15 Of The Best YA Movies And Shows On Streaming

From fantasy to romance, here are some of the best movies and TV shows in the young adult genre that are currently streaming

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The lives of young adults have such a vast emotional canvas that stories around that awkward age have morphed into their own genre. YA movies and TV shows have the unique potential to spin narratives around growth in any setting possible. The best of these are the ones that combine vulnerability, relatability and optimism to create touching depictions that audiences can see themselves in. From fantasy to romance, here are some of the best movies and TV shows in the young adult genre that are currently streaming.

On My Block

Streaming on: Netflix

This 2018 Netflix comedy took everyone by surprise when it was released. It follows the story of four teenagers in gritty South Central Los Angeles, far away from the usual glamour and pristine associated with the city. The ensemble cast has great chemistry with each other, successfully nailing all the emotional and comedic moments. On My Block doesn’t sugarcoat reality, digging into issues of racism, gang violence, sexuality and deportation. Watch it for its honest and endearing portrayal of communities that are seldom represented on our screens.

Dickinson

Streaming on: Apple TV+

If the life and times of legendary English poet Emily Dickinson don’t seem like entertaining teen television fodder to you, this Apple TV+ series starring Hailee Steinfeld will prove you wrong. Described as a ‘fictional biographical account’, the series builds on decades of research into the poet’s life and translates it into irreverent comedy, complete with millennial slang and an EDM heavy soundtrack. The show follows her obsession with death in her poetry and her romance with her friend, Sue. Teenage drama and wild parties ensue, and Emily’s poetry provides just the right amount of depth.

Reservation Dogs

Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

From Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit director Taika Waititi, the show is about teenagers in a petty crime gang in Oklahoma who are trying to save enough money to move to California. With an almost entirely Indigenous cast, the show is delightfully light and finds its comedy in the more absurd moments in life.

Also read: Reservation Dogs, on Disney+Hotstar, is Rebellious, Warm and Sincere

Freaks and Geeks

Streaming on: Netflix

An underrated gem at the time of its release, this 90s show has a cult following now. The entire ensemble cast has gone on to have successful careers and watching their performances here, you’ll know why. The story revolves around Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) who is trying to shed her geek image to be one of the freaks. Freaks and Geeks became a blueprint for the genre with its sensitive storytelling and bold writing choices.

Outer Banks

Streaming on: Netflix

This sun-soaked American drama takes you to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Four teenagers (who call themselves the Pogues) look for a legendary sunken treasure and try to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of the protagonist’s father. Outer Banks grounds its mystery and suspense with an honest portrayal of class differences, small town life and teenagers in today’s world. The characters are instantly relatable and love triangles aside, you will find yourself rooting for the Pogues’ earnest friendships.

The Half of It

Streaming on: Netflix

Netflix releases several shallow teen movies every year, but The Half of It stands out. The plot revolves around Ellie, a Chinese-American teen in a small town, who feels like an outsider. When one of the jocks at her school, Paul, asks her to write love letters to help him woo his crush, Aster, she’s suddenly pulled into the throes of high school life and finds herself falling for Aster too. What’s refreshing about the film is that it depicts the heartbreak of losing a best friend, focusing on Ellie and Paul’s friendship.

Also read: The Half of It Is The Definitive Feel-Good Tragedy Of Our Times

Love, Simon

Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

Simon has spent his teenage years hiding his sexuality from his friends and family, but when he finds that there might be another queer person, he finds himself longing for freedom and love. And then his emails with the other person leak, leaving him to deal with the fallout of being outed. Love, Simon explores insecurities, family, friendships and sexuality with just the right amount of humour and drama, making it a young adult classic.

Eighth Grade

Streaming on: Netflix

Written and directed by comedian Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade follows Kayla, as she tries to survive the last week of eighth grade, buckling under her insecurities and the impossible expectations of growing up on the internet. Empathetic and heartbreaking, the film will definitely take you back to your own teenage self.

The Hate U Give

Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

Based on Angie Thomas’ hit novel, The Hate U Give seems like a usual teen drama at first glance with friendship politics, growing pains and crushes. But then protagonist Starr Carter’s childhood friend is shot by the police at a party, right in front of her. The pressures of adolescence, fitting in, and the overwhelming racism in American life are all exposed as Starr processes the life-altering incident.

Twenty Five Twenty One (Korean)

Streaming on: Netflix

Set in 1998, this Korean drama centers on teenage fencing athlete Na Hee-Do and her friends as they step into the real world in a time of economic turmoil. Hee-Do has to transfer schools because the Korean IMF crisis has forced her school to cut the entire fencing team. “The times killed your dreams, the school didn’t”, her coach tells her. The series is sweet and hopeful, as she and her friends find joy, love and success, even as they’re forced to take on the economic burdens of their families. Kim Tae-Ri is incredibly charming as the naive and ambitious Na Hee-Do, and you’ll find yourself cheering for her on and off the fencing floor.

June (Malayalam)

Streaming on: Hotstar

June is on a solo trip when we meet her at the beginning of the movie, and in a series of flashbacks, we find out what has led her here. This coming-of-age film is drenched in nostalgia of every kind. The characters from her high school days will remind you of people you knew as a teenager. But the film stays fresh by focusing on the female protagonist and her contemplations of who she is as a person.

Also read: Southern Lights: On ‘June’ And The Pleasures Of Even Not-So-Great Malayalam Cinema

Young Royals (Swedish)

Streaming on: Netflix

Following a scandal, the royal family makes Prince Wilhelm go to Hillerska, a private boarding school. He tries very hard to not fit in, but finds himself falling for a classmate. Young Royals is not very different from most teen dramas, but the intensity of the story and its characters will pull you in. With only six episodes, the first season is perfect for a binge.

Shadow and Bone

Streaming on: Netflix

No list of YA recommendations is complete without a fantasy book adaptation. Shadow and Bone is adapted from Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grishaverse books, combining magic, international politics, and heists in one exciting adventure. The mythology is a bit complex at first, but once you’re immersed in the world, you won’t want to step out.

Also read: Everything You Need To Know About The Netflix Series Shadow And Bone

Ragnarok (Danish)

Streaming on: Netflix

This Danish show brings Norse mythology to the modern world. The fictional town of Edda is at the center of some bizarre climate patterns, facing the threat of melting glaciers and global warming. Saving Edda is up to a teenager who is gifted with the powers of Thor, the Norse god of thunder and lightning. The coming-of-age series combines high stakes with teenage drama to make for a gripping watch.

3% (Brazilian)

Streaming on: Netflix

In this dystopian commentary on distribution of wealth, only three percent of the population live comfortably. The rest live in extreme poverty. Every year, those coming of age are invited to complete a series of tests known as “The Process” for the chance to live in paradise, if they can survive.

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