Coming-of-age stories do not belong to your straight white male lead anymore.
For way too long, stories about adolescent epiphanies have belonged to white males. “Catcher in the Rye,” the fictional father of white angsty teens, has a place in my 12-year-old heart. Still, it didn’t change the fact that Holden Caulfield is a privileged white boy angsting in Pencey Prep.
As a young brown Filipina, I, too, deserve to project my agony to a fictional character that is not a cisgender male. Where are our stories?
Lucky for Gen Z kids out there, they don’t need to go through what Y2K teenagers experienced. We are not swimming in a sea of coming-of-age stories dedicated to one demographic anymore. You’ll be surprised at how many films and series are dedicated to telling our stories beyond the white lens.
Before I keep ranting my ass off, here are some diverse coming-of-age shows you can project your angst on.
“On My Block”
Trust in the squad, indeed. “On My Block” is such a unique, underrated coming-of-age show. We follow Monse, Ruby, Jamal and Cesar as they go through their high school life amid puberty and the biggest heist that will test their friendships.
“Dear White People”
The film? Great. The series? Amazing AF. “Dear White People” centers around Samantha White, a biracial radio DJ infamous for her eponymous campus show. She tackles issues plaguing our not-so-post-racial society like cultural bias, social injustice, misguided activism and slippery politics. On top of surviving in a predominantly white Ivy League college, Sam and her friends also have to wade through your average college drama: dating, self-discovery and the like.
The plot of this classic K-drama is simple: Students all around South Korea have to survive as one big happy family under a boarding house. It follows a nonlinear storyline, shifting from 1994 to 2013. It’s one of the highest rated dramas in SoKor—and is a definite must-watch.
Every post-“Skins” generation is looking for its flag show. If millennials had “Skins,” Gen Z kids have “Euphoria.” It follows a 17-year-old drug addict named Rue as she tries to go back to her old high school life post-rehab. This show tackles multiple themes like drug use, sexuality, high school politics and mental health. It’s a pretty heavy show NGL but it’s an amazing take on what growing up means now.
“Never Have I Ever”
This show is hella thirsty, like most of us are. “Never Have I Ever” is about a first-generation, Indian-American girl named Devi who wants to gain control over her life after losing her father. How does she plan to do that? By focusing her energy on her dating life and climbing up the high school social ladder.