter suddenly and bloodily pitted against each other.

Between

It’s a young adult post-apocalyptic drama series by numbers, but this Canadian drama is still worth a bingewatch if you’re into that sort of thing.

Following a mysterious virus that kills everyone over the age of 22, this survivalist drama hits familiar beats in depicting a young town under quarantine – but its young audiences should find a lot to love here.

Candy Jar

Firstly, this underrated lighthearted comedy gem boasts a phenomenal supporting cast that includes Christina Hendricks, Udo Abuda, and Helen Hunt.

But secondly, Sami Gayle and Jacob Latimore are both sharp and charming as two debate team enemies forced to join forces for the greater good.

It’s a sweet romantic drama that doesn’t break any new ground, but it does go down incredibly easily and is sure to have you catching feelings by the end.

Coin Heist

With Sasha Pieterse leading the cast, you’d hope this film about a teenage heist plan would pack just as much intrigue and fun as Pretty Little Liars did. Sadly, it doesn’t even come close.

While the premise has the right amount of ambition and could be terrific, it lacks any discernible personality or charm and is loaded down with one-dimensional characters who you’ll barely even register, nevermind care about.

Degrassi: Next Class

The Canadian teen drama is quite simply one of the greatest teen dramas on television. It’s consistently well written, features a wealth of complex and diverse characters worth rooting for, and actually features storylines that modern teenagers can relate to.

The show deserves particular celebration for enthusiastically including LGBTQI narratives and doing so with care and realism. Adults with a taste for teen dramas might fail to connect with the show (sorry old timers), but anyone under the age of 18 will definitely get a kick out of it.

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train

Ashleigh Murray and Rachel Crow play two sisters who start (as you may suspect from the title) robbing trains after their mom gets wrongly imprisoned for a minor offense.

Director Sydney Freeland has a lot of fun with the story and maintains a lighthearted humor while sustaining a sense of sympathy and social consciousness around it.

Overall the film tells a weary, downtrodden story in a buoyantly upbeat way, making for a peppy yet significant viewing experience.

Death Note

As an American remake of a Japanese classic, Adam Wingard’s teen horror is a grossly mishandled reimagining of an already well-told tale.

But as an American teen horror, the film actually has a lot of great points with Wingard twisting the volatile nature of the modern high school experience into something altogether far more insidious.

Following a kid (Nat Wolff) who comes across a book with the power to kill any person whose name is written in it, the movie becomes an eerie vigilante story, one that underlines current issues surrounding teen violence.

Dude

From the outside, it’s easy to categorize Olivia Mich’s coming-of-age story as being little more than a stoner comedy featuring a fresh twist of female characters as the ones sparking up and getting high.

But delve a little deeper and you’ll find the movie makes plenty of impressive statements regarding the power of female friendships while depicting older teenager girls with rawness and honesty – they drink, have sex, do drugs, and refuse to be shamed for it.

The film drops some of its earlier lighthearted zeal to deep dive into some heavier territory, lending Dude some unexpected depth with Lucy Hale, Kathryn Prescott, and Alexandra Shipp all bringing their performance game for the film.

The End of the F***ing World

It’s dark, witty, romantic, nihilistic, and violent as hell – it’s also fucking brilliant. S2 of this near-perfect British comedy is currently in development so we urge you to watch S1 immediately if you haven’t already.

The sardonic series stars Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther as a fucked up, pessimistic couple who embark on a road trip with radically different goals in mind. She’s hoping to find her estranged father and he’s hoping to fulfil his psychopathic destiny in killing his new girlfriend.

Though the outline may seem as bleak and bitter as they come, the show is surprisingly endearing and full of unexpected twists, turns, and heartfelt character development that elevate the show well beyond the basic synopsis.

Everything Sucks!

It might have been cancelled after just one season, but we’re still of the opinion that Everything Sucks! most certainly doesn’t suck.

The 90s throwback drama revolves around your standard high school tropes and lends a great deal from Freaks and Geeks. But step beyond the first couple of episodes and you’ll find a show with its own bold voice and a burgeoning originality that we’ll never see the rewards of.

Everything Sucks! features one of the sweetest and most relatable young LGBTQI coming out stories of any teen drama we’ve seen and is a must-see for young queer audiences still searching for representation on screen.

Good Morning Call

The Japanese romantic comedy is an assuredly screwball affair with a delicious taste for the absurd.

The set-up is the stuff of romcom dreams: Two high schoolers from different sides of the popularity spectrum accidentally rent the same apartment together and are forced to share the same space.

Oh, and she just happens to be an awkward dork in love with the popular dreamboat she’s just mistakenly moved in with. As you might expect, a whole lot of calamity and hijinks ensue, but Good Morning Call will also have you absolutely swooning (and craving a lovingly made Bento box).

Greenhouse Academy

Following two teen siblings (Ariel Mortman and Finn Roberts) who discover romance, rivalries, and a whole lot of intriguing mysteries pertaining to the recent loss of their mom, Greenhouse Academy is full of cunning and captivating plotting worth checking out.

The show has sustained a simmering sense of suspense throughout both seasons so far, while still providing the sort of teenage melodrama and occasional silliness that make such shows a hoot to enjoy.

Insatiable

Audiences were rallying against Insatiable before it had even premiered and the majority of critics (including ourselves) seemed to be in agreement that this dark teen comedy is one of the dullest to have ever hit the streaming service.

The show isn’t dark enough to hit the satirical beats it clearly wants to and it also fails to deliver the kind of electric momentum and razor barbs that a teen takedown show clearly demands.

Instead, the Debby Ryan, Dallas Roberts, and Alyssa Milano starring dud is two slices of boring with a thick filling of disappointment that we urge everyone to think better of watching.

The Kissing Booth

Starring Joey King as one of those supremely pretty unpretty girls that seem to exist in every teen comedy, The Kissing Booth is a story about finding first love in one of the worst places – nope, not a Subway bathroom, but in the brother of your bestie!

The film offers some insidious romantic sentiments that revolve around the seriously toxic love interest of the movie – a violent young man who does nothing to earn his girlfriend’s affections. But hey, he’s just misunderstood, right?

Overall, The Kissing Booth is clumsy, lazy, and at times unsettling. Teenagers deserve better stories than this.

Kiss Me First

The British teen cyber thriller hails from the creator of landmark teen series Skins and has a great premise of a lonely gamer (Tallulah Haddon) discovering a whole new world when she meets a party girl with a dark secret (Simona Brown).

Much like the plot itself, some of the VR sequences are a little clunky and demand a great deal of suspension of disbelief on behalf of the audience.

But at the very least, the show captures the lifestyles and concerns of modern teenagers well. It’s just a shame that it mishandles some terrific potential for exploring LGBTQI storylines carefully, compassionately, and with any depth whatsoever.

On My Block

Lauren Iungerich’s latest coming-of-age tale is a wonderfully earnest and occasionally very funny look at four inner-city kids struggling to navigate all the complications of adolescence.

Anchored by strong performances from Sierra Capri, Jason Henao, Brett Gray, and Diego Tinoco (among others) that leap between being extremely moving and extremely hilarious, the show is far more tender and delicate than it at first seems.

The Package

Like a crazed cross between Superbad, There’s Something About Mary, and Weekend at Bernies (if the latter movie concerned a severed dick instead of a gestating corpse), The Package is essentially one dirty joke stretched out over an entire movie.

It truly depends on how long you can sustain your laughter for the one dick joke as to whether you’ll get a rise out of this one. But if you love raucous, raunchy comedies, you can probably do much worse than Jake Szymanski’s newest addition to the genre.

The Rain

The Danish post-apocalyptic drama follows a pack of teenagers as they fight for survival six years after a rain-carried virus has wiped out most of Scandinavia. So far, so very YA.

The premise and the show overall are certainly familiar in various ways, but the story is nonetheless gripping, even if it gets a little drab and repetitive halfway through the first season.

The Rain doesn’t boast as many thrills as it should do, but it’s still entertaining. Particularly if you’re a fan of survival stories with a deep family bond at the core of them.

Stranger Things

While not a straight up teen show, there’s no question that the tense, heartbreaking, and occasionally terrifying stories of adolescence Stranger Things offers up are a core part of what makes the show so appealing.

That’s helped by a set of unique and endearing teen and pre-teen characters played by the most charming kids on television, including Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, and Gaten Matarazzo.

But it’s also because of how powerfully the Duffer Brothers intertwine the struggles of coming-of-age with the otherworldly terrors of The Upside Down. In that respect, Stranger Things is still telling one of the best teen stories on television right now.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Based on Jenny Han’s book of the same name, this might just be the best Netflix Originals teen movie on the streaming service yet.

The impossibly charming story follows a young woman whose secret love letters to every boy she’s ever crushed on are all mysteriously mailed out by her mischievous little sister. The result is some unexpected romance, some major drama, and some wonderfully adorable comedy.

The film plays out like a love letter to 90s teen dramas like Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You while pushing the capabilities of the teen movie forward.

It may even feature one of the most charming young casts assembled on screen in recent memory, with Lana Condor, Janel Parrish, Noah Centineo, Anna Cathcart, and Israel Broussard all adding irresistible dimensions to the characters. Plus John Corbett as a dad!! What a treat.

Share With:

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer who occasionally moonlights as a hapless punk musician. She’s written about pop culture for websites like Bustle, i-D, and The Mary Sue, and is the co-creator of Clarissa Explains F*ck All. She likes watching horror movies with her cat and eating too much sugar.

amy@filmdaily.co