When it comes to teen romances, some are…a little less than wholesome.
That’s not to say that’s a bad thing. There are plenty of great teen dramas that I could recommend, but I wouldn’t exactly call them the most wholesome shows to watch. Like, for example, Euphoria is most certainly not the most uplifting series, as it features sex, drugs, overdoses, and much, much more.
But, even those on the lighter side, like The CW show, The Vampire Diaries, or even Netflix's Sex Education, often feature less than chaste material for people who just want a pure, fluffy teen romance to enjoy. Truth be told, those are sometimes hard to find. However, in my many years of watching teen shows, I’m here to give you five wholesome teen romance shows that you should check out if you just want something that will make you smile on a bad day.
Starting with a 2022 Netflix release, we take a look at Heartstopper, based on the graphic novels of the same name. This hit won over the hearts of viewers with its LGBTQ+ storyline featuring Nick and Charlie, two schoolboys who fall for each other when they end up in the same class together.
I could go on for days about why Heartstopper is genuinely one of the best teen romances to grace our television screens in years. Considering how popular it became during its initial run, I am not the only person who feels this way, but for those who are wondering if it really is worth all the hype, I can fully say yes, it is. It is a fantastic coming-out teen story that would feel great for anyone who is struggling to open up about their sexuality, and not only that, but it features a genuinely positive love story that anyone can relate to.
The Heartstopper cast is filled to the brim with diversity and talent and they're always fun to follow. The show itself has already been renewed for Season 2, which is currently in production as of this writing in October 2022, so you know that it’s a big show. If you’re going to give one series a shot, let it be Heartstopper.
Stream Heartstopper on Netflix. (opens in new tab)
Never Have I Ever (2020-Present)
Next up, we have another Netflix original, Never Have I Ever. Co-created by comedian and actress Mindy Kaling and loosely based on her teenage years, we follow Devi, a simple girl in high school who is struggling with the sudden loss of her father. Now, she struggles to not only find love, but find herself.
I love this show. Not only is Never Have I Ever a great example of what diversity should be in a show, with wonderful South Asian representation, but the coming of age story is so relatable. I’m a 24-year-old woman and even now, I feel myself relating to a lot of what Devi has gone through, simply because that was what my high school experience was like.
The romances in this show are very real too. They aren’t over the top for the sake of drama (looking at you, Gossip Girl) and not toxic in any way shape or form (Euphoria). They’re just simple teen crushes and curiosity that start to develop and become more over time, like how a romance should be. It’s just great overall.
The Never Have I Ever cast is also spot-on talented, with everyone providing a riveting performance and creating an honest to God portrayal of what an Indian-American household is like. The show has gotten a fourth season, most likely to debut in 2023, which will serve as its final season, so now is the time to watch.
Stream Never Have I Ever on Netflix. (opens in new tab)
Love, Victor (2020-2022)
Usually when it comes to spinoffs of movies, I’m not the biggest fan. The Rings of Power on Amazon is good but not my favorite. The Fantastic Beasts films have deteriorated over time. There are so many examples I could bring up, but I’ll choose not to, because we will be here for hours.
However, the one spinoff I did find myself enjoying a whole lot was Love, Victor. The teen romantic dramedy was a spinoff of the popular LGBTQ+ romantic comedy, Love, Simon, this time following Victor Salazar, a new student who is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and who, at one point, reaches out to Simon to learn how to handle these new life changes.
Love, Victor is exactly what I would think of if I think about a show that is completely wholesome. While it does deal with topics like sex, any good teen dramedy usually addresses that. What really makes Love, Victor such a great wholesome teen romance is that it shows the true progression of how people deal with not only their sexuality, but feelings as a whole. It’s scary at first but over time, you start to gain confidence and grow into yourself and that’s what Victor does.
Stream Love, Victor on Hulu. (opens in new tab)
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (2019-Present)
Remember what I said when I brought up that I didn’t like spinoffs? That still stands – but High School Musical: The Musical: The Series gets past that, surprisingly. As someone who was a huge fan of the original movies, this show surprised me in more ways than one.
We follow the (fictional) students who go to the real East High, where HSM was filmed, and now, they are going to be putting on their own stage production of the movie musical. But, of course, relationships and drama make this mockumentary-style teen drama a fun time.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is a joy to watch, with some great song covers and original songs. While the drama of producing a school musical is at its center, it’s the relationships and romances that are really the focus and add character, just as they did with the films. To be honest, it’s the most basic teen romances in the world and yet, I can’t get enough of them.
Plus, you also get to see Olivia Rodrigo before she blew up in the music world with her hit debut album and documentary on Disney+. And yes, she’s just as amazing as you would expect.
Stream High School Musical: The Musical: The Series on Disney+. (opens in new tab)
Dash & Lily (2020)
Last but not least, we take a look at Dash & Lily, a short-lived fun teen romance show that takes place during the most wonderful time of year, Christmas. In this Netflix original starring Austin Abrams and Midori Francis, we follow two teenagers with different personalities who end up falling for each other as they trade secret messages in books across the city, striving to figure out who the other is while running into problems along the way.
I really liked Dash & Lily. It came out in 2020 and was a great show that really took away the pain and stresses the year brought to all of us, and was a sweet and wholesome romance to follow. It’s why I’m so sad it was cancelled after only one season.
In retrospect, thought, a part of me is almost glad it was, because the love story was just what someone might need on a bad day, and it ended perfectly. Uplifting, sweet, and realistic, taking place during a time of year that is always so magical. If you’ve never seen it before, be sure to check it out.
Stream Dash & Lily on Netflix. (opens in new tab)
There are so many amazing shows to watch, but sometimes all I need is a little bit of fluffy teen romance, and these series will surely scratch that itch. You just might have found a new favorite.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!