Madeline Gearheart | January 8, 2021
The Most Popular Satellite TV Shows for Teens
Most teenagers feel they’re nearly full-blown adults. While teenagers may lack experience and maturity, one thing’s for sure: teenagers understand—and appreciate— witty quips, sarcastic one-liners, and nuanced plot lines. But that doesn’t mean they should watch all the same things adults watch.
To please both parents and even the most stubborn teens, we rounded up a list of must-watch teen TV shows—some of which were made for adults, and some made for high schoolers. Either way, the shows we hand-picked are among the most popular TV shows sure to please teens (even the ones wise beyond their years).
If you want TV watch guides tailored for your kid no matter their age, here are satellite TV watch guides for toddlers, tweens, and teens.
The Ultimate Guide to Watching Family-Friendly Satellite TV shows
Top Teen TV Shows, in Order of IMDb Ranking
1. Sherlock, 9.1
Following in the footsteps of the infamous fictional character Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock takes a modern-day twist on the London detective’s hunt for the truth. Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock Holmes takes viewers’ noses to the ground as the detective and his flat-mate-turned-sidekick attempt to solve the mysteries unraveling around them.
Available on Amazon Prime, BBC America, Google Play, iTunes, PBS, VUDU
2. Friends, 8.9
Friends may have aired from the ‘90s to the early aughts, but its popularity is still as strong as ever. While a bit more sophisticated than the typical teenage-vampire-romcom, the show is generally clean when it comes to all things language, nudity, and sex. Plus it’s a charmingly-funny TV show for teens and the whole family.
Available on Amazon Prime, iTunes, MTV, Netflix, Nickelodeon, TBS
3. The Office, 8.9
Most teenagers likely already binge-watch The Office, but if they haven’t, there’s a reason it’s a top teen TV show (and a top TV show for adults too). The mockumentary-style series is chock-full of sarcasm and clever plotlines. Most episodes run less than twenty-five minutes—the perfect escape during a study break.
Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix
4. Freaks and Geeks, 8.8
Freaks and Geeks is yet another ‘90s-ish sitcom to grace our list. Unlike the other three TV shows above, Freaks and Geeks was originally created as a TV show for teens. The comedy, which follows misfit teens as they navigate high school’s worst elements, takes a comedic twist on all things bullies, botched dates, and fitting in. In our humble opinion, Freaks and Geeks should be at the top of your teenager’s list of teen TV shows to watch.
Available on Netflix
5. Seinfeld, 8.8
They say people are either team Seinfeld or team Friends, but we felt both series deserve a spot on the list. Like Friends, Seinfeld is a Manhattan sitcom set in the ‘90s, only instead of six friends congregating at a coffee house each episode, Seinfeld follows the happenings of four best friends—all hilarious in their own ways.
Available on Hulu, Netflix DVD, TBS
6. Stranger Things, 8.8
Netflix knocks another original series out of the park. Stranger Things is one of the best TV shows for teens and one of the best fictional TV series to date. The fictional thriller uncovers supernatural powers, government experiments, and of course, young love (because what kind of teenage TV show doesn’t?).
Available on Netflix
7. This Is Us, 8.7
This Is Us follows the lives of several characters who share the same birthday and eventually end up intertwining in one anothers’ lives. The show tackles topics like obesity, pregnancy, divorce, and more. If your teen is prone to crying, we can’t promise they won’t shed a tear or two while watching. Luckily, as devastating as the drama series can be at times, it’s also equally heartwarming and redeeming.
Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, NBC, VUDU
8. Parks and Recreation, 8.6
If your teen belly-laughs while watching The Office, they’re sure to love Parks and Recreation too. Parks and Rec, as fans call it, is another mockumentary-style series, but this time it follows the adventures of dim-witted but good-natured Leslie Knope as she takes her duty as the Deputy Director of her town’s Parks and Recreation department a little too seriously.
Available on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, VUDU
9. Community, 8.5
Community tells the tale of an eager-to-do lawyer, Jeff Winger, who gets exposed for having a bogus law degree, forcing him to return to community college. In an attempt to win over the heart of a particularly beautiful coed, Winger creates a study group that continues to meet up long after their initial meet-cute. The comedy is jam-packed with witty jokes, dynamic characters, and not-so-predictable plot lines.
Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, VUDU
10. Modern Family, 8.4
In an age where same-sex marriage is legal and some couples have ten- and twenty-year age gaps between them, Modern Family follows the lives of three families that are, well, modern. The feel-good series tackles concepts like adoption, father-daughter disagreements, and in-laws that don’t *love* their kids’ spouses (to name a few).
Available on ABC, Amazon Prime, Hulu, VUDU
11. Gilmore Girls, 8.1
No show better epitomizes the heartwarming relationship between mothers and daughters than Gilmore Girls. The multigenerational drama explores Lorelai and Rory’s worlds as they swap secrets like the best friends they are, fight like cats and dogs like the proper mother and daughter they are, and everything in-between. Unlike other TV shows on our list that aren’t quiiiite teen-specific but still lovable by all ages, Gilmore Girls is exclusively one of the most popular teen TV shows.
Available on Amazon Prime, Freeform, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, VUDU
12. Elementary, 7.9
Elementary is another contemporary version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. But instead of another campy, predictable who-dun-it series, Elementary has compelling and—dare we say—sexy plot lines. Plus, unlike other renditions of the story, Elementary weaves in themes of drug use and sobriety—topics which teens aren’t exposed to enough.
Available on CBS, CBS All Access, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, VUDU
13. The Fosters, 7.9
In the world we live in today, no two families look the same as they once did in the 1950s—and no show captures modern-day American families better than The Fosters. The show centers around a family who brings in a foster child, Callie, to live with them in their home. The Fosters accurately depicts the complexities, trauma, and difficulty foster children face every day and the rickashay affect the foster system has on those around it.
Available on Amazon Prime, Freeform, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix
14. Jane the Virgin, 7.8
Lighthearted, hilarious, and age-appropriate (despite the show’s reference to “virgin” in its name), Jane the Virgin is as wholesome as it is endearing. This telenovela classic follows Jane, a woman determined to wait until marriage to have sex, as she’s accidentally impregnated at a routine check-up. Both amusing and charming, Jane the Virgin is easily a favorite teen TV show among angsty teens everywhere.
Available on Amazon Prime, CW, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, VUDU
15. New Girl, 7.7
The new girl on the block, Jess, is a quirky, odd woman who’s as lovable as she is weird. The comedy follows the adventures of her and her three once-random male roommates as they each struggle to find careers they actually enjoy, woo over their crushes, and navigate the inevitable awkwardness of (spoiler!) dating roommates.
Available on Amazon Prime, FOX, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix
16. Vampire Diaries, 7.7
Our top teen TV shows list wouldn’t be complete without a vampire romance series. With that, we present to you Vampire Diaries: a homage to forbidden love. But the show isn’t all butterflies and roses. Vampire Diaries tackles seemingly-human characters with supernatural powers, untrustworthy neighbors, and the stress behind finding the perfect dress for prom.
Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube
17. 13 Reasons Why, 7.6
13 Reasons Why is easily one of the most popular TV teen shows to premier in recent years. The show’s plotline revolves around the suicide of a troubled high schooler and the effect her death has on those around her. In addition to its focus on mental health, the series also broaches on other once-taboo topics like drug use, rape, and abusive family lives.
Available on Netflix
18. Arrow, 7.5
Between everyday high school stressors and the occasional blemish, high schoolers need to escape their own reality every now and then—and Arrow offers the perfect solution. The superhero-themed series takes an unusual approach to superhero classics. Instead of wholesome superheroes who rise out of the dust following an orphaned-upbringing or troubled childhood, Arrow follows Oliver, a retired billionaire playboy who vows to become his city’s hooded vigilante à la Batman.
Available on CW, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix
19. Pitch, 7.4
Looking for a great teen TV show? Look no further than Pitch. For some high schoolers, sports, theatrical productions, debate team, or other extracurricular activities dominate their existence—which is why we love a teen TV series all about a teen eager to chase her dream. The show follows a young female baseball player who is the first of her kind to compete in the Big Leagues.
Available on Amazon Prime, FOX, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, VUDU
20. Degrassi: The Next Generation, 7.3
Fair warning: Degrassi doesn’t shy away from depicting scenarios that are happening in high schools around the world—nor does it attempt to dumb those scenarios down. The show follows the lives of high schoolers at their school, Degrassi, where they experiment with drugs, become sexually active, and navigate life-altering decisions.
Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, VUDU
21. Angie Tribeca, 7.0
Angie Tribeca is a mystery series that takes viewers behind the scenes of LAPD detectives attempting to solve the worst-of-the-worst cases. The series is another female-led series (which we love because #diversity), and it isn’t gruesome or excessively violent. In other words, as interesting as the crime detective series is, we don’t think it’ll give your teens nightmares.
Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, TBS, VUDU
22. The Carrie Diaries, 7.0
In The Carrie Diaries, viewers watch as—you guessed it—Carries feels alive again after moving to New York following the death of her mom. The show chronicles Carrie as she interns for a big-bad law firm and is exposed to both the grit and beauty of the everyday life of a working woman. It is tailored for teens, follows the life of a teenager/young adult, and is one of the best teen TV shows around for a host of other reasons.
Available on Amazon Prime, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix
23. Glee, 6.7
The popular musical series, Glee, follows the ups and downs of members of the Glee club: a roundup of misfits, jocks, nerds, and divas. The show dives into topics that were once considered inappropriate to discuss: teen pregnancy, drug use, underage drinking, disability, body image, and more.
Available on Amazon Prime, FOX, Glee, Google Play, iTunes, VUDU
24. Ugly Betty, 6.5
Most teens are all-too-familiar with insecurity, feeling different, and not feeling as pretty as those around them. Ugly Betty encapsulates these familiar feelings through wannabe writer, Betty, who isn’t as outwardly beautiful as those around her. The kicker? The comedy demonstrates how big brains, kindness, and being different is beautiful in their own right.
Available on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix DVD, VUDU
25. Supergirl, 6.3
Kids, teens, and adults everywhere can appreciate a little superhero action, which is why Supergirl was an obvious standout for our list. The female-led series follows Kara Zor-El (a.k.a. Supergirl and cousin to Superman), and her adventures as she seeks protection from her home planet, Krypton, while on Earth.
Available on Amazon Prime, CW, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, VUDU