Coming-of-Age Tales: Top 5 Bildungsroman Series to Binge

Coming-of-Age Tales

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Aren’t we all trying to find a place in the vast world?

Sure, it is difficult.

As a child, first loves, family drama, friendships, and growing up could feel like an overwhelming task. Regardless of everything, we all grow up, and as the best bildungsroman TV series proves, Despite every challenge, we all emerge in one piece.

In this article, we have hand-picked five amazing coming-of-age TV series. These characters have witnessed a myriad of life struggles and changes. From confronting supernatural forces to witnessing a transformation of the nation, changing society, and first loves, to navigating relationships and confronting personal demons. Each series mentioned below paints a picture of growth amidst life’s turbulence.

But first, let’s understand–

What Does Bildungsroman Mean?

Bildungsroman, or Coming-of-age, is a genre in literature that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood. The story navigates the challenges, lessons, and experiences, shaping their identity and worldview.

The stories depict the characters facing major life decisions and walking down the path to self-discovery as they transition from youth to maturity.

Bildungsroman TV series explores themes like self-acceptance, independence, identity, and the complexities of human relationships. Some TV series are considered bildungsroman stories to portray the character’s personal growth as the main element of the narrative. The setting can be that of high school or a fantasy world where characters undergo change over time.

Anne With an E (2017-2019)

IMDb: 8.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

The adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s ‘Anne of Green Gables‘ series follows the adventurous life of Anne Shirley, or rather Anne Shirley Cuthbert.

The imaginative, witty, spirited orphan who grows up on Prince Edward Island. The series beautifully captures her journey from childhood to adulthood as she faces multiple challenges on her way to growing up.

‘Anne With an E’ won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Dramatic Series in 2017 and 2018. The series is based on themes ranging from orphaning, psychological trauma, child abandonment, gender inequality, homosexuality, religion, racism, bullying, conformity, and freedom of speech, which makes it worth watching.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-present)

IMDb: 8.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

The comedy series ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ is a Bildungsroman series as this show follows the journey of Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a housewife in the 1950s. The protagonist discovers her talent for stand-up comedy.

In the series, Midge transforms from an obedient suburban housewife into an independent and confident comedian, breaking free the societal norms and expectations to pursue her career. Throughout the series, she is challenged in this male-dominated field. The story navigates complex family dynamics and gains an understanding of her identity and aspirations.

In 2017, ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ received the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. In 2018, this series received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.

The Crown (2016-present)

IMDb: 8.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

‘The Crown’ is viewed through a Bildungsroman lens, although the series has a unique take on the genre. The central character here is not a young person but Queen Elizabeth II. The series delves into her early years and as a queen to her reign, in which the viewers explore her personal and political growth.

In the series, Queen Elizabeth is shown to have faced political dilemmas, crises, and family conflicts, all of which contribute to her Bildungsroman.

‘The Crown’ is a unique Bildungsroman since it focuses on the lifelong growth and queen’s maturation, intersecting her personal development and responsibilities as the monarch in the everchanging world.

‘The Crown’ has received various accolades, including 63 Primetime Emmy Award nominations for the first four seasons! The series won 21 awards, including Outstanding Drama Series (for 4th season). The show has twice won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama.

The End of the F***ing World (2017-2019)

IMDb: 8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

This series can be categorized as a Bildungsroman with a dark and unconventional turn. ‘The End of the F***ing World’ observes the journey of two teenagers, namely James and Alyssa, embarking on a road trip filled with self-discovery and dangers.

In the beginning, James was a self-diagnosed psychopath who wanted to explore murder. However, as the story proceeded, he transformed. After interacting with Alyssa, he confronted his own emotions and reevaluated his worldviews.

Alyssa was a rebellious and impulsive girl who matured throughout their journey. She dealt with her troubled family and navigated her changing relationship with James.

The story explores the growth of these two characters as they go through the complexities of life, love, and the consequences of their actions.

The series has been praised for its execution, the subject matter, and the protagonists’ performances. It was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series in the year 2020.

The Queen’s Gambit (2020)

IMDb: 8.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Another Bildungsroman series focusing on the personal development of the protagonist is ‘The Queen’s Gambit’. The main character, Beth Harmon, is an orphaned chess prodigy who follows her journey from a young girl struggling with addiction and isolation to a confident and accomplished chess player who takes on the male-dominated world of chess!

‘The Queen’s Gambit’ explores themes of identity, self-discovery, and resilience. Beth’s relationships, her pursuit of excellence in a highly competitive field, and her struggles with substance abuse all contribute to her Bildungsroman. The series presents a compelling narrative, which makes it a must-watch!

‘The Queen’s Gambit’ TV show has won 11 Primetime Emmy Awards. It has also won 2 Golden Globe Awards for Best Limited Series or Television Film and Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film.

Closing Thoughts

The TV series mentioned above offers diverse settings and characters who delve into their personal growth and psychological development, making them successful Bildungsroman stories. By offering the viewers a range of perspectives on the coming-of-age experience from different periods, these TV series make compelling choices for the fans of this genre.

What is your favorite Bildungsroman TV show? Let us know!

Banner Image Source: Netflix, Prime, Rottentomatoes


About Author

Nitya Jain is an enthusiastic content writer and a life-long learner with an undying curiosity to explore new things. She loves fresh humour, just like her tea! When not writing, you'll find her raiding book stores or hopping cafes in town.

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