From Daria (1997-2002) to Elite (2018 – present), here are 16 great shows like Euphoria.
Based on the Israeli series of the same name, Euphoria (2019 – present) was created and written by Sam Levinson, the son of Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Levinson. HBO’s Euphoria is a boundary-pushing tale about high school students as they navigate love, friendship, sex, and drugs. While there have been many teen drama series, what makes Euphoria stand out and uniquely capture the contemporary teen experience is its raw and revelatory tone. Spear-headed by an intense and heart-wrenching performance from Zendaya as the 17-year-old drug addict Rue Bennett, the debauchery and decay in modern teen life hits you hard.
The realness of the adolescent characters’ experiences and the explicit depiction of substance use, nudity, and sexual violence have sparked controversies. Yet Euphoria shows deep empathy for its characters. It never reduces them into one-dimensional archetypes, but rather brilliantly humanizes each of the troubled teenagers. It’s no surprise that the show has had a huge cultural impact and is HBO’s second-most-watched show after Game of Thrones. While season one focused mainly on Rue and her transgender lover Jules (Hunter Schafer), season two expanded the show’s scope and focused on brilliant subplots.
Other striking aspects of Euphoria are the distinctly stylized mise-en-scène and the great use of pop songs. Now that we are dealing with a long waiting period for Euphoria’s season 3 (2025), we thought it was time to explore similar shows that could fill the void left by the hit HBO drama. Here are 18 TV shows you should check out if you love the lowbrow high school drama Euphoria:
Best Shows Like Euphoria
1. Daria (1997-2002)
Daria was first introduced as the smart outcast girl in the class of Beavis and Butthead, an MTV animated adult series whose titular characters are doltish heavy-metal music fans. Later, MTV gave Daria her own show, which ran for five seasons and followed the two years of Daria’s high school. The show was applauded for its unflinching depiction of female adolescence, armed with a sense of wry detachment.
Daria and the many multi-dimensional characters in the show remind us of the sincere and unsentimental portrayal of teenage characters in Euphoria, such as Rue Bennett and Jules Vaughn. In fact, there would be no Euphoria without such deeply perceptive and sarcastic shows like Daria.
2. Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)
Although Paul Feig’s Freaks and Geeks ran for only one season (18 episodes), it remains the benchmark of quality teen television drama. As the show’s title indicates, the narrative focuses on a high school’s two outcast gangs. Freaks and Geeks is set in 1980 at the fictional McKinley High in Detroit. While the show is less gritty than Euphoria and contains a traditional sitcom ambiance, it withholds solid characterizations and compelling subtext about adolescent life.
Freaks and Geeks adds quite a bit of emotional weight as it progresses, and even secondary characters get a good amount of character development. The show’s ensemble cast had aspiring actors who later became familiar faces; for instance, Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segal.
3. Gossip Girl (2007-2012)
Gossip Girl is based on the novel series of the same name by Cecily Von Ziegesar. It follows the lives of high society high school teens who attend a private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York. A mysterious blogger uncovers the secrets and adventures in the teens’ life. While Euphoria isn’t about privileged teens, both shows offer rich observations on teens growing up in societies with less support and how it impacts their mental health, social and sex lives.
Gossip Girl ran for six seasons and is relatively tame compared to Euphoria, which is chock-full of unsettling and raw portrayals of modern teenagers’ life. Gossip Girl relies more on melodrama and doesn’t entirely embrace a gritty tone.
4. Skins (2007- 2013)
Long before Euphoria, the British series Skins – created by Jamie Brittain & Bryan Elsley – offered a disconcertingly real and scandalous account of high school experiences. Creator Brittain was only 22 years old (Elsley is Brittain’s dad) when the first season of Skins debuted. Besides, he hired writers of the same age group to bring a level of realism to depicting teen lives. The show dealt with themes such as mental health issues, substance abuse, and sexuality.
Skins feature few soap opera elements, unlike Euphoria, but the compelling writing and a brilliant ensemble keep us invested in the show. Skins ran for seven seasons, and its cast includes now well-known actors like Nicholas Hoult, Kaya Scodelario, Dev Patel, and Hannah Murray.
5. My Mad Fat Diary (2013-2015)
Created by Tom Bidwell and George Kay, the British series My Mad Fat Diary revolves around a suicidal, overweight high schooler Rae Earl (Sharon Rooney), who hails from a working-class family. The show is set in the 1990s and captures teenage lives through the Britpop years. While the show deals with serious topics like adolescent angst, eating disorders, and self-harm, it consistently makes us chuckle through its witty dialogues.
Sharon offers a heartfelt performance as the loveable central character, and it’s a genuine joy as she tries to confront her issues and make new friendships. While many may find Euphoria’s handling of mental health topics triggering, My Mad Fat Diary carefully depicts the traumatic moments.
6. Skam (2015-2017)
Created by Julie Andem, the four-season Norwegian teen series Skam (Shame) is very much character-centric, like Euphoria and Skins. This realistic portrayal of Internet generation teens focuses on a different character for each season, all of whom attend a high school in Oslo. Even from an aesthetic standpoint, Skam goes for an unvarnished look with plenty of shaky, handheld shots.
The show’s incomplete, awkward dialogues, similar to Euphoria, convey the agonies of teenagers in articulating their feelings. Besides mental illness, substance abuse, and sexual relationship issues, Skam addresses social themes such as Islamophobia and immigration. The coming-out-of-the-closet storyline in the third season was handled in a fascinating, sensitive manner.
7. Elite (2018 – present)
Sex, drugs, and murder are all part of this Spanish Netflix mystery drama Elite. The show’s conflict is centered around the arrival of three working-class students at a prestigious private school. While the setting reminds us of series like Gossip Girl and Riverdale, Elite contains some dark social themes like Euphoria. However, Elite is more interested in offering a well-made guilty pleasure with a variety of twists. Hence, it sometimes follows cliched storytelling techniques to boost the thrills.
Elite does touch upon relevant themes like mental health issues, abusive relationships, and drug abuse. Nevertheless, its thematic exploration doesn’t contain the kind of depth a show like Euphoria has. Still, Elite is an incredible show with fine cathartic moments.
8. Looking for Alaska (2019)
Looking for Alaska is based on John Green’s best-selling 2005 young-adult novel of the same name. Like Euphoria, the HULU series tells the heartfelt tale of unsupervised youth and their sense of rebellion and isolation. The story revolves around the shy teenager Miles (Charlie Plummer), who attends the same boarding school where his father studied, Culver Creek Academy. He makes a best friend and becomes obsessed with an enigmatic girl named Alaska (Kristine Froseth).
However, Miles soon learns Culver Creek is a microcosm of the real, gritty world and faces challenging issues while navigating the school’s social hierarchy. The show offers an intriguing take on gender politics, social class, grief, and teenage relationships.
9. Sex Education (2019 – present)
Netflix’s smash hit series Sex Education revolves around Otis (Asa Butterfield), a virgin and a socially awkward high schooler. His mother is a sex therapist, and he feels this provides him with an innate understanding of teenagers’ psyche and sexual frustrations. Otis teams up with a social outcast classmate, Maeve (Emma Mackey), to offer sex therapy lessons to fellow teens.
While Euphoria is an edgy high school drama, Sex Education is a comedy series with less morally grey characters. Sex Education pokes fun at the ridiculousness of adolescence, whereas Euphoria is more concerned with the overwhelming anxieties in the lives of traumatized teens. At the same time, both shows try to offer a realistic portrayal of teenage relationship issues and their identity crisis.
10. Dare Me (2019)
Adapted from Megan Abbott’s 2012 novel of the same name, the Netflix teen drama explores some dark and intriguing themes like Euphoria. The series is set in a small town and revolves around two high school students and best friends, Beth and Addy. They belong to a cheerleading team that has a new coach named Collette. The coach’s arrival upsets the friendship and lives of the two teenage girls. Soon, shocking secrets and a murder mystery capture our attention.
Unlike Euphoria, Dare Me has formulaic dramatic elements in the early episodes. But once the characters are established, it offers a fascinating take on the themes of jealousy, friendship, obsession, and sexual violence.
11. The Society (2019)
Netflix’s The Society is yet another reimagination of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, although the young people here are stranded in a familiar atmosphere. The series follows teenagers in a wealthy town called West Ham. After a botched school-sponsored camping trip, the teenagers find all West Ham adults missing. What follows is the survival of an insular community of teenagers.
Like Lost, The Society boasts numerous characters. However, the show primarily deals with adolescent issues and their challenges in creating a society with rules. The Society isn’t entirely a dystopian drama; like Euphoria, it focuses a little more on the characters. Still, the writing isn’t up to the standards of the HBO show.
12. I May Destroy You (2020)
Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You deals with the lives of 20-somethings. It’s as candid and profound as Euphoria while dealing with trauma, sexuality, and emotional well-being. In fact, both shows fascinatingly capture the whole millennial experience. I May Destroy You revolves around a young writer named Arabella (Michaela Coel), who has debuted with a best-selling book.
Arabella is now struggling with her second book. The intense and bright Arabella’s journey to finish the second book leads her to face a traumatic incident. I May Destroy You contains a spellbinding, kinetic visual style to depict the protagonist’s personal torment. The show avoids offering definitive answers and instead incites conversations on gender and sexuality.
13. I Am Not Okay With This (2020)
Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This, though, wades into the fantasy genre, it closely captures the confusion, rage, and euphoria of a teenager. It revolves around Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis), who gives her best to survive the dog-eat-dog world of high school. She lives with her mother and a younger brother while still grieving the loss of her father. Soon, Sydney’s overwhelming emotions take a supernatural bent as inexplicable powers manifest during stressful moments.
Though at the outset, I Am Not Okay With This features archetypal characters, creator Jonathan Entwistle gradually inculcates a raw and honest portrayal of teenage lives. There’s enough teen drama here to satiate the fans of Euphoria.
14. Industry (2020 – present)
HBO’s Industry is labeled as a Euphoria-like series set in an investment bank. It follows a group of millennials applying for jobs at a bank to become stock market traders after the 2008 financial collapse. The chief character among the young and privileged candidates is New Yorker Harper (Myha’la Herrold), a determined and intelligent woman with a secret. Industry deals with a host of themes like racial inequality, substance abuse, sexual harassment, and mental well-being.
The scenarios inside the financing world get only increasingly stressful, mind-boggling, and toxic in the second season as the 20-somethings live life on the edge. The show is perpetually unsettling, like Euphoria, as the characters’ behavior keeps deteriorating.
15. We Are Who We Are (2020)
HBO’s We Are Who We Are, directed by Call Me By Your Name fame Luca Guadagnino, tells a tale of love, self-discovery, and friendship set in an American military base in Italy. It revolves around 14-year-old Fraser Wilson (Jack Dylan Glazer). He moves to Italy from New York with his mother, Sarah (Chloe Sevigny), who is the new base commander. There Fraser builds a bond with a young girl Caitlin (Jordan Kristine Seamon).
Together they navigate the rigid world of the military base and engage in their own explorations of identity. We Are Who We Are isn’t as disturbing as Euphoria, yet it places enough emotional weight on the characters like the HBO show.
16. Cruel Summer (2021 – present)
Cruel Summer is a teen thriller series set in the small fictional town of Skylin, Texas. It’s set in the 1990s and follows the lives of two teenage girls: the popular girl, Kate (Olivia Holt), and the shy outcast Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia). An abduction and an accusation rock the town and reveal dark and deeper secrets. Like Euphoria, Cruel Summer employs a change of perspective with each episode, allowing viewers to see different facets of the characters and the incidents.
Like the HBO show, Cruel Summer skilfully uses the flashback narrative and deals with many grey areas in human behavior. Moreover, it gets increasingly darker and unsettling as the series progresses.
There you go! These are some of the most remarkable TV series to follow while waiting for Euphoria Season 3. Some might not be as gritty and profound as Sam Levinson’s show, yet they’re grounded in high school/teen experiences. If you are craving more teen drama series, check out Grand Army (2020), Generation (2021), Yellowjackets (2021 -), Awkward (2011-2016), The Sex Lives of College Girls (2021 -), Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001-2015), and My So-Called Life (1994-1995).
What are your favorite shows like Euphoria? What did we miss? Tell us in the comments below.
An ardent cinephile, who truly believes in the transformative power and shared-dream experience of cinema. He blogs at ‘Passion for Movies.’