One Netflix coming of age series is blowing the minds of teens all around the world. I Am Not Okay With This centers around Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis), an angry seventeen-year-old who is coming to terms with her telekinetic powers and sexuality in the premier season.
Sydney is extremely pessimistic, shown through her dialogue which only consists of sarcastic comments and her dry humor. In addition, Sydney’s family life is a source of contention, as she and her recently widowed mother (Kathleen Rose Perkins) constantly bicker.
Sydney’s intense and repressed anger causes her superpowers to activate, creating explosions, large wind gusts, and other supernatural events. Her only solace is her quirky neighbor, Stanley Barber (Wyatt Oleff), who aids her through this difficult time in her life.
This series has nothing that sets it apart from the other coming of age, teen, sci-fi dramas. It focuses on similar issues such as sexuality, family issues, the social pressures of high school, and teenagers figuring out their places in the world. Most of the plot lines feel as though they were copy and pasted from other shows of the same nature, such as Stranger Things.
Every character is stereotypical and basic. Therefore, it is hard for the viewers to make an emotional connection to the characters’ one dimensional lives. The more serious moments during episodes tend to be rushed and brushed aside, but the action filled scenes are drawn out and exhausting to watch. This creates an overall bland tone.
However, the acting on the show balances out the poor writing surprisingly well. Sophia Lillis makes Sydney’s angst feel almost tangible; despite her pessimistic exterior, watchers cannot help but root for her. More impressively, Wyatt Oleff steals the spotlight with his lovable character. Every step of the way viewers want the best for Stanley because of his sensitivity for others and his ability to be true to himself at all times. Not to mention, he definitely is the funniest character.
The acclaim for the show, however, mostly lies in the cinematography. The story is set in the present day, but the overarching aesthetic is nostalgic, neutral toned, and very eighties. The costume choices reflect this greatly through Stanley’s powder blue suits, Sydney’s dark, funky sweaters which she layers, and Brad’s jock style. The background contributes to the overly beautified portrayal of high school that is the setting of the show
The strong female lead, representation, and aesthetic save this show from falling into oblivion. However, it is not enough to make a distinct mark on the audience. Unfortunately, the imperative emotional connection is missing, and with stereotypical characters and cliché plotlines, simply having good acting cannot make up for these losses. This is a great watch when waiting for the next season of Stranger Things or for a Love, Simon-esque movie to come out, but it truly is a shell of a teenage drama.