The world of teen rom-com is a gift that keeps giving and giving, even when we’re not really asking for it. I could say it feels like the genre has become oversaturated, but that would feel like an understatement because of the rate at which OTT platforms keep churning these out. But as I complain, I’m reminded of the comfort that some of these shows provide. While high school dramas can focus on many different subjects, most of the content revolves around teen romance. Specifically, there’s an entire list of shows that involve a very intelligent and organized girl (can’t relate) with multiple (perfectly handsome) love interests. Maybe this is a fantasy of the millennials writing these books (since TV isn’t ever original anymore), the ones who grew up watching shows that emulated the line “If he tugs at your ponytail, he likes you,” or maybe it’s just a trend that might die down soon. There are a lot of shows with just as much love and hurt as My Life With The Walter Boys. Here’s a list for you to enjoy this holiday season.
1. The Summer I Turned Pretty
Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty was the first show that came to mind when we heard of My Life With The Walter Boys. Apart from their strangely generic titles, the shows also have a similar premise where a girl gets caught in between two incredibly different brothers (how does this work?). Belly’s story is a little bit slower, and while Jackie’s story doesn’t involve a sudden glow-up or childhood crushes, the end result is somewhat similar. The question still remains: are you team Conrad or team Jeremiah? Don’t tell anyone, but I’m Team Cam. If you’re interested in this tug-of-war-like situation where one person is torn by their feelings about two perfectly eligible choices, then go for this one, it’s got some emotional bits too.
2. Xo, Kitty
Of course, we couldn’t miss the show that brings almost every teen K-drama fan’s fantasy to life. Xo, Kitty is a maddening show for many reasons, one of which is the multiple people Kitty has the chance to choose between. While Belly has the benefit of being likeable like Jackie (who really is the best part of My Life With the Walter Boys), Kitty falls on the opposite side of that spectrum. She’s just as intelligent but extremely obnoxious. Still, I suppose Anna Cathcart’s adorable traits make her tolerable and someone to root for in the series. The show is a spin-off of the Netflix hit franchise To All the Boys I Loved Before, so you might want to add those to your list if you would like to do movies instead of shows.
3. Never Have I Ever
Oh look, it’s another perfectly gorgeous, extremely intelligent lead girl, but this time she’s Indian! I will admit, Never Have I Ever started off in the right direction and might have gone a bit downhill in the latter seasons, but I suppose it’s Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s alluring personality that really draws an audience to this show. Calling all these girls an inspiration would be a huge understatement. While the ending of this show may not have made everyone happy (rarely do these teen shows do that), it’s still one that is (mostly) enjoyable. Specifically, a lot of cultural influence on this show makes it nuanced in this particular genre.
4. Extraordinary You
This list would be unfinished without K-dramas, the leaders of heart-fluttering, swoon-worthy moments. Don’t worry, there are no brothers involved, but there are many tall and gorgeous men to make you feel fulfilled. As if teen dramas aren’t fantastical enough (you know none of those things are going to happen in real life!), Extraordinary You adds an extra element of enchantment to this by being set in a world within a comic book. It’s a classic tale of when a character realizes they’re not in the real world but a made-up one! Don’t worry, though! It has a perfectly happy ending! Extraordinary You is highly entertaining and keeps you excited from start to finish. Also! Kim Hye-Yoon’s adorableness is absolutely unbearable in this!
5. True Beauty
It’s too soon to call this show a classic, but I’m certain in about 2 years it will reach that status. Based on a webtoon of the same name, True Beauty follows Lim Joo-Kyung, a school-going girl who wears makeup to cover up her teenage face (you know, one that looks normal?). If you’re into slapstick comedy and just having a good time, give this one a go blindly. The second lead syndrome is a black hole, and I will always be team Seo-Jun. For a show that is mostly comedy, there are some really gut-punching bits in this series. Of course, there’s a love triangle; that’s why it’s on this list at all.
6. School 2017
The Korean School series is a very popular set of shows that are all based in high school and involve some high-stakes, thrilling plotlines that are highly entertaining and hard-hitting. While all of them are interesting and reflect the eras that they’ve come out in (2013 holds a special place in my heart), School 2017 might be the most free-spirited of the lot. Dare I say, this was Sejong’s defining show, putting her on the list of actresses to look out for. Fun fact: Sejong and Seol In-Ah first worked together on this show before their superhit Business Proposal.
7. Dash & Lily
The last two shows on the list are the most different from My Life With The Walter Boys. Dash & Lily is the perfect holiday teen romance show to watch. This show is one of the best teen shows within this genre to have come out in the last five years, for sure, and this is the perfect time to watch it! The premise is adorable, and the leads are delectable in their own sweet ways and the character arcs are so fun! There’s just so much to like about this show that I can’t recommend it enough! Also, if you’ve lost faith in all things romance, this one might just make you hopeful again!
8. My So-Called Life
I did say they would be really different. This show from all the way back in 1994 has its problematic elements and was cancelled after just one season, yet it’s one that can’t be missed. Especially if teen-angst is what you’re looking for. Claire Danes is an absolute gem in this and a big reason why you should watch this show. One of the rare, near-perfect depictions of teen lives and a great product of its time, My So-Called Life is totally binge-worthy. If you want something more tumultuous than the more sugarcoated shows on this list, then pick this one, and you won’t regret it!