Ever since Friends dominated TV screens in the ’90s, the particular problems of twentysomethings have become front and center in media. Plenty of shows since then have focused on young adults’ search for financial security, career stability, and sexual viability, with the recent ones thankfully exhibiting more diversity and inclusivity than ever.
So if you’re looking for well-told and relatable stories that encapsulate this turbulent but truly memorable period in our lives, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, we round up the best quarter-life crisis shows you can watch right now. And don’t worry, this list does not include Girls, How I Met Your Mother, New Girls, Sex and the City, or Fleabag (they’re great but we know you’ve been told about them a million times).
American “dramedy” Atlanta is the work of mastermind Donald Glover, who you may already know without knowing – as a stand-up comedian, Troy Barnes from Community, or two-time Grammy nominated rapper Childish Gambino. It’s easy to tell from this list that Glover is a man of many talents. And Atlanta indeed feels like a complete use of his multifarious arsenal, he directs, writes, and plays the lead character.
Earnest “Earn” Marks Earn (Glover) is a 30-something, a highly intelligent, de facto homeless Princeton dropout striving to redeem himself in the eyes of his ex-girlfriend and mother of his baby. He reconnects with his cousin after learning that he is finding fame as the up-and-coming rapper “Paper Boi”.
The show is full of moments of absurdity and hilarious characters (look out for Darius, played by LaKeith Stanfield), but also offers a genuine look at modern life. A fun, sharp and unique show that can digress at any moment.
Leo Tolstoy’s most famous book, on which this was based, defies summarization but this powerful, sumptuous, and head-spinning BBC production might have done just that.
In 1805 St. Petersburg, the illegitimate son of the richest man in Russia (played by Paul Dano) finds himself at the center of his country’s downfall as it faces another Napoleonic invasion. As it follows several interconnected characters, romance intertwines with war, tragedy, and greed.
Directed by Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders), this series has it all: great acting, beautiful locations, and breath-taking action. It also stays true to the philosophical nature of the written material, capturing the glamour, deceit, and insanity of its time – as well as the sweeping scope of the original Tolstoy tome. This is TV of cinematic proportions!
The eponymous catastrophe follows a brief affair between Rob, a New York executive, and Sharon, an Irish teacher, during his business trip to London. She discovers her pregnancy after he returns to the US and decides to keep the baby. He eventually returns to London and hilarity ensues, while he navigates his new life in Britain, and she struggles to adapt hers to an uninvited and hopeless American.
Honest and spit-take funny, the show was a big hit on British TV and now made its transition to American and worldwide audiences. “Forty-nine percent autobiographical”, it was created, written, and produced by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, who met on Twitter in real life, as well as starring Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney as, you guessed it, Sharon and Rob, the show’s main protagonists. A product of the love of two very funny people, Catastrophe is the quintessential 21st century rom com.
Wild Wild Country follows the relocation of a hippie cult from India to Oregon in 1981. You haven’t heard of Wasco Country? Nor had anybody else back then. This ghost town with a handful of god-fearing inhabitants, soon became Rajneeshpuram, the cult’s new homestead, home to a thousand disciples, and the subject of nationwide media attention. Spoiler: the town’s old residents did not think much of it.
Will there be debaucherous orgies, long-haired drop-outs, preaching and chanting? Yes. But, through historical footage and interviews with contemporaries, including Ma Anand Sheela, the power-hungry secretary of the orange-clad guru, you will also be absorbed by chemical weapons and attempted murder, one of the biggest immigration fraud case in US history, and, of course, the mysterious and not-so-mysterious ways that a charismatic cult attracts and manipulates its followers. Across six one-hour episodes, this Netflix miniseries by brothers Maclain and Chapman Way gives a captivating, exhaustive, and powerful account of one of the stranger moments in American media history.
This gorgeous drama-thriller is set in bustling Istanbul where different characters, mostly women, cross paths.
And when I say gorgeous, I mean of the drop-dead variety. The cinematography is reminiscent of the Japanese style of Kazuo Miyagawa or Columbus director Kogonada.
And it’s all matched by the dialogue. The first episode follows a woman who lays bare her life in a first session with a psychologist. The story then moves on to her psychologist seeing her own clinician, mostly discussing how she feels about seeing veiled patients.
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