Like the turnover of the seasons, change seems to be the only constant. And our twenties are characteristically defined by these changes, introducing us to an arena of new responsibilities—new social customs, financial stress, maintaining personal and social relationships, finding or making home in a new setting—all of which keep our emotions and values in a constant state of flux. The youth are faced with this array of tangible troubles while still persisting in a space of figuring things out.
While we may not always receive the best advice or be able to implement them for favorable outcomes, we can always find comfort in relating to the flawed characters on screen. To help cushion your growing pains, here are twenty- five of the best TV series that capture the greys of your twenties perfectly
1. Dear White People (2017)
Written, directed, and co-produced by Justin Simien, this show highlights the perspective of several black students as they strive to pave their personal and professional paths at an Ivy League school, set against the background of escalating racial tensions. It brings to the screen the nuances of several subjects, including cultural bias and slippery politics within a “post-racial” climate, while using sharp humor to navigate the same.
2. Age of Youth (2017)
This show centers on five housemates and college students when they come together at the house Belle Époque. All of them embody entirely distinct personalities, naturally clashing and bonding over the insecurities and rites of adult life. The stories are played out with depth and narrate a cohesive tale of growing up in your twenties.
3. We are Lady Parts (2021)
Taking a much more silly note, with speedy, trail-of-thought narrations and monologues, wholesome arguments, and entertaining rituals, this show depicts the British-Muslim experience through the members of an all-girl punk band. Produced by Nina Manzoor, the show allows its characters to practice their faith and be anti-establishment at the same time, however conflicting the two worlds may seem to be. The show is inspiring in the sense that it is about making space and relentlessly pursuing an area that traditionally doesn’t accommodate you.
4. Search Party (2016)
The show dropped during peak millennial culture and takes on a self-mocking tone, taking itself seriously in its first half and then becoming completely absurd on the flip side. The main four are introduced as the cream of the crop millennials, who are privileged, well educated, self-absorbed, and ignorant of the world around them. As the plot progresses, they commit heinous acts and display flaky morality, but justify themselves at every step. They are horrible people, but with humor and insights into their processing, the audience realizes how they might be similar to them. It encourages the audience to engage with the behavior of the character without providing any moral outs for supporting them.
5. Bojack Horseman (2014)
The struggles of Bojack Horseman are not specific to an age group, and the common themes of trauma, mental health, and addiction are effectively portrayed through this animated series. The main character is a drunkard and narcissist with a wounded masculinity. He makes bad decisions over and over, and in every episode, the show tries to highlight the remaining humanity in him. Unlike what is seen in many a media, the show continually takes on a brutal tone in its depiction of serious issues, highlighting the ugly side of high-functioning depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
6. I May Destroy You (2020)
Amidst exploring and trying to make sense of a traumatic event, the show lays out the ripple effects of the event and how the character finds her courage to not just acknowledge a fear but confront and absorb it, according to creator and actor Michaela Coel. In her journey of understanding, she is forced to reassess every aspect of her life, from friends, family, and career to her relationship with social media and the ways in which she loves and is loved.
7. Queer Eye (2018)
Queer Eye takes on a much more tropical and sunny note, keeping the spirits high with the Fab Five. Tan, JVN, Karamo, Bobby, and Anthony give fashion and lifestyle makeovers to people, showing them with depth all the ways one can love themselves and why it is important to do so. While your twenties are a turbulent time that can be confusing, Queer Eye is filled with all the love and warmth that can lift the viewers’ spirits back up.
8. Sex and the City (1998)
Glamorous skyline shots and designer ensembles aside (even though they are enough to hook a viewer), Sex and the City is in constant conversation about sex lives and relationships with friends, lovers, and yourself. The four main characters are vividly different, with opposing perspectives on the subjects, yet they come together every time to show up as the only constant through their whirlwind lives. While it may not be relatable at face value, it makes the audience at ease with embracing sexuality, embracing being single, and always roots back to the support of friendships.
9. Ramy (2019)
Ramy is a point-of-view comedy based on the life of a son of immigrant Muslims in New Jersey. Produced by Ramy Youssef, it portrays his contradictory character caught in the middle of two worlds and torn between faith, community, and fitting in.
10. Modern Love Mumbai (2022)
The series is one of three Indian adaptations of the Modern Love series. The series itself is a retelling of six stories about human connection featuring people from different faces of life and the depiction of love itself, in whatever big or small form, including romantic, platonic, parental, marital, sexual, or self-love.
11. Chewing Gum (2015)
It is a British comedy by Michaela Coel, featuring curious main character Tracey, who is born into a hyper-religious family but is growing obsessed with sex. It documents the jocular mishaps of her neighborhood in London, including her pious mother and goober sister, her sanctimonious ex-boyfriend, and her best friend Candice. In a comedically inventive way, it shows the twenty-somethings trying to float through the days of their slow-moving lives.
12. Undone (2019)
In the wake of surviving a nearly fatal car accident, Alma discovers new powers that she has gained, which unravels a surreal journey to find out the secrets surrounding her father’s death. Produced by the team that worked on Bojack Horseman, it evokes a long existential crisis as the show examines the character’s mental state through dreamy visuals through the process of rotoscoping.
13. Crashing (2016)
Before the gritty Fleabag came Crashing, a tale of a group of broken tenants that occupy an abandoned hospital for home and strive to keep up their social and professional lives. Despite being a short series, the well-fleshed characters entertain as their differing personalities clash and come together in beautiful situations defined by rules, sneaky relationships, and wholesome dinner rituals. It made it to our picks of comedies that should be on your watchlist !
14. Atlanta (2016)
Created by polymath Donald Glover, the series follows Earn as he tries a hand at being a manager for his rapper cousin, who goes by “Paper Boi”, navigating the hip-hop scene in Atlanta and the intrinsic experience of being young and black in America through sometimes absurd, sometimes comical situations based on reality. The show touches on themes surrounding social and economic issues, interlaced with race, relationships, poverty, status, and parenthood.
15. Community (2009)
Backtracking to Donald Glover’s past, he stars in Community as a member of a motley, supposedly study group, of six college students. A fraudulent ex-lawyer, a zealous jock who peaked in high school, a sixty-year-old heir of a toilet paper empire, a churchgoing mother with a penchant for gossip, a lazy and misdirected activist, an extreme film geek, and an overachieving student with compulsive control issues come together and go through a college experience unlike any other. Through its comedy, the show reflects on how the modern world wears on individuals and affects social relationships.
16. Anne with an E (2017)
The show is a period drama based on the classic novel Anne of Green Gables and accounts the vivid adventures of vivacious orphan Anne after she is taken in by the sober Cuthberts. Though the main character starts out in the prime of her childhood, the show is a brilliantly acted-out story of resilience, transformation, and the continuous striving to find joy in one’s circumstances. With darker undertones, it addresses subjects that twenty-somethings can relate to, including dealing with periods of loneliness, the troubles of not fitting in, societal norms and hypocrisy, and more.
17. Pure (2017)
This show is about a young Scottish woman and her piercing and intrusive thoughts about sex that lead her to move to an entirely new city and ensue a series of mistakes. Exhausted by her helplessness, Marnie tries multiple methods to figure out and deal with her condition, progressing and failing as she learns to accept her obsessive-compulsive disorder. The show is another frank depiction of the brittle nature of one’s mental health and how it can affect one’s life.
18. Kota Factory (2019)
The show tracks back a little to the period that traditionally forms the foundation of one’s twenties. Centring on the infamous culture of coaching institutions, the black-and-white narration depicts young students’ strenuous struggles as they prepare for entrance exams (NEET and JEE). The struggle of survival and competition is one most people in their twenties can relate to, as they make their way in the professional world while still being plagued by the realities of their lives’ situations.
19. Tuca and Bertie (2019)
The animated comedy series features two anthropomorphic bird women who live together in the metropolis of Bird Town. One is a cocky and impulsive toucan, and the other is a frantic, career-minded thrush. The story follows their friendship as they surf through the ups and downs of life.
20. Aggretsuko (2018)
The Japanese animated series is wholly about a frustrated office worker red panda, called Retsuko and all the rage she harbors towards her job, her sexist boss, weird colleagues, annoying mothering, society, and daily inconveniences. At the end of every day, she vents her anger through the routine of death metal karaoke at the local bar, and the show thrives on situational comedy and is laced with personal narration of complaints and comebacks, set to the cranky “tune” of death metal.
21. It’s a Sin (2021)
The story is set against the HIV/AIDS epidemic and focuses on a tight-knit group of young gay men and their friends in the city. It was described by The Guardian as a joyful yet devastating series that addresses conversations, both political and personal, about the realities of living through the period of the devastating disease.
22. Sex Lives of College Girls (2021)
Produced by Mindy Kaling, the story is about four freshmen who start their college journey excited about all the different aspects that usually define the campus experience. Although it is inclusive of a range of different situations and facets of college life, like the title suggests, it is quite raunchy. The show deals with topics like coming to terms with one’s sexuality, navigating newfound freedom, the struggles of juggling jobs and academics due to financial needs, and unjust treatment from upperclassmen and those in power.
23. High Fidelity (2020)
Based on the 1995 novel of the same name, the show stars a cool young woman who runs a record store. Through music, she re-accounts and contemplates her past relationships to get over the all-too-relatable, all-consuming pain of a breakup.
24. Adventure Time (2010)
This animated series will pull both children and adults alike with its random whimsicality, well-fleshed characters, and endearing back stories as they evolve in the post-apocalyptic land of Ooo. The pure bonds between the characters and the intricately drawn-out storylines, with the underlining theme of friendship against the changing world, make it a comforting watch for audiences.
25. Ted Lasso (2020)
To end on a most positive note, Coach Lasso embodies a personal life coach as he plays the role of a newly appointed manager of a local British football team and changes things one at a time with his unrelenting optimism. The show highlights how every character with distinct personalities and pasts unite, each playing an equally important strength of their own. There is not a more wholesome show to watch to feel motivated and ready to take on the world with a brave face.