Sex, Drugs and Music Joined by Sports, Religion and Animation as Major Themes Influencing YA Scripted Production

Among its slate of MipTV presentations, The Wit hosted its first-ever Fresh TV Young Adult Content. After the last series of in-person sessions hosted by The Wit at MipCom, the importance and influence of YA drama was unmistakable, inspiring this year’s MipTV dedicated session hosted by The Wit founder-CEO Virginia Mouseler.

“It’s our mission at The Wit to give our subscribers information and inspiration for creation and acquisition,” she said, explaining the new session’s inspiration.

“In the world of YA drama, ‘Euphoria’ is the reference for the genre,” she started, before noting that fans of the HBO super-series were left without a new season in 2020, leaving many to turn to Warner Bros’ “Generation,” similarly on HBO Max. Describe by Mouseler as a post-“Euphoria” series, “Generation” is far less tragic and far more tongue in cheek. It features a group of high-school students exploring and learning about their sexuality, life beliefs and the nature of family in a conservative community.

Crossing the Atlantic, Mouseler spotlighted a new Norwegian take on YA drama in Federation Entertainment’s “Delete Me,” launched on Viaplay in March of this year. Kicking off with the popular trope of a released sex tape, two teenagers are cyber-bullied resulting in tragic consequences. Playing with time, a bit like Netflix’s YA phenomenon “13 Reasons Why,” the series starts as tragedy strikes before going back to explore its causes.

Sticking in the Nordics but skewing towards the older end of YA, Rubicon, a Banijay Rights company, premiered “After Party” on Discovery Nordic just last month. The show unspools in the months after college dropout Selma moves in with her older sister and develops emotions for the older sibling’s boyfriend. The group attends eight vastly different parties over the summer months as the drama unfolds.

In Germany Constantin Television took a big swing at the YA market with “We Children from Banhof Zoo,” which premiered February of this year before striking a deal with Amazon Prime Video for the U.S., English-speaking territories, and all Europe’s outstanding major markets where it premiered last week. The series is a re-imagining of the best-selling autobiography by Christiane F. and eponymous cult film in 1981.

At the 2020 Berlinale Series Market, Variety announced that Beta Film was making a push of its own into YA scripted after acquiring international distribution rights and co-financing four high-profile fiction series, including Neuesuper’s “Echos,” which Mouseler featured in her presentation. Set in the world of underground nightclubs, tragedy strikes when a fire breaks out at a rave, unearthing a web of corruption that goes far higher than the club kids involved could have imagined.

Distributed by, “Girlsquad” is part coming-of-age drama and part thriller, unspooling over the summer in a beach town where a group of young friends will have their bonds of friendship put to the test. The series will launch later this year on Flash, the company’s VOD platform.

In the Netherlands, Dutch Features’ short form series “Mocro Maffia: Komtgoed” premiered in January of this year, spinning off the popular series “Mocro Maffia.” Focused on one of the parent program’s teenage characters, the show sees Zakaria, aka Komtgoed, arrested and put in a foster home as his personal life spins out of control.

No longer just for kids, not that it ever really was, adult and YA animation is experiencing a boom in popularity, fueled largely by audience demand and competition among streaming platforms for the imminently rewatchable content. Mouseler featured several animated series and films in her presentation, starting with “Reset and Rewind,” a series of animated shorts featuring the most popular rappers in the U.K. discussing mental health. The series is produced by Toad and Mother’s Best Child and available on All 4’s streaming platform.

Sticking in the cartoon world, Mouseler highlighted two animated properties from India, starting with Graphic India’s “The Legend of Hanuman,” a 3D animated retelling of the story of the Hindu monkey warrior-turned-god Hanuman streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar. Netflix’s “Bombay Rose,” a hand-painted love story set in the streets of Bombay, was originally meant to be seen in theaters, but distributor Cinestaan International instead sent the film to streamers when COVID-19 made a theatrical release impossible.

Mouseler shifted the presentation’s focus to the U.S. next, featuring Dennis Leary-led “Dogs Playing Poker” from Fox Entertainment, a series of football-oriented animated shorts based on the YouTube series “Poker Night” from Icebox, which was itself inspired by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’s 1900s art series, “Dogs Playing Poker.”

Wrapping things appropriately, the presentation finished with Russian series “Happy End,” turning on a young man addicted to online porn and his partner, a young woman who has never had an orgasm, as the two decide to make their love life public in an effort to scratch both itches.

While sex, drugs and rock & roll – or perhaps in this case EDM – still hold a great deal of appeal for YA audiences, it’s clear that the programming for such audiences is expanding and maturing. Sports, religion and history are all making significant impact on content produced for the demographic, with animated projects and period dramas being produced specifically focused on and intended for young people.

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