Listen, I like a saccharine teen movie as much as the next person with a soul, but I’m always going to have some love for grittier depictions of teenagers. That’s probably because, frankly sometimes we want to watch movies that are a little more real, hit a little closer to home. 10 Things I Hate About You, Bring It On, and Easy A can only do so much in that regard. But movies like Kids or Thirteen? Um, yeah, that’s what I mean by gritty.
If you’re over teen rom-com fluff and need something a little darker in your life, check out these 13 movies for your next binge watching marathon.
KidsIf you're looking for the quinteccential gritty teen drama, you need to watch Kids. I mean, it was originally given a rating of NC-17 by the MPAA. Set in 1995, Kids follows the lives of a group of teens living, drinking, smoking, and screwing in NYC. Be prepared for a lot of AIDS references and performances from young Chloe Sevigny and Rosario Dawson!
Palo AltoUm, was this not every indie girl's ultimate movie of 2013? I don't want to give too much away, but this movie, starring James Franco, Emma Roberts and Jack Kilmer, includes a lot of questionable romance and a lot of drama. It'll either become an instant favorite or you'll never want to see it ever again. Check it out and find out what camp you're in.
Just Another Girl On The IRTIt's rare to see movies about black girls from the hood in which they're actually smart, strong, and independent. That's why Just Another Girl On The IRT is such a pleasure to watch. Plus, it's on Netflix, so get on it. No excuses.
Ginger SnapsIf you want grisly fantasy and horror with a heaping helping of feminism, this movie is for you. From everything from menstrual drama to accidental murder, you have to be okay with a whole lot of blood to enjoy this cult-classic.
PariahPariah is a brilliant movie about a black teen girl who is slowly starting to come out of the closet to her traditional, middle-class family. Throughout, she experiences progress and setbacks, romance, angst, and indecision. This movie gets real, y'all. Whether you're trying to find more queer narratives in film or you just want a good movie to watch, Pariah is a movie you must see.
GirlhoodThis movie about a squad of black girls from the projects of Paris is unlike anything you've probably ever seen before. There's a lot of sisterhood and a lot of drama, so watch it with your friends and see what you think. Warning: Rihanna will be stuck in your head after you watch.
ThirteenDrugs, sex, and middle school. Okay, that might not describe your seventh grade experience, but it's definitely the case for Tracy, a teen girl who is intrigued by a wild classmate named Evie. As you watch these girls go down the rabbit hole of self-destruction, you'll quickly realize that these are the kids your parents warned you about.
The CraftThe Craft is definitely one of the darker '90s teen movies out there. Sure, this story about a group of teen witches is super friendship oriented, but don't be fooled; this isn't just some girl power fun fest. Also, this movie will seriously make you question whether or not there's a fine line between light and dark magic. Get ready to argue with your friends about the ending.
Rebel Without A CauseThis might not be all that gritty by today's standards, but in the '50s? Teen angst really wasn't something that was deemed movie worthy. But James Dean's rebel spirit changed that and the teen movie genre forever. This is a classic that every human being needs to watch at least once in their life, so why not do it ASAP?
This Is EnglandRacism and friendship don't really seem like they go together, but those are both major themes of the movie This Is England. Set in the '90s, This Is England tells the story of a young boy who becomes friends with a group of skinheads. However, he quickly becomes embroiled with the darker elements of the subculture. If you're fascinated by the '80s, British culture, or really amazing music, you need to watch this movie like...now. Seriously, Google it, find a way to watch it, just do yourself this one favor, okay?
HeathersYou might not consider Heathers to be all that gritty, but compared to most teen comedies? Uh, it's dark af. Every generation needs a movie that exposes the dark side of cliques, and this one does a hell of a job at doing just that.
The Virgin SuicidesCome for the dreamy aesthetic, stay for the grim tale of...well, the title says it all, doesn't it? But it isn't a total spoiler. Watch the movie and find out what the real deal is.
Better Off DeadIf you have a morbid sense of humor, you might be interested in watching Better Off Dead. The premise is so grim that it's hard to imagine this film being made today: A teen boy is so devastated that his girlfriend dumped him for a jock that he tries to kill himself...multiple times. The failed attempts are played up for laughs, of course. However, suicide is nothing to be taken lightly. There are definitely resources out there to help you if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal ideation. Check out SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.
Are any of these movies one of your faves? What other teen movies should be on this list? Tell us in the comments!