The Best Teen Drama Shows Streaming on HBO Max 

Whether you’re the cool kid or an outsider, high school is an unforgettable time that undeniably leaves scars for better or for worse. A time for self-discovery, first love, and debauchery, teen drama television series have become a staple within the medium for the better part of the past 25 years and created some unforgettable characters in the process. Looking back on some of the best high school set dramas from the 2000s and beyond is a nostalgic time capsule for simpler times, and HBO Max is host to some of the greatest of all time. Whether you’re in the mood for backstabbing Upper East Siders or angst-filled superheroes, here’s your guide to the best teen dramas streaming on HBO Max right now.

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Creators: Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage

Cast: Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Chase Crawford, Ed Westwick, Taylor Momsen

The boom of glossy, teen dramas during the 2000s was major, and The CW’s Gossip Girl takes the cake as the most glamorous. Following Upper East Side’s elite teens, Blake Lively is Serena Van Der Woodsen and Leighton Meester is her best friend turned nemesis, Blair Waldorf. As they battle to become the queen bee at school, they must also combat the rumors spread by the anonymous blogger Gossip Girl (voiced by Kristen Bell), as she spreads the high schoolers’ deepest darkest secrets for all the world to read.

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Gossip Girl (2021-present)

Image Via HBO

Creators: Joshua Safran

Cast: Jordan Alexander, Whitney Peak, Tavi Gevinson, Eli Brown, Thomas Doherty

The Gossip Girl reboot is here, and its messier and flashier than ever. A new crew of kids are ruling the elite Upper East Side private school, and they make the teachers lives a living hell. Jordan Alexander stars as Queen Bee Julien Calloway, and everything gets shaken up when her estranged half-sister from the wrong side of the tracks, Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak), starts attending the school. Gossip Girl, once again narrated by Kirsten Bell, is resurrected by a group of fed-up teachers, and they cross an infinite number of lines as they pursue revenge.

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Image via HBO Max

Creators: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Cast: Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Zaria, Malia Pyles, Maia Reficco

Secrets are once again tearing up a small town in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. A reboot of the ABC turned freeform series under the same name, the HBO Max original takes place within the same universe and is set in the working-class town of Millwood, Pennsylvania, where five high school girls are hunted down by a mysterious blackmailer named “A.” Embracing the slasher horror film genre, the reboot has won critical acclaim and bathes in dark secrets as « A » preys upon the five girls to make them pay for sins their mothers committed while in high school.

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Image via HBO

Creator: Sam Levinson

Cast: Zendaya, Sydney Sweeney, Hunter Schafer, Jacob Elordi, Maude Apatow

In this southern California-set teen soap drama, the beautiful people on screen commit ugly acts in the same of love, hate, and vengeance. Zendaya stars in Euphoria as 16-year-old drug addict Rue Bennett, and she struggles to stay clean as her classmates deal with their own fair share of problems. The HBO series blew up during its premiere season in 2019, and its loyal following has only grown thanks to all the rumored feuds and behind-the-screen drama rivaling the fiascos on-screen. Season 3 is slated to debut sometime in 2024, and we can only hope for more bottle-breaking fights, meltdowns mid-performance, and catfights in the hallway.

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Image Via The CW

Creator: Noga Landau, Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage

Cast: Kennedy McMann, Leah Lewis, Maddison Jaizani, Tunji Kasim, Alex Saxon

Literature’s favorite kid detective transforms into a stealthy, 18-year-old waitress solving crimes on the side in The CW’s Nancy Drew, a dark reinterpretation of the classic novels. Kennedy McMannstars in the titular role, and after dropping out of college due to her mother’s death, Nancy moves back home to live with her dad to grieve while working at the local diner, the Claw. Despite trying to stay away from mysteries, sleuthing runs in Nancy’s veins, and together with the Claw staff, they all work to solve the brutal murder of a local socialite.

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The OC (2003-2007)

The cast of The OC
Image via Warner Bros Television Productions

Creator: Josh Schwartz

Cast: Ben McKenzie, Mischa Barton, Rachel Bilson, Adam Brody, Chris Carmack

California has never looked more enticing yet terrifying in the teen soap series The OC, a watershed moment in pop culture when it debuted on FOX in 2003 thanks to the muscle tanks, flip phones, and low-rise jeans. Starring Ben McKenzie, Mischa Barton, Rachel Bilson, and Adam Brody as four teenagers living in Orange County, they come from both broken homes and privilege and writhe in dramatic love triangles, affairs, and illicit activities. McKenzie plays new kid in town Ryan Atwood, and as the wealthy Cohen family takes him in, he adjusts to this strange new lifestyle among beach parties and some tasty waves.

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The cast of One Tree Hill standing together
Image via The CW

Creator: Mark Schwan

Cast: Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty, Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz, Paul Johansson

One Tree Hill is one of the longest-running series on this list, thanks to the never-ending heartbreaks and scandals going down in the fictional town of One Tree Hill, North Carolina. Yet another reason why The CW ruled teen dramas during the 2000s, Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty, Hilarie Burton, Bethanie Joy Lenz, and Sofia Bush play the various teenagers caught up in love triangles and basketball. Running for a total of nine seasons, the series revolves around small-town secrets and dysfunctional families with too many iconic moments to count.

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Image via WB

Creator: Kevin Williamson

Cast: James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson, Mary Margaret Humes

Dawson’s Creek arguably started the 2000s teen drama craze on television. Also starting the careers of James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, and Joshua Jackson, the melodrama follows various teens living in the fictional small town of Capside, Massachusetts. Van Der Beek plays 15-year-old Dawson, and he gradually comes of age while dealing with awkward first loves and hardship. Holmes plays Dawson’s best friend Joey Potter, and they hide their feelings for one another as Williams rounds out the love triangle, playing the popular Jen Lindey. Airing on The WB, the teen cast ricocheted to stardom and set the blueprint for the future high school set dramas to come.

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The Vampire Diaries
Image via The CW

Creator: Kevin Williamson, Julie Pec

Cast: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Kat Graham, Candice King

Hungry for something a little juicer? Take a bite out of The Vampire Diaries, The CW classic featuring the beautiful undead, chiseled werewolves, and all-powerful witches. Nina Dobrev stars as high schooler Elena Gilbert, and she finds herself in a steamy love triangle between the Salvatore brothers who just so happen to be vampires. Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder co-star as Stefan and Damon Salvatore respectively, and they fight to win Elena’s attention amid showdowns with other demonic monsters in the small southern town of Mystic Falls.

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The cast of Pretty Little Liars standing together
Image via Freeform

Creator: I. Marlene King

Cast: Troian Bellisario, Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, Sasha Pieterse

They’ve got secrets they can’t keep, and they’ll pay for it. Pretty Little Liars stars Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Shay Mitchell, and Troian Bellisario as four estranged sophomore high school students hiding dark secrets from their past. Forced to reunite a year after their best friend Allison (Sasha Pieterse) goes missing, they begin receiving texts threatening to reveal all their darkest secrets from the anonymous blackmailer “A.” Based upon the best-selling novel series written by Sara Shepard, the girls band together to solve “A”’s identity, and Pretty Little Liars became an instant hit thanks to the various twists popping up at every corner.

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Image via HBO Max

Creator: Rich Eustis, Michael Elias

Cast: Isabella Gomez, Dior Goodjohn, Gavin Lewis, Jorge Diaz, Adrian Matthew Escalona

The boom of reboots, revivals, and remakes is still going strong, but some are just bound to get lost in the haze. Based upon the hit series under the same name from 1986 starring Howard Hesseman, the second go around of Head of the Class stars Isabella Gomez (One Day at a Time)as Miss. Alicia Gomez. The series follows her shaping the minds of high school students participating in the honors debate club at Meadows Creek High School. Unfortunately for the HBO Max remake, it fell through the cracks and couldn’t quite break through, leading it to get canceled after Season 1.

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Creator: Greg Berlanti

Cast: Gregory Smith, Treat Williams, Emily VanCamp, Tom Amandes, Debra Mooney

Everwood is a slice of the American dream rolled up into family drama, feuding doctors, and learning to live with grief. Dr. Andrew Brown (Treat Williams) moves with his teenage son Ephraim (Gregory Smith) and daughter Delia (Vivien Cardone), to the small Colorado town of Everwood after his wife dies in a car accident, and he struggles to adjust as a single father while battling his grief. In a town where everyone knows everyone, Andrew opens a practice of his own while an angst-ridden Ephraim navigates his own grief among bullies, crushes, and a tumultuous relationship with his dad.

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Kaci Walfall naomi-image-social

Creator: Ava DuVernay, Jill Blankenship

Cast: Kaci Walfall, Cranston Johnson, Alexander Wraith, Mary-Charles Jones, Mouzam Makkar

In a baffling decision, The CW canceled the critically acclaimed teen superhero series, Naomi,after a single season. From the minds of Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship, Kaci Walfall stars as Naomi McDuffie, a star student and internet sleuth who tracks superheroes’ whereabouts. Based on the comic book series under the same name, Naomi soon discovers she has powers of her own and grows into them while maintaining her grades, friendships, and well-being.

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Image via HBO

Creator: Luca Guadagnino, Paolo Giordano, Francesca Manieri, Sean Conway

Cast: Jack Dylan Grazer, Jordan Kristine Seamon, Beatrice Barichella, Tom Mercier, Francesca Scorese

Luca Guadagnino dips his feet into prestige television waters with the HBO limited series, We Are Who We Are. Starring Jack Dylan Grazer (It)as Fraser Wilson and Jordan Kristine Seamón as Caitlin “Harper” Poythress, they play two vivacious teens living on a U.S. army base in Italy where their parents serve in the United States Army. Chloë Sevigny and Alice Braga co-star as Fraser’s parents, and Scott Mescudi and Faith Alabi play Caitlin’s parents. Guadagnino’s limited series received critical acclaim for its character-driven, come-of-age story surrounded by Italy’s beautiful landscape, and as Caitlin starts to explore her gender identity, the two friends burn in the fire that is growing up.

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Image via HBO Max

Written by: Jack Thorne

Cast: Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, Amir Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda

His Dark Materials is based on theiconic, best-selling fantasy novel series written by Phillip Pullman. Season 1 follows the first novel,The Golden Compass, and Dafne Keen (Logan) stars as the 12-year-old protagonist Lyra Silvertongue. An orphan studying at Jordan College in Oxford, she remains there while her uncle, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), goes off and explores potential new realms. Monitored closely by the villainous Marisa Coulter (Ruth Wilson), she runs away to find her missing friend and stumbles upon magical entities that lead to new discoveries and parallel universes.

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Image via CTV

Creator: Yan Moore, Linda Schuyler

Cast: Drake, Emma Nelson, Cassie Steele, Stacey Farber, Jake Epstein

What is there to say about Degrassi: The Next Generation? It’s got Drake, drama, and lots of awkward teen romance. Also featuring Emma Nelson as Miriam McDonald, Cassie Steele as Manny Santos, Stacey Farber as Ellie Nash, Jake Epstein as Craig Manning, and Shane Kippel as Gavin “Spinner” Mason to name a few, the iconic series follows students at Degrassi Community school as they deal with what all teenagers deal with, and the series became known for taking on the controversial subjects of teen pregnancy, abortion, sex, drugs, and everything else under the sun.

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Titans (2018-present)

titans season 4
Image via HBO Max

Creator: Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti

Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Teagan Croft, Anna Diop, Curran Walters, Ryan Potter

Powerful superheroes are resurrected in Titans and reform the iconic group to battle monsters. New to their responsibilities, the superheroes adjust to their powers in this dark, sleek reinvention of the characters from DC Comics. Teagen Croft stars as misfit teen Rachel Roth/ Raven, and she escapes a Carrie horror movie-like home life to unite with the other Titans as villains eagerly pursue her. All outsiders in their own way, the series features Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson, Anna Diop as Starfire, Ryan Potter as Beast Boy, Minka Kelly as Dawn Granger, and Alan Ritchson as Hank Hall.

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Image via HBO Max

Creator: Saverio Costanzo

Cast: Margherita Mazzucco, Gaia Girace, Alba Rohrwacher, Luca Gallone, Anna Rita Vitolo

Critically acclaimed HBO series My Brilliant Friend is based upon the best-selling Italian and Neapolitan novel under the same name written by Elena Ferrante. Following the first of four books within the series, Season 1 of My Brilliant Friend chronicles young best friends Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo growing up as two bright students at the top of their class in Naples, Italy during the 50s. Margherita Mazzucco and Gaia Girace play the young Elena and Lila, and the series documents their friendship over the span of several decades as the grown-up Elena (Alba Rohrwacher) narrates the series to reflect on their complicated, one-of-a-kind bond.

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