Synopsis: Sydney is a teenage girl navigating the trials and tribulations of high school while dealing with the complexities of her family, her budding sexuality, and mysterious superpowers just beginning to awaken deep within her.
Format: 7 episodes streaming on Netflix simultaneously.
Cast: Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Sofia Bryant, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Aidan Wojtak-Hissong, Richard Ellis
Director: Jonathan Entwistle
Writers: Jonathan Entwistle (1), Christy Hall (1-2, 6-7), Liz Elverenli (3), Tripper Clancy (4-5), Jemma Westover (7), Charles Forsman (Based on Graphic Novel by)
The series creator of the The End of the F***ing World Jonathan Entwistle is back with another adaptation of a Charles Forsman graphic novel. That series was very well regarded but was a show that I couldn’t get into. Unfortunately, it is a similar story with I Am Not Okay With This.
The series revolves around Sydney (Sophia Lillis) who narrates the story as if she is writing in her diary, one she is writing in as a coping device after the suicide of her father. She lives with her mother (Kathleen Rose Perkins), who is constantly working at a small dinner, and her brother (Aidan Wojtak-Hissong) who. Sydney is far from a popular kid with one really good friend: Dina (Sofia Bryant). When Dina starts dating jock and general douchebag Brad (Richard Ellis), Sydney finds herself on the outer and connecting more with neighbour Stanley Barber (Wyatt Oleff) who is a bit of an odd kid. On top of all that Sydney is starting to think she may have telekinesis.
The season gets off to a slow start, which is not a good thing when you only have 7 episodes and a total runtime for the season of 156 minutes (including credits). Things start to pick up with Episode 3 when there is some exploration into Sydney’s powers and her sexuality. But then it’s all over. I know that the saying is “To leave them wanting more”, but generally you would have given them something first. This season feels like an entrée rather than a full meal.
One problem I had was how unsurprising the show is. There were very few surprises throughout the season and many of the plot lines were lesser versions of things we’ve seen before. It isn’t helped by the fact the season starts with a flash forward to Sydney running down a street, covered in blood. If you are a fan of this genre, you would have a hunch where this is going. The season drops more hints that this is the direction it is all heading and does little to try to convince the audience that things will not play out exactly as we expect. It definitely feels like it is just going through the motions at times as it leads to its climax.
Every character in the show is very one dimensional and stereotypical. Syd is the shy girl, Brad is the asshole jock, Stanley is the nerd who wants to help the person with superpowers control them and Dina is the nice pretty girl who is dating the asshole jock for some reason. They all feel like characters out of an 80’s teen comedy with a few modern touches which isn’t surprising as the show feels like it is taking inspiration from a variety of 80’s films, primarily The Breakfast Club and Carrie. It’s not uncommon to see shows inspired by that era in cinema but I Am Not Okay With This feels more like a knock off than something new and original.
Sophia Lillis is solid as Sydney but it is hard to be impressive as a self described “boring white girl”. The show also tends to go to the well too many times with Sydney narrating the opposite of what she’s actually doing. Wyatt Oleff as Stanley is the standout on the show and Sydney is far more interesting in scenes involving him. He is at least has some personality, an interesting character arc and gets to show a broad range of emotions.