12 International TV Shows To Binge If You Miss Netflix's 'Élite'

We want more drama!
PHOTO: Manuel Fernandez-Valdes

If you haven't binged Élite, Netflix's addictive new Spanish teen soap, you should probably get started immediately...if only so you can appreciate the importance of these dance videos. For the uninitiated, Élite is basically The O.C. meets Gossip Girl, plus murder. After their public school is destroyed, three "lucky" students are sent to study at Las Encinas, the most exclusive private school in Spain. Let's just say the students there are less than welcoming. Oh, and don't forget the murder.

For those of you who have finished Élite, you're probably aching for Season 2. Sadly, while we might get more of those excellent cast videos, we won't be getting new episodes until late 2019. 

So, since you've already tipped your toe in the pond of the foreign teen drama, why not submerge yourself with these other must-watch, non-American series.

SKINS (2007 to 2013)

Skins is an OG of the "teens going wild" genre. Series 1 and 2 focused on a group of friends, led by charming sociopath Tony Stonem (Nicholas Hoult). Tony and the rest of the equally troubled teens deal with a laundry list of capital "I" issues, from drug addiction to anorexia to cancer.

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The cast of characters change every couple of seasons, but no matter what, Skins will hook you through its incredibly watchable actors—who could resist young breakouts like Dev Patel, Game of ThronesHannah Murray, and Jack O'Connell? Somehow the show's gritty aesthetic always managed to anchor even the most absurd sub-plots in reality.

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CLIQUE (2018)

BBC's Clique, which just made its U.S. debut on Pop TV, follows Holly and her BFF Georgia, childhood friends in the early days of university. Tensions rise when Georgia is courted by a group of "It" girls who are all a part of the same internship program...and totally spellbound by their popular professor Jude McDermid. When Georgia begins acting off, Holly becomes concerned and starts exploring they dangerous underbelly of the elite club.


Did you know the popular UK Netflix series The End of the F**king World is based on a graphic novel? Anyways, here is the plot for those of you who still haven't seen it: James, a 17 year old who thinks he's a psychopath, has been busy killing animals and decides he's ready to take it to the next level. He meets Alyssa, who he thinks will be a perfect first kill, until they run away together and feelings begin to bloom between them. Too bad a lot of other sh*t goes wrong on the road.

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SKAM (2015 to 2017)

Skam, a Norwegian teen drama, is particularly cool because it completely breaks the format of a typical television episode. Each season followed one character, beginning the weekly "episode" by posting clips, conversations, and social media posts on Skam's website that was put together at the end of the week.

Truly a series for Gen Z, viewers also follow the characters of the show on their own various social media profiles. Skam received accolades for its groundbreaking structure and its unflinching portrayal of sexual abuse and homosexuality. While reportedly ending due to high production stress, the U.S. has picked up the popular series. You can check out Skam Austin on Facebook Watch.

MY MAD FAT DIARY (2013 to 2015)

Set outside of London in the '90s, Rae is a 16-year-old who has just spent four months in a psychiatric hospital. When she gets out, she hides the truth about where she's been, claiming she was in France for the last four months to impress Chloe, her popular childhood bestie played by Killing Eve's Jodie Comer.

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My Mad Fat Diary breaks the mold as a teen show with a plus-size lead, with a refreshingly honest portrayal of mental health and body image struggles.

DANCE ACADEMY (2010 to 2013)

If you're a fan of Center Stage—and who isn't—you'll love Dance Academy. The show centers around Tara, a girl from rural Australia, who moves to Sydney to attend the National Academy of Dance. Throughout the three-season show (plus a movie), Tara befriends her eccentric classmates, gets into several romantic entanglements, and sharpens her dance skills.

MISFITS (2009 to 2013)

Misfits is another British teen show that gave us some of our favorite TV stars: From Robert Sheehan to The Good Doctor's Antonia Thomas to Iwan Rheon, who you might just know from Game of Thrones as the psychotic Ramsay Bolton.

For five seasons, Misfits follows a group of young criminal offenders who gain superpowers while working community service during a mystical hail storm. Imagine if a sexier, edgier X-Men merged with Skins, using its protagonists' powers as a way to delve deeper into damaged teen psyches. What do you think a quiet, awkward teenage boy would really do with invisibility, hmmm? Trust me, these kids are no Peter Parker.

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INSTANT STAR (2004 to 2008)

During the crux of the American Idol era, Canada created a fictional series about winning a reality show and the perils of fame that follow. Starring Alexz Johnson as Jude Harrison, an angsty acoustic guitar playing redhead, is plummeted into fame and managed by a former boy band member. Of course, the tumultuous relationship begins to evolve both professionally and romantically. The show probably would not fly today, but it is a great look at the perils of fame, plus the music is honestly pretty good.


Miss Buffy the Vampire SlayerCrazyhead might just be its most worthy successor. The series (which was sadly canceled after just one season) follows Amy and Raquel, two "seers" who battle demons only they can see. Raquel is a full blown, self-taught demon hunter, helping Amy deal with her so-called gift as they join forces to fight evil.

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CHEWING GUM (2015 to 2017)

While Chewing Gum might be a little bit out of the teen bracket, it's one of the best international shows about a woman in her early twenties, so it has to be on this list. Michaela Coel wrote the series and starred as Tracey, a super horny virgin who grew up in a fundamentally religious household. Tracey is dying to know more about the world and explore her sexuality, so you can expect a lot of really relatable, awkward hijinks.


From the creator of the aforementioned Skins, the British series Kiss Me First delves into the dark pit of online gaming. Leila is a lonely girl who spends most of her time online, obsessed with playing a VR game. In the game, she meets party girl Tess, who goes missing shortly after they become BFFs IRL. After Tess' disappearance, Leila goes deeper into the game to figure out what happened. Of course, what's really going on in the game is super f'd up. Think Black Mirror: The Teen Edition.

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Switched is a Netflix drama based on a Japanese manga series. When a popular girl Ayumi and her jealous classmate Zenko suddenly switch bodies, Ayumi is rightfully shook and determined to get her body back. But, she soon realizes that Zenko isn't going to be easily swayed into going back to her old life, kind of like a darker version of Freaky Friday. Zenko takes her "revenge" on Ayumi by living her life to the fullest, including hooking up with her boyfriend Koshiro (Jamie Lee Curtis would never).


This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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