I discovered Netflix’s sweet, small-time TV show “Everything Sucks” when my dad put it on while I was visiting home from college one weekend. We watched three episodes together before he got tired and went to bed. I stayed up and binge-watched the whole season — all ten 20-some minute episodes.
Needless to say, I fell in love with it. I can only describe the show as “Freaks and Geeks” meets the high school drama department. The show hit so close to home, reminding me of the quirky characters of my own high-school days, while also remaining refreshing in terms of sexual and racial representation on the screen.
Photo courtesy of ImperioSeries
“Everything Sucks” is set in 1996 when Luke (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) and his two best friends, Tyler (Quinn Liebling) and McQuaid (Rio Mangini), start high school. They decide to join the AV club where Luke immediately falls in love with Kate (Peyton Kennedy), the principal’s daughter. He awkwardly befriends her and then attempts to woo her. When she accepts him asking to be his girlfriend, Luke is over the moon. Only thing is, Kate is a closeted lesbian with a crush on the wild-haired, aspiring-actress Emaline (Sydney Sweeney).
The show reaches low-budget, cultish “Freaks and Geeks” proportions when the AV club is targeted by the drama club for ruining their sets. To save their own skin, Luke and Kate come up with the idea to help the drama club make a movie instead. So begins the chaotic, quirky, adorable adventure of making a bad (but kinda good) sci-fi movie.
It’s not so much the storyline as the prominence of LGBT challenges in the late-90s that had fans hooked, however. Kate goes through exactly what closeted men and women went through in finding their own sexual identity amidst the prejudice against homosexuals.
“There’s barely any representation for girlfriends in high school,” Peyton Kennedy told Buzzfeed in an interview. “There’s a bit of representation in older generations, but I think for the teens who are watching it who identify with these characters, they will be able to feel comfortable and hopefully [find] acceptance at the end of the show.”
Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed
Luke, a young African-American boy, also makes strides in representation on-screen as the main character of a TV show, which used to be relatively unheard of, especially in the 90s. His single mother (Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako) also makes strides, what with her healthy, loving interracial relationship with Kate’s dad, the school principal (Patch Darragh).
So, you can see how it totally sucks that “Everything Sucks” wasn’t picked up by Netflix for another season. Fans and the cast were adamantly petitioning for the renewal, with some fans even hanging a #RenewEverythingSucks sign outside Netflix headquarters.
Meanwhile, the CW’s “Riverdale” was renewed for a third season. The show, which started off in season one as a hit, quickly went downhill in season two with rip-offs of “Pretty Little Liars” storylines, as well as extreme over-sexualization, sexism, statutory rape, and more.
It’s sad to see that TV shows with more production value, such as “Riverdale,” survive renewal season, despite ethical dilemmas, and shows such as “Everything Sucks,” which have meaningful storylines and representation, are left to the ax.
As television viewers, we should take it upon ourselves to protest shows that sexily propagate everything that is wrong with our society and, instead, celebrate and support the shows that lovingly cherish and fairly represents our underdogs.