13 shows for teens and young adultsBrowse full collection
Ahead of Youth Day in South Africa, we take a look at 13 series that aren’t afraid to represent the full experience of setting out to find your place in the world.
Whether they’re rooted in real life or fantasy and magic, these series represent the whole glorious world of possibilities that are open to you as an older teen or young adult. Some are pure fun and some tackle serious issues from bullying to broken hearts. Here are 13 shows that hit the mark.
Oh, the glamour of being young and gorgeous and working at a glossy magazine in New York City. This series is inspired by the real life and times of Cosmopolitan former editor-in-chief Joanna Coles – who serves as an executive producer.
At the core of The Bold Type are Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), Kat Edison (Aisha Dee), and Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy), best friends living in New York City and working for Scarlet, a fictional global women’s magazine, spearheaded by its editor-in-chief, Jacqueline Carlyle (Melora Hardin). The young women navigate their lives in the big city, including their career trajectories and romantic relationships.
If that sounds fluffy, it’s really not. The show takes on some serious issues, from fertility to sexual assault to sexual identity and diversity.
Good news for fans of this remake of the original (1998-2006, achieving cult status) is that it has been renewed for a third season. The Charmed Ones were three sisters, the most powerful good witches of all time. Three is a potent number, everyone knows that. Like their predecessors Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), Prue (Shannon Doherty) and Piper (Holly Marie Combs), the reboot’s trio – Macy (Madeleine Mantock), Mel (Melonie Diaz) and Maggie (Sarah Jeffery) – each has a special power. After the death of their mother, they discover they are the Charmed Ones, destined to protect innocent lives from demons and other dark forces.
A one-season wonder, this series is based on the comic book series of the same name. The setting is the late-1980s, and it revolves around King’s Dominion, an elite private academy where students are trained to become assassins.
Marcus Lopez (Benjamin Wadsworth) is a homeless orphan doing his best to survive on the streets and, as the prime suspect in the burning of an orphanage and the death of dozens of kids, has to avoid the cops at any cost. And you think you’re having a bad day. After a particularly fraught run-in with the law, Marcus is saved by a mysterious girl with a sword who offers him a new life and a new purpose at King’s Dominion.
This series blew minds when it was released almost a year ago. Exquisitely filmed using various techniques, in a nutshell, it follows “a group of teens as they navigate drugs, sex, identity, trauma, social media, love and friendship.” Ironically, it’s for adults only, and carries an extra warning ahead of the HBO intro logo.
This is unlikely to stop anyone younger to watch it, let’s be frank, and as explicit as it is, the topics in Euphoria are relevant to the age group it depicts.
Word is, there is a second season which has begun filming but is now at a standstill.
A Showmax Original, this limited series smashed viewership records on the day it was launched.
The setting is posh girls’ school St Agnes where Lexi Summerveld (Jane de Wet) is found dead on the night of the Valentine’s Day dance. The police rule it as an accident and close the case, but one of Lexi’s teachers, Kate Ballard (Nina Milner) refuses to accept this and relentlessly pursues the truth. During the course of the series, many other shocking secrets are revealed, everyone is affected, and everyone is hiding something.
The suspense and mystery is maintained right up until the very last minutes of the last episode. The series is polished and well-written, and the performances from all the cast members – from veterans to brand newcomers – are superb throughout.
More classic time! Glee comes from the power couple of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, along with Ian Brennan. It’s set in a fictional high school where the glee club is filled with the misfits and weirdos who sing their hearts out all while muddling through teenage angst and romance. The teachers too.
It’s full-on fun in a campy way – stage musicals, hello – but sweet and touching; you might need tissues. Great cast too, with up to 15 main roles. Murphy specifically cast his net for triple threats – those who can sing, dance and act, all at the same time.
Fun fact: a glee club a musical group or choir group, historically of male voices but also of female or mixed voices, which traditionally specialises in the singing of short songs—glees—by trios or quartets.
The spin-off series of The Fosters focuses on Callie Adams Foster (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana Adams Foster (Cierra Ramirez) as they head for a new life in the big city and bright lights of Los Angeles.
“The series introduced rarely depicted characters including an Asian-American lesbian and a bisexual Latinx man as part of its lead ensemble when it premiered, continues to boldly portray the lives of LGBTQ-identified people and people of color,” says Advocate.
Good Trouble was renewed for a third season in January 2020, but along with its stable mate grown-ish, this has been delayed until next year.
This spin-off of black-ish (also on Showmax) moves to a college campus along with eldest daughter Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) as she embarks on her new life and higher education. Obviously, things don’t always go as planned. Luckily, her family is on hand and all of them – including Laurence Fishburne as Pops – make guest appearances.
Zoey has always been a fashionista – she originally intended to become a fashion designer but created her own major, “The Sociology of Fashion” – so Shahidi and costume designer Michelle Cole have some advice for you if you’re new to the show.
The last three episodes of grown-ish Season 3 are Covid-19 fatalities and won’t air until 2021. The series has been renewed for a fourth season.
Clickbait is a thing, and it’s evil. After enjoying season one, there’s nothing worse than opening a link which promises all sorts of information about a second and then turns out to be peppered with “not yet confirmed” and “no date has been set” and the cast “may include” Dafne Keen as Lyra Belacqua, Ruth Wilson as Marisa Coulter, Clarke Peters as The Master, James Cosmo as Farder Coram. Which would be helpful, since they are in the first season.
His Dark Materials is set in a multi-world reality, with the action moving from one world to another. The story begins in an alternate world where all humans have animal companions called daemons, which are manifestations of the human soul.
Set in New Orleans, in this show teenagers Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph) connect even though they come from vastly different backgrounds. Be that as it may, they share a crucial link from the past which resulted in them acquiring certain superpowers which, as is common, manifest themselves when their holders reach adolescence.
As they discover these things about themselves, they also realise they can work better together, and use the powers for good, against evil.
There is a Runaways crossover in Episode 7 of Season 3 of that series.
Based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, Runaways debuted in 2017. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films and other television series of the franchise.
The three-season series revolves around six teenagers from different backgrounds unite against a common enemy – their criminal parents who collectively run a criminal supervillain organisation called Pride. “Not just the cast, but the perfect depiction of teen crisis and life was one of the best attractions of the series,” says Next Alerts.
Seasons 2 and 3 are available to stream on Showmax.
A trio of witches is an image as old as Macbeth, and even older. Here are three more in this young adult dystopian fantasy, set in an alternate, present-day America where witches ended their persecution over 300 years ago by cutting a deal with the government to fight for their country with supernatural tactics and weapons. We follow Tally (South African lass Jessica Sutton), Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams) and Raelle (Taylor Hickson) from their basic training to deployment, as they learn to fight terrorist threats with supernatural tactics and the potent magic of their voices. Thrown together in their unit, the three come from very different backgrounds, but they have one thing in common: they are witches, born and raised for battle… whether they like it or not.
If Rick and Morty seems a little bit like Back to the Future, that’s because it is, having originated from an animated short parody of the film. The series follows the misadventures of cynical mad scientist Rick Sanchez and his good-hearted but fretful grandson Morty Smith, who split their time between domestic life and interdimensional adventures which take place across an infinite number of realities, with the characters travelling to other planets and dimensions through portals and Rick’s flying car.
Showmax is up to date with all four seasons, which have been acclaimed by critics for originality, creativity and humour. It’s been picked up for an additional seventy episodes over an unspecified number of seasons.
This supernatural drama is loosely based on the 1985 film of the same name, of which no teen of this decade will have heard. It starred Michael J Fox, just saying. Who? Okay, never mind. It ran for six seasons and won 13 Teen Choice Awards. Nothing wildly surprising or unique here: Scott McCall is a high school student who becomes a werewolf after he is bitten by an alpha werewolf the night before his second year of high school, drastically changing his once-ordinary life. The bite forces him to balance his new identity with his day-to-day teenage life and eventually help protect his hometown, which he learns is a beacon for supernatural activity.