Netflix is the reigning king of romantic comedies. Hits like Set It Up and Dude may feel like Young-Adult novels, but there are actually only seventeen Netflix originals based on YA books. Not all adaptations are created equal, and for every To All The Boys I've Loved Before building the genre up, there's an Insatiable waiting to tear it down.
If you're looking for that "just read a trashy teen love story" warm, fuzzy feeling but don't have four hours to spend reading because of #MillennialBurnout, a Netflix YA adaptation might be exactly what you need. Check out our ~definitive~ and ~definitely official~ ranking to help you separate the trashy from the trash.
Things that people shouldn't do in the 21st century: make fun of fat people, statutory rape, and body dysmorphia. Things that Insatiable almost exclusively does its first season: make fun fat people, statutory rape, and body dysmorphia. Insatiable, starring Debbie Ryan (who must have been pretty desperate for work to accept this role), calls itself a dramedy not because it's even kind of funny, but because it tries to play off its penchant for punching down at every underdog in a thin attempt at "humor." It delves into difficult topics with the grace and depth of Bambi learning to walk in a kiddie pool and couldn't land a point if its second season renewal depended on it.
How Netflix's Death Note got a sequel is anyone's guess. The source material is legitimately compelling even if you think all manga is for nerds who will publicly admit to reading manga. The Netflix adaptation is... well, for one thing, it's white-washed to the point of racism. Nat Wolff should join the support group Emma Stone and Scarlett Johannson have definitely, *definitely* made to deal with their poor career decisions. It also loses all of the fun of the OG series and anime by trying to condense a complicated plot into less than an hour of content. And in addition to whitewashing the story, they also completely Americanized it and removed any cultural symbolism the premise had, making it another story about a disillusioned white man who goes on a mass murder spree and gets away with it. If viewers wanted to see society sympathize with white terrorists, they could just watch the news.
iBoy gets the 15th spot on this list not because it's objectively better than Insatiable or Death Note, but because it isn't inherently offensive. Yay? The issue with iBoy isn't the teen superhero premise, which worked as a book, or Maisie Williams's awesome performance. It's just kinda meh. iBoy tries to go for gritty realness and instead gets "boring made-for-tv" realness. It would have worked if it wasn't for what one reviewer described as "persistent and disconcerting joylessness." People didn't go see Deadpool for its dark, nihilist take on cancer... they just wanted to watch a guy with superpowers make penis jokes. iBoy could have used a little more d*ck and a little less Dick Powell.
There are two types of grown-ups: the ones that still watch Disney Channel Original Movies, and the ones that don't. If you fall into the former category, you might actually enjoy Coin Heist. A weak premise and a cast of teen stars and internet celebrities tied in a shiny little package, Coin Heist's joy is in its inherent badness. Based on a screenplay that was turned into a book that was then re-adapted into a screenplay, Coin Heist was directed by a 24-year-old woman, so even if you walk away from the movie feeling like you should have spent your time doing something more productive, at least you spent roughly an hour and a half supporting female directors.
Sophia Amoruso's book #Girlboss wasn't technically a Young Adult novel, but it was definitely a work of fiction. No tea, no shade, but Sophia got ousted from her own company for not having a clue what she was doing. Called "Neflix's first truly terrible show" by Vanity Fair, maybe the makers of the Girlboss television series went method and decided to forget how to do their jobs, too. Girlboss ignored all of Sophia's flaws and, you know, *reality* in favor of creating an eternal monument to what old people think millennials are like: opportunistic, entitled, and narcissistic.
This series is for those of us with an emphasis on "young" and maybe an inherent rejection of "adult," but it's so freaking cute. Actual grown-ups may have read the original series as kids and will love this trip down memory lane. Parents (and bored adults looking to reclaim their inner child) have said the series is as fun for them as it is for their kids on Common Sense Media and that The Worst Witch is a genuinely enjoyable series. Although the series predates Harry Potter, fans of the worldwide phenomenon may see some welcome similarities between Harry Potter and this lighter series about a British all-girls boarding school for witches.
Nick Hornby is best known for his *Adult* Adult romances About A Boy and High Fidelity. Slam's source material follows a teenaged skateboarder who accidentally knocks up his ex-girlfriend. He also talks to a poster of Tony Hawk that responds to him, but that's beside the point. It would have been awesome if Nicholas Hoult, who narrates the audiobook, could have played the anti-hero, Sam, but oddly enough, Slam is one of Netflix's foreign ventures. With the success of Elite, that shouldn't be a problem for the streaming generation, who seems to use subtitles all the time anyway.
The Fundamentals Of Caring gets points for starring Paul Rudd, who could make any film watchable. Additional bonus points come from the inclusion of Selena Gomez, a teen idol who's so pretty you'll probably forget what movie you're watching at some point, and the classic "road trips are fantastic learning experiences" trope. It's funny and sweet in equal measure, with just a dash of depressing, but its lack of originality sticks it solidly in the middle of the pack. Fans of teen indie dramas like The Way-Way Back, Little Miss Sunshine, or anything related to John Green won't be mad they watched Fundamentals, but they might wish they'd just watched The Perks Of Being A Wallflower again instead.
It's too soon to tell whether The Umbrella Academy will be as popular with audiences as it has been with (most) critics, but the current consensus is that The Umbrella Academy is a faithful adaptation of the graphic novel by former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way that maintains its touching oddball spirit and that deviates from the source material (and superhero genre conventions) in a way that only serves to deepen the original premise. It might be worth a watch just for Ellen Page and Mary J. Blige, who appears as a time-traveling hitwoman and agent of the apocalypse.
13 Reasons Why could, hypothetically, be higher on this list. It also, hypothetically, could have not scarred its audience for life with an unnecessary and brutal depiction of a guy getting raped with the end of a broom. But it did. It also showed what was described as a 'how-to guide for suicide' during its first season and makes everyone who watches it feel extremely depressed. Still, the production value is pretty high. 13 Reasons Why features strong performances and a storyline that is every bit as compelling as it is disturbing. Like a slow-motion crash, it's impossible to look away.
This movie should be called Sierra Burgess Is A Catfish. Truth in advertising, people! You'll either watch Sierra Burgess Is A Loser for Noah Centineo, because you loved the inherently-better To All The Boys I've Loved Before, or you'll watch for Kristine Froseth because you're biding your time until she appears as Alaska in Hulu's foray into YA-novel adaptations, the long-awaited Looking For Alaska. Either way, you'll watch it. It's enjoyable, but the premise is too cringy to inspire repeat viewings and viewers will leave with an icky feeling. Being weird isn't an excuse to manipulate people, being jealous isn't an excuse for being a bad friend, and being a human being with eyes isn't an excuse to kiss Noah without his consent.
I don't think anyone expected The End of the F***ing World to be universally adored, but Rotten Tomatoes does not lie. With a 98% Fresh certification from critics and a 90% approval rate from audiences, this extremely dark teen coming-of-age follows an existential teen girl and her self-diagnosed psychopathic boyfriend who may or may not murder her. It doesn't sound like a recipe for widespread acclaim, but here we are. The characters are weirdly lovable, the story is well-executed, and it's inherently binge-able. Even if you don't think you'll like it at all, you probably will. Even though it's chilling in the #5 spot, The End of the F***ing World is probably the only entry that can be considered a work of art.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina still needs to find its footing, but its first season set the series up to surpass its beloved predecessor, Riverdale, in terms of quality, story, and performance. Its cast became instant social media stars and its world-building was masterful. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was highly reviewed by critics, Ross Lynch is now a teen heartthrob, and its very-in witchy motif will make viewers want to live like its Halloween every day. With the second season positioned more grounded in the direction of its character development, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina may prove to be Netflix's best Young Adult-oriented series ever.
Ranking Dumplin' as Netflix's third-best YA-adaptation might be a controversial move, but this coming-of-age story is quintessential young adult gold. The audience is immediately transporting into Dumplin's small-town world and is reluctant to leave when the credits start rolling. ~Quirkily~ set to a Dolly Parton soundtrack (often performed by Dolly Drag Queens), watching Dumplin' is like eating ice cream on a summer day as the first day of school slowly approaches. Its male lead is appropriately endearing, its character conflicts are believable, and it leaves you with that just-read-a-good-book fuzzy golden glow. Dumplin' is the opposite of Insatiable — compassionate, thought-through, and impactful. This is how you do a movie about a plus-sized lead.
To All The Boys I've Loved Before is nothing short of a worldwide phenomenon. The plot is an original take on teen tropes, and after you finish it, you'll probably just watch it again. And again. And again. This is peak teen romance, and teen romance is the cornerstone of YA content. This is what we're here for! The only thing preventing this high school fairy-tale from taking the top spot is its deviation from its source material. TATBLIB takes from the OG novel and its sequel to create its plot, probably because the creative team never dreamed the film would become popular enough for its fans to demand a sequel. It'll be interesting to see how the TATBILB sequel navigates plotlines that were moved around or condensed when it's released in 2019. Someone pass the Yakult!
If Netflix is the king of YA rom-coms, The Kissing Booth is its crown. Light-hearted without being patronizing, The Kissing Booth stays true to its loyal core audience, including some of the Wattpad-turned-novel's most YA-tastic moments, like Elle discovering Noah's Superman boxers, showing up to school in a too-short skirt ~totally by accident~, and falling for the wonderful "falling in love with your best friend's older brother" trope. Audiences not looking for a real YA-romance will absolutely hate this film, which is how you know it's fantastic if you want something that's a total wish-fulfillment, so-bad-it's-good trashy masterpiece. And if that isn't what you're looking for, then maybe Young Adult fiction isn't for you, you boring old person.