Being a teenager is hard. Making a show about being a teenager even more so.
Plenty of filmmakers have tried to commit the teenage experience to screen. Few have succeeded.
Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why managed it, setting the internet alight in 2017 when its story of high school anxiety and suicide struck a chord with viewers.
With season two about to drop online any time now, check out the other teen movies and TV shows that you need to watch first…
The Breakfast Club
When it comes to representing the teenage experience, John Hughes is the master. The late director’s films have become synonymous with being a high school kid. His movies come and go on Netflix, with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off recently removed. But The Breakfast Club is still there.
Arguably the director’s greatest and most loved work, its complex exploration of the drama and pressures of teenage life are timeless and there’s never been a better time to explore the film through modern eyes. One thing’s for sure, we won’t forget about this one. Watch on Netflix
When the announcement was made that a dark, brooding drama based on the Archie comics was getting made, many laughed at the idea. Riverdale turned the tables on everybody with its tale of murder and mystery. The show has the same soap-like qualities as Twin Peaks but all filtered through the lens of modern teen movies, creating something that feels fascinating, gripping and, above all, completely addictive. Watch on Netflix
Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater, the director of the Oscar-nominated Boyhood, singlehandedly invented the so-called ‘hang-out’ film with Dazed and Confused. Named after the Led Zeppelin song, the film follows a group of teens on the last day of high school as they party their troubles away. Starring a young Matthew McConaughey in a role he was born to play, Linklater’s movie went on to leave an indelible mark on 90s culture with its rock and roll soundtrack and gonzo dialogue. Watch on Netflix
If you’re looking for something to binge watch while you wait for the new season of 13 Reasons Why, there’s nothing better than Skins. The show deals with the trials and tribulations of being a teenager in Bristol, refreshing its characters every few series to explore new and more complex issues. The young cast is now a who’s who of British acting talent, from Daniel Kaluuya to Dev Patel. Watch on Netflix
Everybody Wants Some!!
The spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! is another masterpiece of teenage hedonism. The story follows a group of freshmen navigating the first week college where they party, play baseball and have summertime flings – all before classes start. It’s a neon-soaked adventure filled with dancing, drinking and self-discovery all set to a soundtrack consisting of The Knack and Van Halen. Watch on Netflix
Wet Hot American Summer
Wet Hot American Summer is a send-up of the traditional tropes seen in the teen movies of the 90s. By casting a group of adults, including Bradley Cooper and Parks and Recreations’ Amy Poehler, the film parodies the teen movie formula that films like Clueless had invented. If you love the 2001 comedy, then you can also check out the two seasons of the Netflix series which reunites the cast for more craziness and frivolity. Watch on Netflix
Netflix has an impressive track record in discovering new talent and turning them into overnight stars. 13 Reasons Why did it with Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette, and the Stranger Things kids are now some of the most in demand stars in Hollywood.
They deserve everything they get, with their story of Dungeons and Dragons-playing teens battling real-world pain both sweet tense and terrifying in equal measure. Watch on Netflix
1999 was a strange year for teen movies. They were either raucous comedies in the vein of American Pie or they were hard hitting dramas like Boys Don’t Cry. No film balanced between comedy and drama as well as Cruel Intentions. Watch on Netflix
Adventureland is an often overlooked romantic comedy about two teens working at a local amusement park. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart play characters in between adolescence and adulthood who fall for each other as they operate various theme park attractions in the park. From Superbad director Greg Mottola, the film is as hilarious as it is insightful with a cast of true comedy heavyweights. Watch on Netflix