The Best Dysfunctional-Teen Shows to Stream Right Now

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Photo: Ron Tom/ABC Family via Getty Images

Teens! Those coming-of-age rapscallions! Whether they’re on the hunt to find out if their friend is really dead or just trying to get through high school in one piece, the young-adult experience is rife with dramatic opportunities for television. Yes, some teen shows are far more relatable than others — see the aforementioned “is my friend dead?” narrative — but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyable escapist programming anyway. Below, a list of the very best teen shows that put the fun in dysfunction. Ah, to be young again.

Everything Sucks!

The gist: Party like it’s 1996! Literally, this Netflix show is set in the snoozy town of Boring, Oregon, circa 1996, and follows an interwoven group of high-school students in the A/V and drama clubs who put aside their personal and romantic drama to create a movie for the school. Come for the charming bi-curious sexual awakenings, and stay for the promise of single parents finally finding some true love, too. (Alas, Everything Sucks! was just canceled, so savor each of these episodes while you can.)
Where to watch: Netflix

On My Block

The gist: A quartet of inner-city Angelenos begin high school as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as they can be, but their hopes of a smooth transition are soon tested by the looming duty of gang involvement and the supposed need for “reinvention.” But as long as they have each other’s backs — and continue to spew out fast-talking quips — they’ll keep their block in order like there’s no tomorrow.
Where to watch: Netflix

The Inbetweeners

The gist: Four lads in the suburbs — a sarcastic overachiever, a cynical Everyman, a pathological liar of a misogynist, and a dim sweetheart — would like nothing more than to have dalliances with coeds and yell “bus wankers!” to commuters, but they often seem to forget their rank at the bottom of the social totem pole. Two films followed up this U.K. series, for even more coming-of-age fun.
Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime

The End of the F**king World

The gist: Consider this Netflix series the psychopath’s version of a meet-cute. A lunatic high-schooler begins dating an equally challenging classmate with the intention of killing her — because he’s tired of torturing animals — but when they skip school and embark on a road trip across England to escape their problems, he ends up developing (gasp!) actual feelings for her. If you can’t fall in love while your stolen car explodes on the side of the road, we don’t know what it’ll take, frankly.
Where to watch: Netflix

Pretty Little Liars

The gist: Who is “A”? That’s what you’ll ask yourself again, again, and again as this mystery-thriller extravaganza unfolds over an astounding 160 episodes, as a clique of estranged high-school pals become the target of obsessive — and dare we say creative? — stalking from their seemingly murdered queen bee. One revelation after another makes way for what’s easily the most bizarre teen drama this side of the Mississippi, but not without its fair share of laughs.
Where to watch: Netflix

Awkward

The gist: After an ill-timed chain of events gets mistaken for a suicide attempt upon receiving an anonymous “carefrontation” letter in the mail, a meek high-school girl has to deal with a sudden wave of interest in her personal life — but instead of hiding from the student body, she decides to embrace her newfound popularity and experiment with living outside of her previous comfort zones. She also gets to juggle secretly dating two handsome guys, which is a plus.
Where to watch: Hulu

Skins

The gist: You thought your high-school tenure was bleak? A one-way ticket to witness the lives of Tony, Effy, and their friends will affirm all of the choices you thought were even the slightest bit shitty in your youth, with Skins tackling some of the most taboo topics on television throughout its three “generations” — drug addiction, depression, murder, even more drugs, you name it. The brief moments of cheeky British levity, though, make it all worth it.
Where to watch: Netflix

My Mad Fat Diary

The gist: Returning home from a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt, a spunky girl in mid-’90s Britain turns to writing a diary, jamming to some tunes, and hanging out with her friend group for comfort — only those friends are blissfully unaware of her mental and body-dysmorphia struggles, and think she just went on a nice foreign holiday during her lock-up time. Oh, and she also wants to finally get laid, too.
Where to watch: Hulu

Degrassi: The Next Class

The gist: Because the Degrassi franchise will outlive us all, Netflix’s continuation of Canada’s finest teen drama picks up with all of the high-strung antics you would expect without segueing too much into soapy territory — bullying, teen pregnancy, and plain ol’ academic ennui. If you can’t get enough of these Canadian teens, Degrassi: The Next Generation is also streaming in full on YouTube.
Where to watch: Netflix

Freaks and Geeks

The gist: In the high-school social war between the freaks and the geeks, who will reign supreme? Like it matters. You’ve surely heard fans wax poetic about the dramedy (and complain about how NBC canceled it after only one season), but allow us to provide a brief narrative refresher, anyway. It’s the 1980s in suburban Detroit, and the star-studded older “freaks” and younger “geeks” are just trying to get through high school together, drama and unfairness be damned. What happens when a mathlete begins to roll with the freaky crew, though, is another story entirely.
Where to watch: Netflix

The Best Dysfunctional-Teen Shows to Stream Right Now