Domestic Girlfriend enjoyed something of a splash moment when it came out in 2019. Prominent anime YouTubers outed themselves as avid viewers of the controversial show which features a love triangle between a teenage boy and his two step-sisters, one of whom is also his high school teacher. I finally gave in and watched it recently and, honestly, I can understand the appeal.
The show, of course, features plenty of fan service but it's also the kind of messy drama that has drawn in viewers across genres for decades. More than that, there's an authenticity to the characters' emotions and actions even if there likely isn't much to their situation. (I never had a step-sibling so YMMV.)
If you remember being a teenager, you remember how awkward and uncomfortable the entire experience can be. You remember making incredibly boneheaded decisions from time to time. The scenarios in Domestic Girlfriend aren't realistic, but their actions and reactions are often painfully so.
If, however, you are a bit leery of the fan service aspects or the taboo nature of Domestic Girlfriend's plot but still want to see some painfully accurate teenage behavior powered by realistic-seeming emotions, you should check out My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
Or hey, even if you aren't leery of those things but want more of that sort of thing, you can still check it out!
One way in which SNAFU is instantly and immediately superior toGirlfriend is that it has three whole seasons, and the story is complete without having to go to the manga to see how things end up. Also, our male protagonist, while occasionally dumb, is not quite as ridiculously stupid and awful as the boy we follow throughout Girlfriend.
The girls, too, are more intelligent. It turns out you don't have to be a complete moron in order to make bad choices and create drama, even if some people really are. Finally, there is a greater focus on humor versus drama. There's still plenty of drama to go around, but it makes for a more pleasant experience with more laughs and light-heartedness. If you're anything like me, you can appreciate the break from the doom and gloom that pervades Girlfriend.
As noted, the scenario is a bit different in SNAFU, too. In this show, we have three horribly awkward teenagers. None of them know how to make friends, but one well-meaning teacher forces them together in order to help them figure it out. Over the course of time, the three develop a strong bond that threatens to break apart if any allow a romance to be formed.
It might be a simple premise but there are many layers and strands beneath the surface that give it a living texture and cause you to feel sympathetic to all of them. If you are the kind of person who feels parasocial relationships with your fictional characters as I do, you'll also be quite glad you know these goofballs and wish them the best.