Best College Movies And Shows

The Best College-Set Binge Watches

Ah, college. That time in our life when we can sleep until noon, stumble to class in pajamas, and stay up until 2am watching weird art films. Often a period of continued adolescence, college is typically when people start to discover who they truly are and make some truly regrettable choices.  Connect With us to Watch Best College Movies And Shows 

In honor of  all the students, faculty, and staff starting their fall semester – and for everyone who wishes they were among them – we rounded up some of our favorite college set TV shows and movies.


The Story:  A group of college freshmen experience awkward romances, oddball professors, and keggers in their first year at the fictional University of North Eastern California in this short-lived network sitcom that aired from 2001-02, now available on streaming. 

Who’s in it:  Created by Judd Apatow before he hit the big time, the one-season show helped launch six future megastars: Kevin Hart, Seth Rogen, Jason Segal, Amy Poehler, Charlie Hunnam, and Jenna Fischer.   

Why Watch It:  Although Undeclared was largely overlooked when it aired, part of the reason can be chalked up to how the series unfolded, which for some reason was out of order. This meant that certain storylines flat-out did not make sense. 

Best College Movies And Shows
21st Century Fox

Thankfully, you can watch the series in its proper sequence now, and it’s the perfect double nostalgia trip, taking you back to the oughts and back to college. The show foregoes the snooty Ivy League settings favored by many films and TV series for a more realistic “every college.” The dorms look like real dorms, the students are served rice pudding from the cafeteria, and they learn important college lessons – like why you shouldn’t empty an entire keg and then try to drink all the beer before it goes flat.  

What makes the series so wholesome is the characters, who are genuinely sweet kids. Steven (Jay Baruchel) is dealing with his newly divorced sad sack dad, and the other freshmen invite him to join their party and talk him through his split. Ron (Seth Rogen) loves watching You’ve Got Mail. And even though Steven has feelings for Lizzie (Carla Gallo), he helps her ex-boyfriend woo her back. It’s a surprisingly feel-good sitcom, and we could all use a little more of that right now. 

Where to Watch it:  Prime Video 


The Story:  Three Black women at an overwhelmingly white Ivy League-esque school begin to uncover the university’s secrets and horrors in this taut film that explores racism, sexism, and the supernatural lore haunting a hallowed institution.  

Who’s in it:  Regina Hall (Support the Girls), Amber Gray (Grammy-winner for Hadestown), and Zoe Renee (Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes). The film is the directorial debut of screenwriter Mariama Diallo (Hair Wolf).

Why Watch It:  Let’s get this out of the way first: Master isn’t a perfect film. The plot isn’t as tight as it could be, the social commentary lacks clarity, and certain themes could be fleshed out. But the film, which is downright creepy, can hit home. 

Best College Movies And Shows
Amazon Studios

The story follows three leads:  Exuberant freshman Jasmine, who moves into a dorm room rumored to be haunted by a witch who marks a student to die every year. Newly arrived professor Gail, the school’s first Black “Master,” a kind of  Dean of Students, who struggles with being the “token” dean, and her best friend Liv, an English professor who may not be who she says she is. 

Writer-director Diallo excels at creating a sinister atmosphere. From mysterious lighting to twisted, snow-covered trees, I didn’t want to be anywhere near Ancaster. I jumped as maggots poured out of the mouth of a portrait, and when a decrepit arm stretched out from under a bed and scratched Jasmine’s arm. The town itself is equally disturbing, with mysterious townsfolk who dress and act as though they are living in the Puritan era. 

While the supernatural elements and hints of Ancaster’s racist past are frightening, Master’s real horror comes from its depictions of the more subtle everyday terrors of being a minority at a university full of privileged white kids. Jasmine’s ideas are frequently dismissed in class despite being more insightful than her Caucasian peers. She’s asked to write an essay about the racial undertones of The Scarlet Letter, which, as Jasmine points out, is a pointless essay. Being forced to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “classic” is tedious enough, but to be forced to make up an essay about race in it is horrifying to her, especially as there are so many excellent books that focus on race. As one of the only people of color in my graduate program, I felt for Jasmine. The number of microaggressions hurled at her on a daily basis is very real. 

Where to watch it:  Prime

Art School Confidential

The Story:  In this feature-length comedy-drama released in 2006, a first-year student at a prestigious art school quickly falls for an art model, but as the school year unfolds, he discovers that college life — and the art world — are not as innocent as they seem. 

Who’s in it:  Max Minghella (The Handmaid’s Tale), John Malkovich, Angelica Huston, and Steve Buscemi. 

Why Watch It:  Based on Daniel Clowes’s graphic novel of the same name, Art School Confidential begs the question: Does one really need art school to become an artist? For Jerome, an already talented artist, that question is debatable. Much like Clowes’s other work, Art School Confidential is filled with quirky characters like Jerome’s roommate, Vince, an Best College Movies And Showseccentric filmmaker who spends most of his time writing down ideas on notecards. Then there’s Broadway Bob (the always brilliant Steve Buscemi), who runs a cafe where students yearn to have their art hung on its walls. 

While the mystery subplot doesn’t entirely work (there is a serial killer on the loose), the film captures the inherent bullshit of arts school. I completed my Bachelor’s partially at an arts university (in creative writing), where I witnessed firsthand what young artists go through. While the creative writing professors were genuinely caring and realistic, holding each student to the same high standards, the same couldn’t be said for other departments. The worst of the lot is captured by John Malkovich, who is brilliant as Professor Sandiford, a washed-up artist who never made the big time, and takes his frustrations out on his students. He spends most of his time teaching on the phone with galleries trying to promote his own work. Thankfully, his character is counterbalanced by Angelica Huston’s character, who genuinely loves supporting the young artists. 

The way characters describe their art and act as though it will change the world also hit home for me. Every artist likes to think they will be the next great, but in chasing that dream, they can end up forgetting what made them create art in the first place. For the artists in Art School Confidential who have made it, their celebrity has weakened them.

Even if you’ve never been to arts school or worked in the art world, you’ll be able to relate to how pretentious and insufferable some people can truly be. 

Where to watch it: Kanopy, Pluto TV 


The Story:  On a whim, Felicity Porter drops her plan to attend Stanford as a premed student to pursue an arts degree at the fictional University of New York. Her high school crush, Ben, who she barely knows, is going to the school, and he mentions that he wishes he’d gotten to know her better. Through four seasons, one for each of Felicity’s years in school, we follow her romantic, social, and academic adventures in New York. 

Who’s in it:  Keri Russel (The Americans) launched her career as Felicity. Scott Speedman (Underworld) is Ben, and Scott Foley (Scandal) plays her R.A. Noel, another romantic interest. Jennifer Garner plays a fellow student (and met and married Foley after the show).  The show was one of the first from J.J. Abrams (pre-Alias) and executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard

Why Watch It:  Felicity is one of the few college-set TV shows to captured the magic of finding yourself. Sure, the 18-year-old’s decision may seem rash, but she’s not just moving to New York solely for a boy she doesn’t know. She needs to grow up, and the best way for her to do that is on the other side of the country, away from her controlling parents. 

Best College Movies And Shows
Warner Bros.

The series became a cultural touchpoint soon after it debuted, and sent applications surging to NYU, where it appears to be set. For older viewers, Felicity’s chance at reinvention was an idea they were familiar with – and likely nostalgic for. For younger viewers, Felicity was aspirational: at 18, she gets to move to the most exciting city on Earth and become an entirely new person.

At the same time, Felicity (especially in the earlier seasons) dealt with taboo topics rarely explored on teen shows, like date rape and consent, and deeper themes, like feeling guilty just for growing up.

Strangely, Felicity’s biggest pop culture moment came in the form of Russell’s looks – in particular her long, curly, blond locks. When Felicity chopped her hair off in the second season, it sent fans into a tizzy. Viewers had become accustomed to Felicity’s long locks and did not know how to handle her lack of them. Ironically, Felicity’s haircut perfectly fit the theme of reinvention and the rash decisions we make after a breakup.

Of course, The Haircut is not the only poor decision Felicity makes. She’s a relatable on-the-brink-of-adulthood heroine who helped lay down the path for other college-bound heroines. She admits that she has no idea what she’s doing, and that her decisions were rash. Watching Felicity again today, I was reminded of my own poor decision-making in college, and just how much I’ve changed. If you watch it, there’s a high chance you’ll be reminded of just how much you have grown, too. 

Where to watch it:  Hulu


The Story:  Set in Tamil Nadu, a South Indian state, the 2022 film follows Chakaravarthi, aka Don, an engineering student who later discovers he wants to be a film director. He struggles with his father’s impossible expectations of him, just as he clashes with – and ultimately leads a rebellion against – his university’s disciplinary officer.   

Best College Movies And ShowsWho’s in it:  If you’ve watched Tamil films before, you may recognize a few actors. Sivaka, Priyanka Arul Mohanrthikeyan, S.J. Suryah, and Samuthirakani appear in the film. 

Why watch it:  Don introduces a world that has often been overlooked in Bollywood films: the complex labyrinth that makes up the Indian education institution. A social critique of a system that parents put all their faith into, even when that may not be what best suits their children.

Yet Don can also feel a bit like India’s answer to Felicity, as it also delves into the nearly impossible standards parents place on their children and what happens when they don’t meet them. And while it could have been a bleak story, it’s actually a weird musical. It’s the kind of weird where hard left turns happen every 10 minutes and dance sequences are as commonplace as the engineering classes Don sometimes attends. At one point, he swerves around an elephant while racing through a thunderstorm. In another, he and his friends put on an entire production about what women want. It’s hard to tell exactly what Don and his friends think this is, and no one seems to care: the female characters just laugh at their sketch and dance to music. 

The musical explosion is what makes Don such an entertaining watch. A college kid busting out a choreographed dance with his buddies for no apparent reason? Why not. College itself is a strange experience, so you might as well dance and pursue all your passions. 

Where to watch it:  Netflix

Hello, My Twenties!

The Story:  Set in Seoul at a South Korean university, five different girls live together in an apartment they’ve dubbed Belle Epoque. They support one another as they navigate jobs, boyfriends, and questionable choices in this dramedy from the late 2010s. 

Who’s in it: Han Ye-ri (Minari).  Han Seung-yeon (Kpop group Kara). Park Eun (Extraordinary Attorney Woo), and Park Hye-su (Introverted Boss). 

Why watch it: Hello, My Twenties! will either flash you back to that time in your life, or if you are currently in your 20s, feel extremely relatable. Each leading lady is dealing with a different challenge. Yoon Jin-Best College Movies And Showsmyung (Han Ye-ri) is stuck working a series of pointless part-time jobs to pay for her schooling. Song Ji-won struggles to find a boyfriend who will take her seriously. Jung Ye-eun has an abusive boyfriend she can’t seem to escape.  The show never tries to glamorize what the girls are going through; instead, it’s rooted strictly in the reality most young Korean women face. While there are some more dramatic elements like murder (this is a K-drama afterall!), the focus remains on the girls’ bonds. And their endearing friendships may remind you of your own college friends. 

Where to watch it:  Netflix


The Freshman

The Story:  Harold Lamb wants one thing in life: to be the most popular man at college. Through a series of physical mishaps, he’ll stop at nothing to achieve this goal in this legendary silent era film released nearly 100 years ago.  

Who’s in it:  Harold Lloyd, one of the silent eras greatest comedians.  

Why watch it:  This is a film that your grandparents or maybe your great great grandparents would have watched, and it’s like an 80 minute time capsule into a past we rarely see.

Lloyd’s legendary comedic genius is on full display in The Freshman. Best College Movies And ShowsFrom getting tackled by every single member of the football team to splitting his pants at a dance, his antics will have you laughing the whole way through. In addition to Lloyd’s flopping around, the film also includes an endearing romance with Peggy, who’s described as “the kind of girl your mother was,” is always kind to Harold, even when his snooty classmates are not. Thanks to how wholesome it is, The Freshman is one of the only college films that can be enjoyed by the whole family. 

Where to watch it: Criterion Channel, Max

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