International teen drama dynamically gain attention



Heartstopper was released on Apr. 22, 2022, and the second season is in the making. The show tells the story of Charlie and Nick who become very close and begin dating, despite backlash from fellow classmates.

Derry Girls’s first season was released in 2018 and the third and final season was released on Oct. 7, 2022. The coming-of-age story follows a friend group in Ireland amidst the country’s violent conflict in the 1990s. (GOOGLE IMAGES)
Young Royals released its second season on Nov. 1, 2022, gaining international attention. The show tells the fictitious story of a Swedish prince who moves to a boarding school and forms new relationships with the students. (GOOGLE IMAGES)
Heartbreak High was released on Sept. 14, 2022, and earned a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The plot follows Amerie and Harper, two Australian best friends, as their friendship becomes more complicated and distant.

One of the most popular pastimes for high schoolers is watching dramatic shows on the lives of teenagers. As streaming services have grown to become the main source for television, many viewers have begun watching shows set in other countries. International teen drama shows are an easy way for viewers to experience and explore other cultures.

“I really liked Young Royals, and I like watching international shows,” Anika Bhatt (11) said. “I feel like they’re a lot different from American shows, and you get a glimpse into different cultures and what teenagers are like in other countries.” 

Every place has a unique culture and way of living, but most countries have a few things in common. Large features of a country, such as the government or economy, can be something that unites people who live hundreds of miles away from each other. Unfortunately, this includes the less desirable features, such as discrimination, as well. This is seen in the majority of shows and stirs the emotions of the viewer by reminding them of the similarities in their own country.

“If you’re poor in America, you’re still gonna be poor in the UK, so they portray it as like the poor can’t do certain things,” Aniya Jones (12) said, “And racism exists everywhere there’s no place you can go that race wouldn’t be a topic there.” 

Despite the clear difference of living in a different country, there are many smaller aspects of being a teenager exhibited in the shows that are similar throughout the planet. Many teenagers look to find personalities similar to their own, so a show succeeding in this is often met with success.

“I don’t feel like these characters’ issues are that different from our issues,” Kaylyn Leakes (9) said. “It’s not everyday that you would see someone doing certain acts, but it does happen a lot in the world and characters like this are a lot of characters that people can relate to.”

Though the characters are similar, there are still differences when it comes to production. With different writing methods, these shows have gained worldwide attention through their unique storytelling skills, bringing up debate on whether American set or internationally set shows are more enjoyable.

“I feel like in American TV shows they tend to make the characters more one-dimensional, and they try to add depth but the way they try to add isn’t well written,” Jones said. “And then with international shows I feel like they do a good job at keeping the character well rounded.” 

Along with improved character growth and development, international dramas give viewers insight to the country’s lifestyle. Many international shows are labeled as realistic because of stories based on experiences from the citizens of that country.

“There’s also the component of [international shows] being different because a lot of American shows are pretty similar with the plots being the same, characters being the same, like it’s kind of run through,” Jones said. “But I feel like international shows give you a new perspective on things you’ve already kind of seen before.” 

While comparing their lives, the audience can realize that there are similarities between people from different countries and create a sense of community and acceptance. Watching international dramas gives a unique experience that offers a different perspective from the more typically watched American set ones. No matter where shows are set, teen dramas are enticing to young audiences everywhere. 

“I think people in America and other countries should really be open to watching shows and consuming media from other countries, but be careful when you do that you’re not romanticizing the other country.” Bhatt said. “You have to always remember that the media that you’re getting from one country in another country is usually not exactly an accurate representation, but it’s really a great way to be interested in and appreciate other cultures.”