15 Shows to Watch If You Love “The Summer I Turned Pretty”
“The Summer I Turned Pretty” became a bona-fide hit when it premiered in summer 2022 on Amazon Prime. Based on the bestselling YA romantic series by Jenny Han, it takes us into the coastal town of Cousins Beach, where we meet our lead gal, Belly Conklin, and her friends and family, who are taking their annual trip to the shore before their lives change forever with some devastating news.
Summers at Cousins are full of laughter, nostalgia, first kisses, and heartbreak, all wrapped together. The way Han turns nostalgia into a dreamy vision makes us wish every day was summer at Cousins, especially when the cute Fisher boys are nearby. The second season – which is based on the second book, “It’s Not Summer Without You” – has already wrapped filming, and while we don’t have a release date yet, here are some other juicy shows you can watch while we wait with bated breath.
"Emily in Paris"
When a young woman takes on a marketing role in Paris for a year, she’s in for a rude awakening that will end up changing her life in the most delicious way possible. The characters on “Emily in Paris” are older than those on “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” but both shows have the kind of joie de vivre that goes with putting yourself out there in a different place, finding love, and going on adventures to discover a new sense of self.
Sometimes it feels like being a teenager is an endless pit of existential crises as one tries to figure out their place in the world. Emily Dickinson, in the hilarious “Dickinson,” epitomizes the angsty teen, but she takes it a step further with her poetry. Belly is not quite as angsty as Emily, and they’re separated by centuries, but both share a need to be understood by their friends and family who still see them as a kid (or just a girl, in Emily’s case). The way they assert their independence and prove themselves sets the tone for both shows, whether it’s by sneaking out, being with someone they’re not supposed to, or going places they’re not invited.
"Never Have I Ever"
In “Never Have I Ever,” Devi is a spunky teenager who’s still grappling with the death of her father. After a period of upheaval, she’s ready to get back out there and make the best of her remaining time in high school by revamping her image. First thing on the list? Losing her virginity to the hottest guy in school, all while trying to beat her academic rival, who seems to be everywhere she is.
When a talented high-school football player catches the attention of a star coach in Beverly Hills, he experiences a big culture shock when he transfers to the wealthier school to play and is torn between his loyalty to his hometown and a bright future. “All American” is one of the more serious teen dramas on this list and deals with heavy topics such as substance use, racial discrimination, and class differences. It also offers a nice balance of levity, drama, and rivalries between teens from the struggling neighborhoods of Crenshaw, Los Angeles, and wealthy Beverly Hills. More important, it sheds light on the pressures of becoming your own person in high school.
"Ginny & Georgia"
Another love triangle, anyone? Ginny; her mother, Georgia; and brother Austin have always been on the go moving from city to city, but they finally seem to be settling down in their latest home in Massachusetts. Suddenly, Ginny’s got friends and two boys she’s torn over. Just as she begins to feel like she can be a teen again, the reality of who her mother is and what she’s capable of comes crashing down.
"On My Block"
A group of best friends growing up in Freeridge, Los Angeles, start their freshman year of high school together but are soon caught in the crossfires of gang violence, damaging family secrets, and a secret treasure hunt that makes them a target. Of course, there’s a “will they or won’t they” romance setup between the only girl in the group and the brother of a gang member. While the show is much darker than “TSITP,” the themes of star-crossed romantic relationships that threaten to break friendships apart and sacrificing for the greater good are present in both.
“Grown-ish” takes us through the pitfalls of becoming an adult in one’s college years through the lens of “Black-ish” character Zoey Johnson, who has been sheltered her whole life and starts to realize being in college and the real world is more overwhelming than she expected, identity is fluid, and friendships can be messy. And while the cast of “TSITP” aren’t in college yet, Han is already setting the stage for them to grow into adults and figure out who they are apart from their parents and their love for one another, and things are about to get really angsty.
“Outer Banks” feels like the older, mysterious sibling of “TSITP.” Set on the sandy beaches of Outer Banks, NC, it follows a group of teens trying to look for lost treasure, but they start to feel out of their element when they realize the treasure is part of a deeper conspiracy. Come for the summer-vibes aesthetic, but stay for the messy romance and mystery.
"One Tree Hill"
“One Tree Hill” is one of the older shows on this list, but hear me out: the multigenerational drama is unmatched, and let’s not get started on the sibling rivalry and various romantic entanglements. Like “One Tree Hill,” “TSITP”‘s parental characters get their own storylines, its cast is an ensemble, and its leads – Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah – are in a messy love triangle, so the drama in the show is bound to skyrocket just like it did in “One Tree Hill.”
"Dash & Lily"
Ah, teenage love at its most magical! “Dash & Lily” is a charming YA rom-com based on Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s book “Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares.” It’s set against the backdrop of Christmas time in New York City and takes one of the most beloved seasons of the year, winter, and turns it into a magical moment for the characters – just like “TSITP” did with summer. For Belly and her friends, “TSITP” takes place during an unforgettable summer where she finally puts her heart on the line for Conrad. For “Dash & Lily,” its story hinges on a series of love notes the characters leave for the other throughout the city until they find their way to each other.
“The Summer I Turned Pretty” is steamier than its literary counterpart, but if you’re looking for even more steam from a teen show, might we suggest “Sex Education“? The British teen dramedy finds an unlikely sex therapist in a high-school student who’s a virgin talking to repressed teens about reclaiming their sex lives. Alongside the unofficial education they’re receiving, the characters in the show find themselves taking unexpected journeys toward self-discovery and ambition because they no longer feel restricted by the adults in their lives.
"High School Musical: The Musical: The Series"
We’re aware that “TSITP” is not a musical . . . although it does boast a soundtrack that includes all the best trending music from the past few years. Creativity and performance seem to play a big part in the first season of “TSITP,” and like “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” it uses music and the arts to express teenage experiences, albeit in different ways. In fact, the whole first season of “TSITP” builds up to the highly anticipated debutante ball. But if you’re looking for more musical sequences and some Wildcats drama, you may want to tune in to watch the drama-filled stage productions in “HSMTMTS.”
"Looking For Alaska"
If you’re looking for a screen adaptation of another beloved YA book, look no further than “Looking For Alaska,” based on John Green’s bestselling novel of the same name. It explores the impact that grief has on people, especially when they lose their loved ones in their formative years. Alaska, the titular character, is burdened with guilt for not helping her late mother as a child, and later, Alaska’s friends feel guilty for not getting her more help and being there for her. In “TSITP,” Conrad bears the weight of knowing about his mother’s cancer diagnosis before anyone else, and it causes him to push away his loved ones.
“Love, Victor ” is a heartwarming story inspired by the hit film “Love, Simon,” which is also based on the book “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli. The spin-off follows Victor, who moves to a new town and is trying to fit in at his new high school while he learns more about who he is and his sexual orientation. Strong friendships and romance help Victor confide in more people about his identity and embrace who he truly is.
"Teenage Bounty Hunters"
What happens when two teen sisters wreck their parents’ car and have to pay for it? They become secret bounty hunters! Through their newfound hobby, these twin sisters who’ve always been attached at the hip learn who they are outside the other, fall in love with people they never imagined being with, and unexpectedly unravel family secrets that threaten to destroy their bond. It’s adventurous and fun, with a dose of wholesomeness and heartache that will make you want to hug your siblings and close friends.