If you are an avid Netflix watcher like me, you have probably heard the buzz around the new coming-of-age comedy, I Am Not Okay With This. With only seven episodes at around twenty minutes each, this is the perfect series to watch in one sitting on a lazy Sunday. Who says you can’t treat yourself to some Netflix before midterm season starts?
I Am Not Okay With This is set in a small town in Pennsylvania and follows Sydney Novak, who often goes by “Syd,” her best friend Dina, and the strange yet endearing boy-down-the-street, Stanley Barber. Sydney describes herself as a “boring 17-year-old white girl” and falls into the typical angsty teen trope perfectly, demonstrated by her multitude of snarky comments about the `popular’ kids at school, a dry, her self deprecating sense of humor, and an androgenous sense of style. She goes through many normal coming-of-age happenings, like friendship drama, first relationships, family troubles, acne, and emerging sexuality. However, Sydney has a secret: she has superpowers. When angry, Sydney has the ability to perform telekinesis, which extends from making a crack in the wall to knocking down a forest of trees. This show is all about Syd’s journey growing up and dealing with the everyday struggles of being a teenager while keeping a huge secret, which not only has the potential to hurt her reputation and relationships, but also physically hurt those around her.
In my opinion, I Am Not Okay With This does a plethora of things right: a strong storyline, interesting and investing characters, captivating aesthetic choices, a fitting and unique soundtrack, and a season finale that leaves the audience wanting more. Sydney, though very emotionally unstable, is also relatable and easy to root for as she navigates through struggles that many of us have also faced. Her bluntness and intentionally under-played line delivery contrasts perfectly with other characters – particularly Stanley, an eccentric, outgoing, and free-spirited pothead. He walks down the street barefoot, shows up to a house party in a stylish baby blue suit, and is head-over-heels for Sydney despite her obvious lack of interest. Stanley is definitely my favorite character, as his unapologetic awkwardness makes him so lovable. You may recognize that Sydney and Stanley are played by Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff, who starred side by side as Beverly and Stan in the 2017 adaptation of Steven King’s It. These actors are close friends in real life and have great on-screen chemistry because of this.
Though it is never formally stated that this show takes place in the 1980s, it can be inferred by the fashion and music choices, as well as the allusions to many 80s classic films, like outfits inspired by those in Pretty in Pink, the “Dear Diary…” line from Heathers, and the detention scenes from The Breakfast Club. Just after the very first episode I found myself texting my friends, “it has The End of the F***ing World’s vibes, with main characters from Stranger Things, played by the actors from It,” and I still stand by that. This show takes obvious inspiration from other works, like the ones I named above, as well as a similar offbeat quirkiness like Jason Reitman’s Juno and similar supernatural themes of Steven King’s Carrie.
All in all, I highly recommend this show to anyone looking for a captivating series. There is some minor gore, so fair warning for anyone who is a bit squeamish, but overall the show is very tastefully executed and beautifully filmed. For those who become deeply invested in characters and enjoy film aesthetics, this show will make your heart sing and will have you hooked after the first episode. I have not been able to stop talking about this show to everyone I know (This is a public apology to all my friends: I will stop now, I promise.), and I am a firm believer that I Am Not Okay With This deserves all the hype that it is getting.