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Shows Like Skins That Dramedy Fans Need To See

The 2007 British show "Skins" brought viewers into the ups and downs of a group of teenage friends. Romance, friendship, heartbreak, and parties (so many parties) were tackled in this series that looked at the hidden (and often hedonistic) sides of the teenage experience. The format of "Skins" was something new: each episode focused on a different protagonist in a friend crew and each group of friends got two seasons. Father-and-son writing team Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain created "Skins" after Brittain told his father to write "a show about teenagers, but one that actually means something." 

Unlike American shows, which have a penchant for casting model-esque 30-somethings as high schoolers, "Skins" used actual teenagers with little acting experience to capture the rawness of this tumultuous time of life. "Skins" didn't just employ young people in front of the camera; the average age of the "Skins" writers was 22 (Daniel Kaluuya wrote on the show when he was just 18). This respect for the teenage voice launched the show and some of its actors into success (Nicholas Hoult, Dev Patel, Daniel Kaluuya, and Kaya Scodelario, to name a few). 

"Skins" tackled themes of self-destruction, self-celebration, platonic love as well as romantic love, what it means to be family, and more, and did it all with a most excellent soundtrack. So if you're jonesing for another teen show or for a nostalgic kick of the perfect house party, check out these series that are sure to excite any fan of "Skins."


Julie Andem's 2015 series "Skam" ("Shame" in English) is Norway's answer to "Skins." Each season follows the trials and tribulations of a different main character from a friend group but unlike "Skins," "Skam" made use of the power of social media to become a juggernaut in Norway and around the world. Since its release, there have been iterations of "Skam" all around the world, including Spain, Germany, and France. There was also a US remake called "SKAM Austin." The show was released online every Friday and in the days leading up to new episodes, fans could watch clips, follow the characters' social media in real time, and become totally engaged with the world of "Skam."

Season protagonists Eva (Lisa Teige), Noora (Josefine Frida Pettersen), Isak (Tarjei Sandvik Moe), and Sanaa (Iman Meskini) caught the attention of audiences both young and old (okay, 30-somethings), who related to the show's themes of sexuality and sexual identity, religion, peer pressure, and mental health issues, among others. Creator and showrunner Julie Andem took a teenage-focused approach to this series as she intensively interviewed teenagers to figure out what young folks would like to see in a series. The show works for teenagers and adults alike, so if you're looking for a teenage show that blends realism with melodrama and comedy (plus has a killer soundtrack to boot; the Scandinavians really do know how to make pop music), check out "Skam."


"Euphoria" is perhaps the American show that most closely captures both the destructive and celebratory spirit of "Skins." Loosely based on an Israeli mini-series of the same name, "Euphoria" follows Rue (Zendaya), a 17-year-old who's just returned home from time in rehab for her drug use. Rue is anxious about jumping back into her high school world but her friendship with Jules (Hunter Schafer), a trans girl who just moved to town, gives her a new perspective and capacity to deal with anything.

Like "Skins," "Euphoria" is at once a glossy and gritty look at the lives of a group of teenagers. The ensemble cast includes Maude Apatow, Barbie Ferreira, and Jacob Elordi, among others, who make up the fabric of Rue's world. These characters are no strangers to sex, drugs, and social media, and the show follows their lives with dizzying effect. "Euphoria" was a hit with audiences as it portrayed the ups and downs of mental health, the confusing spaces of power in sexual dynamics, and the sometimes blurred lines of close intimate friendships. Plus its representation of BIPOC and queer characters elevates it to a more modern and in some ways, real look at the lives of American teenagers.  

Sex Education

Perhaps it won't be surprising to learn that "Sex Education" is a show about sex education. Otis (Asa Butterfield) lives in a small town with his mom, Dr. Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson), who is a renowned sex therapist. Otis' version of teenage rebellion is to do the opposite of his sex-positive, promiscuous mother; he's ambivalent about sex, until he befriends Maeve (Emma Mackey), an independent lone wolf. Mave discovers Otis' listening skills, combined with his knowledge of sex gleaned from his mother, and she realizes there's a business opportunity here. She and Otis set up a secret sex clinic at school to educate and help their peers with their never-ending stream of sex-related issues.

"Sex Education" takes a softer approach to teenage life than "Skins" but it still captures that world realistically. While the show centers around sex, its primary concern is the emotional sides of these characters and their relationships with each other. The ensemble cast is fantastic, with characters like Eric (Ncuti Gatwa), Otis' gay best friend who feels too big for this town, and Aimee (Aimée Lou Wood), a naive but surprisingly deep popular girl. The premise of a teenage sex clinic may sound strange but it works, thanks to the solid writing and chemistry of the cast. Plus, the series actually is educational and perhaps shows that the best way to teach people is by doing it through a TV show where you're so engrossed, you don't even realize you're learning at all.

Freaks and Geeks

"Freaks and Geeks" has attained a near legendary status as a perfect single-season show. Created by Paul Feig and executive produced by Judd Apatow (before anyone knew who they were), this series follows a group of Detroit high schoolers in 1980. We're introduced to the "freaks" via Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini), a former mathlete who wants to shed her nerdy roots and hang out with slackers Daniel (James Franco), Nick (Jason Segel), Ken (Seth Rogen), and Kim (Busy Phillips). Meanwhile, Lindsay's younger brother, Sam (John Francis Daley), is leader of the "geeks" as he and his two best friends navigate their freshman year of high school.

"Freaks and Geeks" struggled to find an audience when it was on the air, in part because NBC didn't seem to know what to do with it. The network shuffled the show around different time slots and eventually canceled "Freaks and Geeks" after one season. But it found a new life with late-night reruns and DVD releases as people discovered themselves in the authenticity of this group of teenagers. "Freaks and Geeks" is the Paul Feig/Judd Apatow brand before it took off: a mix of laugh-out-loud comedy, sweetness, compassion, and themes like love, loss, and the pressure to be someone you're not. The show has been included on several lists of the best television shows ever and whether a freak or a geek, audiences have continued to turn to it as a beloved snapshot of a sometimes wonderful, often terrible time of life.

Everything Sucks!

"Everything Sucks!" Is a comedy-drama that leans into a modern-day love of nostalgia and the '90s. Set in 1996, the show centers around Luke (Jahi Di'Allo Winston), a cinefile freshman who joins the A/V club to pursue his dream of making a movie in the small town of Boring, Oregon (yes, it's a real place). Luke starts crushing on Kate (Peyton Kennedy), a sophomore and the principal's daughter, who is in the A/V club and dealing with her own secret feelings for Emaline (Sydney Sweeney, who can also be seen in "Euphoria"), a drama club member. Worlds collide when the A/V and drama clubs team up to make Luke's movie and in the process, the characters learn things about themselves and each other that they never imagined.

"Everything Sucks!" captures the '90s spirit with its teen angst and bring-you-back soundtrack and stands out among teen series with its focus on a main character's coming out. Kate's pining for Emaline and her questioning of herself can resonate with anyone (queer or not) who has gone through the big and confusing emotions of falling in love in high school. The series also focuses on the friendship between Luke and Kate as they learn how to support and accept each other as they are. Like "Freaks and Geeks," "Everything Sucks!" was canceled after just one season but luckily, it doesn't suck at all.


"Elite" is a Spanish teen drama that combines a murder mystery with the typical teen tropes of friendship, jealousy, sex, and partying. The series follows three working-class friends — Samuel (Itzan Escamilla), Nadia (Mina El Hammani), and Christian (Miguel Herrán) — who get scholarships to a private school filled with wealthy kids. These characters initially struggle to fit in and be accepted by their entitled peers but eventually, they find their places in this elite world. The first season flashes forward to an investigation into the murder of Marina (María Pedraza), a rich and popular girl at the school, with each subsequent season featuring two timelines.

Although "Elite" is very much a Spanish show that deals with themes and a culture specific to Spain, it also transcends borders and has found an international audience with viewers and critics alike (the first season has a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes). While the setting in a wealthy private school and its melodramatic aspects align the series with a show like "Gossip Girl," "Elite" also grounds itself by dealing with serious themes. It explores the power of female pleasure, the reality of class differences, particularly when people are coming out as gay, and the gray area of abortion as a pro-life character chooses to support her friend's choice in getting an abortion. These are just a few of the issues that "Elite" tackles and part of what make it one of the best guilty-pleasure shows around.

The Misfits

"The Misfits" takes a sci-fi approach to teen angst, bringing the emotions and experiences of adolescence to a strange and fantastic place. This British series follows a group of five juvenile offenders who are sentenced to do community service. One day, they're caught outside the community center during a supernatural storm, which gives them superpowers. Suddenly, these ordinary teens become extraordinary as they gain the power of telepathy, rewinding time, invisibility, and sending people into a sexual frenzy with just a touch. These misfits struggle to control their powers and figure out how to live in this world, which was already tough enough before.

In some ways, "The Misfits" is like the sci-fi version of "Skins." Certainly, the characters' superpowers lend themselves to different situations, but these friends are also dealing with the same issues as the gang of "Skins:" self-acceptance, changing bodies (and identities), sexual empowerment, and the ups and downs of friendship and love. Featuring a talented and diverse cast, the show stands out for its weirdness and biting humor as the creators make use of all the different ways superpowers can be used. If you're looking for something new and off-beat, join the community service crew of "The Misfits."

Young Royals

"Young Royals" is another addition to the wealthy international teen genre as it follows the Swedish Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding), who is sent to boarding school after his wild antics get shared on social media. Wilhelm isn't exactly out of place in his new school — his older brother went there as well — but he still feels like an outsider due to his royal status. However, outside of the bubble of the royal family, Wilhelm finally gets the chance to discover who he is: Amidst his new friendships and classes and parties, he discovers that he's falling in love with Simon (Omar Rudberg), a secret that he has to keep to protect the image of his family.

"Young Royals" uses the confined space of an elite boarding school to explore Wilhelm's own confined space as he struggles against his family's expectations of him and his expectations of himself regarding his sexuality and position as the heir apparent to the throne. The series focuses on Wilhelm's budding romance with the openly gay Simon, chronicling the tension between the two as they explore their love but discover that they're coming to it from different places. Like "Skins," "Young Royals" shows audiences a recognizable world, even within the privileged space of this boarding school, so if you're looking for a well-made queer teen show, look no further than "Young Royals."


"Awkward" is MTV's best answer to "Skins" (and yes, we're including MTV's actual remake of "Skins" in that) as it captures the, well, awkwardness of high school. Jenna (Ashley Rickards) is an unpopular outcast who is suddenly thrust into the limelight after a freak accident is mistaken for a suicide attempt. Suddenly, everyone knows who she is, including queen of the mean girls, Sadie (Molly Tarlov). Jenna takes the opportunity to live differently and change the narrative of her life; much to her and everyone else's surprise, she becomes popular in the process.

"Awkward" takes a more humorous approach to the teenage experience than "Skins" but its great ensemble cast and grounding in the pain, longing, and love that can make up high school connect it to the latter show. "Awkward" can be biting and laugh-out-loud funny (you'll never say "you're welcome" the same again) and at the same time, it can resonate as Jenna's journey of self-discovery is one for teenagers and adults alike.

Love, Victor

"Love, Victor" is a comedy-drama that continues on in the world of the film, "Love, Simon" (which was based on the book "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" by Becky Albertalli). Victor (Michael Cimino) is a Puerto Rican, Colombian-American teen who starts his new school in Atlanta, Georgia. Victor deals with family issues while navigating life in his new school, where he struggles with his sexuality. With the help of Simon (Nick Robinson), who narrates the series, Victor begins to embrace his true self and all the parts that comprise it.

Following the success of "Love, Simon," writers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger saw an opportunity to explore the story of a teenager discovering his sexuality in a deeper way. Victor wants to fit in and does everything he can to do that, but it takes its toll on him and his relationships. Similarly to "Skins," the series shows Victory's journey as he leans on a community of people who love and support him but who also challenge him and try to help him do the right thing. The sincerity of "Love, Victor" situates it in a somewhat different realm than "Skins" but regardless, the show is a realistic look at the struggles of self-acceptance that plague most teenagers, gay or not.

The InBetweeners

"The InBetweeners" is a British comedy about a group of four friends navigating their last years of high school. Will (Simon Bird) transfers to public school after his mother is unable to pay his old private school tuition. Anxious to not be labeled a "freak," Will befriends a group of boys whose social standing is slightly above the freaks. There's Simon (Joe Thomas), the insecure one; Jay (James Buckley), the wannabe lothario and legend; and Neil (Blake Harrison), the gullible one. Together, they set their sights on goals such as finding girlfriends, drinking beer, and making it out of high school in one piece.

"The InBetweeners" came out in 2008, just one year after "Skins," and its initial reception was lukewarm. However, some critics noted that it was more realistic than "Skins" as it focuses on the ordinary reality of adolescence, rather than the glamorized decadence embodied by "Skins." Over time, the series has become a national treasure of sorts and one of the most successful British sitcoms of this century. The show's enduring popularity lies in its biting humor and ordinariness — there are no chisel-jawed 20-somethings playing teenagers here. It's just a group of regular boys living in a regular suburban town, trying to get some laughs and beers.

Sugar Rush

"Sugar Rush" is a British comedy about a teenage girl who's in love with her (straight) best friend. 15-year-old Kim (Olivia Hallinan) moves from London to the south coast of England, where she strikes up a friendship with Sugar (Lenora Crichlow), a wild teenager who likes partying and having sex. Kim starts falling in love with Sugar and their friendship becomes co-dependent as Kim is willing to do anything for Sugar, who is heterosexual and uninterested in her friend but enjoys the attention. All the while, Kim must deal with her dysfunctional family at home, leading to a life that feels more chaotic than not.

"Sugar Rush" is based on Julie Burchill's novel of the same name and focuses on the often confusing space of friendships between teenage girls. The lines of intimacy and self can often be blurred as charismatic characters like Sugar can make other girls wonder whether they want to be her or be with her. For Kim, perhaps it's a little bit of both as she falls deeper into Sugar's wild world and the show addresses this dynamic, plus Kim's self-discovery, with a mix of humor and gravity.

Once and Again

"Once and Again," from 1999, is the oldest inclusion on this list and it's one that doesn't just revolve around the lives of teenagers. But its portrayal of teenage life situates it in the realm of "Skins." The series follows Lily (Sela Ward), a recently single mother of two, who starts a relationship with Rick (Billy Campbell), a single father of two teenagers played by Shane West and Evan Rachel Wood. Not surprisingly, there is quite a bit of tension with the merging of these families. Family is at the heart of the show as these former strangers learn to live together and take care of each other, but "Once and Again" also focuses heavily on the lives of the kids who make up this family. The show deals with themes like mental health issues, eating disorders, abuses of power, and sexual orientation via its exploration of its teenage characters.

While "Once and Again" can perhaps be seen as a predecessor to later shows like "This Is Us" or "Brothers and Sisters," its realistic look at family dynamics and the life of teenagers both in and outside their homes makes it a worthy option for any "Skins" fan. The show doesn't go into the hedonistic world of sex, drugs, and parties like "Skins" but it still approaches similar issues in a deep, grounded way. Whether you're a fan of "Skins" or series like "My So-Called Life" and "thirtysomething" (both produced by "Once and Again" co-creator Edward Zwick), check out "Once and Again" at least once. And maybe again.

The Bold Type

Sarah Watson's "The Bold Type" brings viewers into the glamorous world of a New York fashion magazine. Inspired by the life and career of Joanna Coles, the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan (who executive produces the show), the series follows three 20-something friends working at Scarlet magazine. Jane (Katie Stevens) is a thoughtful journalist whose best friends are Kat (Aisha Dee), a queer social media director, and Sutton (Meghann Fahy), an aspiring fashion designer who's paying her dues as an assistant. They're all mentored by the magazine's founder, Jacqueline (Melora Hardin), as they navigate their personal and professional lives while trying to have fun.

"The Bold Type" brings inevitable comparisons to "The Devil Wears Prada," but unlike that film, this series takes a far gentler approach to the fashion world with its focus on the characters' friendship above all. Jacqueline is a mentor, not a monster, who believes in building people up instead of breaking them down. The series doesn't have the grittiness of "Skins," but its cast deals with real issues and benefits from having palpable chemistry and charisma, like the friends in "Skins." The characters of "The Bold Type" are older than those in "Skins," so the show focuses on their careers and the questions of how to stay true to themselves while discovering what they want. Themes like sexual assault, professional integrity, illness, and sexual orientation are all touched on in this series that should delight any fan of "Skins" — or quality television in general.