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Crucial Update

Six Teen TV Shows to Stream While Your Prestige Dramas Are on Summer Break

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Great shows from the spring season have come to an end and the fall lineup is far, far away. Fill the interim with something light on nuance and heavy on hardbodies: Teen television.

Like YA books, these shows are better than ever. Weirdly, MTV has become a haven for excellent programming. Ditto the CW. Even ABC Family merits a chance, which hasn't been the case since Greek left the air. Even when teen TV is bad it can be great, so catch up on canon with the six suggestions below.

Faking It

The premise of Faking It sounds truly terrible: Two best friends pretend to be lesbians to gain popularity at their liberal high school in Austin, Texas. Just really horrific stuff here. The fact that it aired on MTV doesn't inspire much confidence either. But the show treats the coming out process with complexity and levity, and offers a spectrum of teen experiences. It suffers from a few obvious pitfalls (Trigger warning: The end of the first season is pretty upsetting), but it's also the only show that can say bleeping out expletives improved the dialogue. Besides Jerry Springer, maybe.

How to Watch

Stream all of season one on Hulu Plus. A select amount of season one and all of season two are now on

Jane the Virgin

Don't let the fact that this show's primary axis turns on the virginity of its main character deter you. Jane the Virgin, which is often described as a telenovela reboot, but is actually a hilarious and self-aware meta-novela, just had a must-see first season. It's not exactly teen TV, since none of the characters are in high school, but the fact that it airs on the CW gives it a pass. Plus, do-the-right-thing-Jane isn't a bad role model for young adults.

How to Watch

The first two episodes and the last three episodes are unhelpfully available on the CW (Hulu has "Chapter 19" in addition to these). The only other way to stream is purchase from Amazon for $2 an episode.


Misfits might be a dark, young adult British comedy about a group of juvenile delinquents on probation, but it isn't just Skins Goes to Juvie. Each character is–twist!–shackled with super powers from a mysterious electrical storm.

Like Orange Is the New Black, the show includes jumpsuits and characters you may have considered "other" at one time. Like Game of Thrones, there's a whole lot of death. The young offenders tend to handle their newfound invisibility, telepathy, or precognition like any decent TV teen would: irresponsibly, and occasional courageously.

Robert Sheehan, who plays the impish jerk-off, moved on after season two and the show lost a key ingredient of its special sauce. Then after the third season nearly all the other core actors peaced. So while you may be able to stream the whole series on Hulu, it doesn't mean you should. (Bonus for Game of Thrones fans: See Ramsey Bolton in a nerd-turned-heartthrob superhero role that will delight and confuse.)

How to Watch

All six seasons are available on Hulu.

Switched at Birth

Anything this committed to familial angst is worth a hate watch at the very least. Like the title suggests, two teens were switched at birth. The set-up offers plenty of leeway for the show to explore disability (one of the girls is hearing impaired), race, and class issues at varying degrees of candor. Sometimes it's very good and nuanced, sometimes it's the show you'd expect to air on ABC Family, perennial home to The 700 Club.

How to Watch

Stream the first four seasons on Netflix. The fourth season is also available in full on Hulu.


This CW darling follows Mary, Queen of Scots, living and ruling at French court. It'll appeal to lovers of romantic dramas featuring period dress that could double as a Free People catalogue shoot.

Reign is sort of like Game of Thrones, Lite in terms of the gruesome death tally, naked flesh, and family names to keep track of. But the two fantasy dramas share a queen mother driven to evil by love of her offspring, mad kings, and the threat off a mystical something in the not too far off distance. It has just as many, if not more, Hunky Boy Points™, and it gives equal screen time to a woman ruler leading as it does a woman leader husband-hunting. Basically, Reign is a good show to watch while walking on the treadmill. It's a little empowering, very pretty, and dramatically brooding, but it doesn't require your undivided attention.

How to Watch

Stream the first of two seasons on Netflix. Watch the last five episodes of the second season at or on Hulu, and purchase the rest episodes from Amazon or Google Play for $2 a pop.

Teen Wolf

In 2015, werewolves have gone the way vampires–that is, they're yesterday's young adult entertainment fodder. But MTV's Teen Wolf is a frontrunner for induction into the YA canon, and thus merits a watching. This reboot of a Michael J. Fox's horror-comedy launched in 2011, and since then professional and sideline critics alike have called it the "one true heir to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer throne" and "better than I expected for MTV." At the very least it's an angsty, funny teen show riddled with hardbodies. At most, it's a dark, quirky, and very good sci-fi show riddled with hardbodies.

How to Watch

Stream with Amazon Prime.