12 TV Shows to Commemorate Back to School Season

published Aug 19, 2021
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Back to school season is officially here. This time of the year can evoke feelings of both fear and joy, kids going back to in-person learning while others continue to stay at home — a night of laughter and reminiscing about normal routines might be needed more than ever.

Classroom supplies, crushes, and syllabi are all part of the transition from summer to fall, and several TV shows aim to capture the range of emotions — from new school jitters to senior year excitement. And with so much streamable content these days, there’s a series for all kinds of back to school experiences. Here are 12 shows to help get you ready to return:

1. “PEN15

“PEN15” broke barriers when it first premiered in 2019, starring 30-something-year-old comedians Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle who play their middle school selves. The show follows the two unpopular middle schoolers as they deal with first boyfriends, periods, and recitals. The second half of season two finally premieres this month.

Available to stream on Hulu.

From Mindy Kaling, “Never Have I Ever” follows high schooler Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) as she tries to navigate high school and the grief surrounding the death of her father. She’s joined by her best friends (Lee Rodriguez and Ramona Young) and the trio attempt to climb the popularity ladder by getting boyfriends, to varying results. The second season premiered this summer.

Available to stream on Netflix.

3. “Atypical

“Atypical” tells the story of Sam (Keir Gilchrist), an autistic teenager on a quest for love. Sam’s search for a girlfriend is complemented by his loving but complicated family. The fourth and final season premiered this summer. 

Available to stream on Netflix

4. “Black-ish

Andre (Anthony Anderson) has the perfect life, but he worries that his family has lost some of their cultural identity. At the beginning of “Black-ish,” Dre decides to teach his school-age children about their Black identity and heritage, with the help of his father (Laurence Fishburne) and wife (Tracee Ellis Ross). The show was renewed for an eighth and final season. 

Available to stream on Hulu.

5. “Sex Education

“Sex Education” follows teenager Otis (Asa Butterfield), who lives with his sex therapist mother, Jean (Gillian Anderson). Although Otis has no interest in sex at the start of the series, he begins offering advice to other students. The third season premieres this fall.

Available to stream on Netflix.

6. “Chad

Like “PEN15,” the main teen character in “Chad” is played by an adult (Nasim Pedrad). The show follows high schooler Chad as he attempts to become popular. He also grapples with his feelings about his Persian identity and not having a father in the picture. “Chad” was renewed for a second season.

Available to stream on TBS.

7. “On My Block

Set in the fictional Los Angeles neighborhood of Freeridge, “On My Block” tells the story of four teenagers (Sierra Capri, Jason Genao, Brett Gray, and Diego Tinoco) balancing everyday high school concerns and fears about gang violence. The series focuses on how teens carve out identity, both as a group and on their own. The show was renewed for a fourth and final season.

Available to stream on Netflix.

8. “Genera+ion

“Generat+ion” chronicles the day in the life of several Gen Z high schoolers as they grapple with sexuality, pregnancy, and drug use. The series comes from father-daughter duo Daniel and Zelda Barnz, so it benefits from a multi-generational perspective. The show hasn’t been renewed for another season yet.

Available to stream on HBO Max.

9. “Love, Victor

“Love, Victor” is the TV response to 2018’s “Love, Simon” film. Like the movie, the show tells the story of a teen discovering his queerness. Victor (Michael Cimino) struggles with his sexuality and coming out, both with friends at school and his family at home. “Love, Victor” was renewed for a third season.

Available to stream on Hulu.

10. “The Goldbergs

Narrated by Patton Oswalt, “The Goldbergs” tells the semi-autobiographical story of Adam Goldberg as he grows up in the 80s. Goldberg (Sean Giambrone) starts the series as an 11-year-old and progresses into a high schooler, but chronology becomes less important as the show goes on. When Adam isn’t at school, he’s dealing with the antics of his family. The ninth season premieres this fall. 

Available to stream on Hulu.

11. “Ginny & Georgia

“Ginny & Georgia” is built like the 2020 version of “Gilmore Girls.” The series stars a single mother (Brianne Howey) and her daughter (Antonia Gentry) as they start life anew in a small New England town. The two grapple with the complexities of their own lives — Ginny at school and Georgia with her dark past — and their relationship with each other. The show was renewed for a second season.

Available to stream on Netflix.

12. “A.P. Bio

Former Harvard professor Jack (Glenn Howerton) begrudgingly takes a position as a high school teacher in his hometown in “A.P. Bio.” While there, he uses the students for personal quests, but they slowly begin to change him for the better. The fourth season premieres this fall.

Available to stream on Peacock.