Growing up is a tough business, and one of the toughest things about it is feeling alone. Puberty means going through tons of physical and emotional changes - and that can be surprisingly scary. Kids can begin to feel like they're starting to figure themselves out, despite having a long way to go. It's a time of life that means realizing certain things about the world that will be eye-opening... and maybe even heartbreaking.
Many adults credit their favorite TV shows for helping them get through the rough times. Seeing beloved characters on TV go through similar trials and tribulations is somehow comforting - or seeing them go through more dramatic things puts things in perspective. Some fan-favorite coming-of-age shows help viewers think about how they’d react in certain situations and taught everyone about staying safe as well as happy. Needless to say, these sorts of shows can shape a childhood for the better.
So what coming-of-age shows are out there now? Check out this list to discover titles the whole family can watch on Netflix right now. From classic family sitcoms to modern shows that tackle controversial issues, there’s something for everyone on this list, whether they're going through puberty at the moment or have already been there, done that.
10 Sex Education
Anyone who’s been to an American high school knows the sex education can be a little bit lacklustre. And that problem is exemplified in this hit Netflix show.
It follows the story of socially awkward high school student Otis who, while he’s never had much hands-on experience in the lovemaking department, knows a lot since his mom is a sex therapist. This leads him to use his insider knowledge to educate his fellow classmates. Before long, Otis has set up an underground sex therapy clinic, which is just as hilarious as it sounds.
The show’s first season premiered only this January, so fans will have to wait a while before the second one debuts.
9 Degrassi: Next Class
Canadian teenagers have been growing up with Degrassi ever since the first version of the hit teen drama premiered in the ‘90s. A few years ago, Netflix purchased the rights to the show from Netflix and rebranded it as Degrassi: Next Class.
But just like its earlier counterpart, the show continues to explore relevant teen issues in a realistic way. It’s touched on everything from LGBTQ+ issues and unplanned pregnancies, to discrimination and terrorism. The show is known for its diverse casting decisions and desire to talk about controversial subjects.
It’s a must-watch for anyone navigating the waters of high school or just beginning to learn about themselves.
8 Big Mouth
Big Mouth is one of Netflix’s newest animated sitcoms created by Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, and Mark Levin. The show is based on Kroll and Goldberg’s childhoods and follows their time as teens living in Westchester County, New York.
Since its 2017 debut, Big Mouth has received critical acclaim. Both its first and second seasons have received approval ratings of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and its third season only premiered last February.
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Be warned, however - just because the show deals with coming-of-age topics, it’s not for young viewers. Big Mouth has received attention for its controversial humor and explicit language, so it’s not for the faint (or young) of heart.
7 The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina
In the reboot of the ‘90s sitcom, Sabrina must reconcile her half-witch, half-mortal nature against the evil forces threatening her and her loved ones. The show is meant to parallel the hurdles teens face in high school and their pre-pubescent years, but of course with a trendy supernatural twist to it. Plus, with the adorable Kiernan Shipka playing the lead, fans are likely to love this dark drama.
Oh, if only witches and werewolves were real. That would make high school a lot more interesting.
6 Derry Girls
Anyone who’s been to a private British school (or just wishes they had!) has got to check out Derry Girls. This brilliant British sitcom follows a group of girlfriends as they grow up in Northern Ireland in the ‘90s, which means their everyday life is filled with armed police and army checkpoints. Despite the exciting backdrop, the show still navigates the typical highs and lows of being a teenage girl. Viewers will likewise appreciate the witty sense of humor and developed characters, who make the audience root for them despite all of their slip-ups. The second season is set to air soon, so fans should keep their eyes peeled.
5 The Fosters
There are few teen-friendly shows that choose to deal with the foster care system. And that’s exactly what makes The Fosters so unique.
The show follows two married women who are moms to several foster kids (some of whom they’re in the process of adopting). The Fosters explores all the typical teenage clichés, like unplanned pregnancies, substance abuse, and cheating, but its representative cast gives it a fresh update.
The Fosters originally debuted in 2013. After five seasons, it came to an end in June 2018. But it did inspire a spinoff called Good Trouble, which is definitely a must-watch if fans liked the original!
4 Gilmore Girls
All girls in middle school and high school should be required to watch Gilmore Girls! The show paints an accurate portrait of what it’s like to be a young girl going through high school and then college - except it’s set in a super cute town with brilliant characters, that is.
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Gilmore Girls follows the story of teenager Rory, who’s been raised by her single mom Lorelai. Her overbearing grandparents come back into their lives when Lorelai needs help paying for her daughter’s school, and then comes a load of other adventures. From navigating college admissions to first love, the only thing that’s unrelatable is how much coffee Lorelai let Rory drink.
3 On My Block
On My Block debuted on Netflix only last March, but fans are already calling it a masterpiece - which is likely why the second season just debuted this month. The teen drama is a coming-of-age story that follows four young friends as they navigate high school in inner-city Los Angeles (which is anything but posh).
The first season of On My Block gained an approval rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, with many fans praising it for bringing attention to underrepresented communities.
2 American Vandal
Fans of satire will appreciate the golden humor featured in American Vandal!
The show follows an aspiring student documentarian and his pal as they try to discover who’s responsible for a series of high school pranks. In the process, they learn that the lemonade at a local Catholic school is contaminated with laxatives. Viewers are left in suspense over who’s the culprit until the end of the series.
This true crime parody originally debuted on Netflix in 2017, although it was canceled in 2018 after two seasons. However, rumor has it that the show’s creators are currently looking for a new channel to air their show. So season three could definitely be a real thing.
1 H20: Just Add Water
H20 is one of the more child-friendly picks on this list. Its target audience is pre-teens and young teens, considering that it’s a show about mermaids. But once viewers see past the fairy tale façade, it’s easy to see that many of the challenges the characters face are meant to parallel real world coming-of-age struggles. H20 tells the tale of three Australian besties with one large secret- they’re mermaids! Not only do they have to brave the halls of high school, but they have to do so while hiding their magic abilities and true identities (which is harder than it sounds).