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Gen Z and Millennials’ Top 10 Favorite TV Shows Right Now

We ask Gen Z and Millennials which currently airing TV show is their favorite, and a brand-new name is topping the list… 


  • Of all currently airing shows, The Last of Us is now Gen Z and Millennials’ favorite overall
  • But Gen Z names Outerbanks as their personal fave, with a fast-paced season and characters their age driving its popularity
  • Streaming service originals dominate their list of favorites, with non-originals also hosted on top platforms

YPulse’s Media Consumption report shows 65% of Gen Z and Millennials say they’ve watched a TV series in the last week—making it their second top form of video content (just behind movies). And we know they’re fans of shows from every era of TV thanks to their access to it, finding nostalgic love for shows even before their time, especially young Gen Z. But for streaming services, and brands who want to connect with pop culture favorites, it’s important to know what’s being currently released, which platforms young viewers are flocking to, and what their favorite TV show of the moment is. 

We asked 13-39-year-olds what their favorite show that’s currently running is—and why—as an open-ended question, so brands can see not only what shows, and casts, are the ones to be in the know about, but also exactly what makes these shows break through the constantly high volume of new content there is to choose from. These are the top 10 currently airing shows Gen Z and Millennials name as their absolute favorite: 

Favorite currently airing TV show 


  1. The Last of Us 
  2. Outer Banks 
  3. You 
  4. Stranger Things 
  5. Grey’s Anatomy 
  6. Wednesday 
  7. Family Guy 
  8. The Mandalorian 
  9. Young Sheldon 
  10. South Park

The Last of Us took the top spot as young peoples’ favorite TV show 

The Last of Us is officially Gen Z and Millennials’ favorite currently airing TV show—knocking Netflix’s record-breaking Stranger Things out of number one status and down to number four. Being based on the wildly popular video game of the same name, this show demonstrates just how powerful mixing gaming and entertainment can be to win over young viewers. We’ve been saying this for a while, after all, as our Gaming data shows 65% of young people agree “I like seeing video game characters in commercials/advertising.” And when we ask young people why this is their favorite show, this is exactly the reason for many of them: one 25-year-old male says it’s their favorite TV show because “It’s a classic based off the video game that I played in my younger teens.”  

The show also marks the big return of the weekly release: debuting on HBO Max in January, The Last of Us had a live viewership of over 1M by its seventh episode, and clearly Gen Z and Millennials helped to boost that number. Though YPulse data shows 57% say they’d prefer to binge watch a show, The Last of Us clearly shows young people are willing to deal with the weekly cliffhangers for the right show. (Though, now that it’s between seasons, they can binge it over and over again.) 

A factor that also appears to be a draw for young people is the cast of The Last of Us—namely leading actors Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. One 38-year-old male tells YPulse this is their favorite show because “I enjoyed the game, and the show integrates a lot from the game. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey are great too.” But for others, it’s even more simple: a 25-year-old male say it’s they’re favorite just because “I love Pedro Pascal.” Pascal’s social media fandom certainly added to the popularity of the show’s weekly releases, and even after its season finale, he remains a favorite celeb for trends on TikTok. So, brands can remember that even if they haven’t paired up with a show for a collab or marketing, they can always tap favorite cast members.  

Streaming service originals once again dominate the list 

YPulse’s TV and Entertainment report shows 77% of young people use streaming services to watch TV series’ weekly or more often. So, when it comes to which currently airing shows are their favorites, it only makes sense that originals from streaming services would make it onto their list. Though most streamers also pick up full seasons of cable shows, and services like Hulu and HBO Max update weekly with several, the high-production streamer originals are really making their way into Gen Z and Millennials’ favorites. Of their top 10 favorite TV shows right now, six are streaming service originals, excluding only Grey’s Anatomy, Family Guy, Young Sheldon, and South Park. And these four are all available to stream (and binge) between Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+.  

Even more notably, three of their top five alone are Netflix originals, with the long run of Grey’s Anatomy also hosted on the platform, and only The Last of Us coming from HBO Max. Even when it comes to video content overall, competing with social media included, Netflix is the number one place Gen Z and Millennials watch video content weekly or more often—so their originals have permeated TV favorites for years (and will likely continue to).  

Gen Z and Millennials’ favorite current shows are much of the same, but in different orders 

Last year, Gen Z and Millennials agreed on several favorite TV shows—their top both being Stranger Things—and this year they share even more. Still, their rankings come in differently, driven by their relationships with the characters amongst other factors. But while Gen Z named more cartoons as favorites and Millennials had more high fantasy on the list last year, this year is stacked with dramas for both:  

Table showing Gen Z and Millennials' top 10 favorite tv shows that are currently airing, split by generation

Gen Z names Outer Banks as their new top fave 

Last year, Outer Banks fell fourth on Gen Z’s list of favorite currently airing TV shows. But now, with a new season fresh in their minds (and streaming history), it’s risen to take the number one spot. One 17-year-old male speaks for many Gen Z when they tell YPulse Outer Banks is their favorite show because it “Demonstrates the freedom of the teenage lifestyle and shows how important friendship is.” With the characters being a group of treasure-hunting, school-ditching teenagers, but ones who never leave one another behind, it’s easy for Gen Z to see a version of themselves in the characters—even if the story is a little more than unrealistic. Another 17-year-old female says it’s their favorite because “It’s exciting and funny. I never get bored watching it and there’s always plot twists.” YPulse data shows comedy and drama are the two top kinds of content Gen Z watch weekly, and this show has a balance of both that keeps them entertained and always onto the next episode. But Millennials rank it high as well, coming in at fifth on their favorite currently airing shows, though it wasn’t on their list at all last year. One 28-year-old female names Outer Banks as their favorite “because the characters are interesting and you are always wondering what happened next.” 

Outer Banks is yet another example of a cast that can draw young consumers to a brand, and there’s several examples already. American Eagle has especially leaned into the show and cast, marketing to Gen Z with a whole Outer Banks inspired clothing collection. And lead actress Madelyn Cline was one of the faces of American Eagles’ Members Only metaverse activation, appearing in Roblox avatar form with the branded avatar gear.  

The majority of these shows are new to their favorites ranking since last year 

Their other top favorite TV shows have changed significantly, too. In fact, only four shows stayed in their top favorite current shows since the last time we asked in October 2022: Stranger Things, Grey’s Anatomy, Family Guy, and Outer Banks. They’ve clearly been captivated by new shows like Wednesday, The Last of Us, and The Mandalorian—all of which are streaming service originals, and the latter two came out as weekly releases. And of these new shows, Wednesday especially was a hit with these gens on social media—it inspired several trends on TikTok and has made lead actress Jenna Ortega a brand partner in new campaigns.  

But, interestingly, some other long-airing shows have made their way up the list—presumably thanks to new seasons. Netflix’s original You assumed second place in Millennials’ favorite shows, and seventh in Gen Z’s, after over a year without new episodes and a two-part release for the fourth season. Young Sheldon, which has been airing since 2017, broke into Gen Z’s top 10, with season six currently underway. But it highlights something we’ve known and seen in their favorites before: they love shows with characters their age that they can relate to easily, and the show has so far covered The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper from ages 9-13-years-old, meaning he’s growing up right alongside young Gen Z. This goes to show that young viewers can take up a strong love for a show (even a cable original) at any point in its airing—especially thanks to the fact that they can easily catch up to it with its residence on HBO Max.