By Madalyn Watson | Arts & Life Editor
Netflix released its new original series “I Am Not Okay with This” on Feb. 26. I knew from the start that the series was catered directly to an audience like myself, but honestly, I’m okay with that.
The series appears shameless with its teen drama cliches: an angsty teenage girl with emotional problems, baggy sweaters and telekinetic abilities; her beautiful and bubbly best friend hypnotized by the stereotypical jock; and the flamboyantly dressed stoner with a beat-up car.
But that didn’t stop me from finishing all seven of the less-than-30 minute episodes in one sitting.
Netflix learned from its many recent successes with shows like “Stranger Things,” “The Umbrella Academy” and “The End of the F***ing World” and put similar themes into play in this adaptation of Charles Forsman’s comic book of the same name.
Forsman is also the creator of the comic book that “The End of the F***ing World” is based on and both series were directed by Jonathan Entwistle. (“I Am Not Okay with This” even has the same producers as “Stranger Things.”)
The supernatural, coming-of-age story follows Sydney (played by Sophia Lillis from “It” and “It Chapter Two”), a self-proclaimed “boring” 17-year-old girl who believes she “is not special” as she tries to cope with the loss of her father.
Just as her best friend Dina (played by newcomer Sofia Bryant) starts focusing on the golden boy football star, and Sydney’s weird, always-barefoot neighbor Stanley (also played by “It” star Wyatt Oleff) starts hanging around her, she is forced to acknowledge that her temper tantrums can lead to earth shattering results.
The series deals with a lot in a short amount of time, from struggling with sexual orientation, grief and suicide to PTSD … this is in addition to superpowers and a little bit of blood, so it’s not exactly for everyone.
However, I believe almost anyone can relate to the series and the feelings the characters get when they try to bottle up their emotions and push them deep down inside.
I was a bit wary to start watching the new teen drama because it is sincerely reminiscent of many of its predecessors, specifically the Stephen King classic “Carrie.”
However, the John Hughes feel, the actors’ chemistry and the series’ twists on the familiar favorite made it an entertaining watch in my book.
Not only is the series filled with references to ‘70s and ‘80s pop culture, but it appears to be timeless. While Dina dresses more like a modern day teen, both Sydney and Stanley sport vintage-inspired clothes throughout the series (I wouldn’t mind, but it could just be that they are painfully pretentious hipsters.)
In one scene, Stanley declares that VHS tapes “are the best platform there is” and when Sydney teases him for it, he tells her he hates LaserDiscs (these were created in 1978 and became completely irrelevant with the invention of DVDs, BluRay and eventually online streaming services).
Although the series can’t seem to pick an era, other similar shows like “Sex Education,” for example, also refuse to commit to the aesthetic of one time in history and are still successful.
Since the two young actors already have experience interacting together on the set of “It,” it’s no surprise that Lillis and Oleff worked extremely well together. The pair’s banter came off naturally, and their adorably awkward friendship tied the whole show together.
Even though Bryant was the new kid on the block, she stood her ground. I am excited to see what the actress will do next.
Honestly, I am obsessed with all of the characters in this series. Some of the characters may start out seeming flat and underdeveloped, but by the end of the short season, you will begin to understand where almost every character is coming from (emphasis on almost.) I also just want to give Oleff’s character a big hug, as he’s adorable with his “Pretty in Pink” Ducky-esque personality.
My main complaint with the series is expected. Even before the series became available on Netflix, Twitter was not happy with the lack of diversity in “I Am Not Okay with This.” I believe this lack of diversity is more obvious and apparent to audiences because of the series’ similarities to other shows.
With “I Am Not Okay with This,” Netflix missed its opportunity to appeal to a wider audience. Even though some of the characters are part of the LGBTQ+ community and Dina is African-American, the majority of the cast is still white and straight.
I thought the series did especially well with their portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community as well as their depiction of grief. It shows the real effects of suicide loss on a family and specifically on Syd as she deals with anger issues.
The series “I Am Not Okay with This” is a Frankenstein monster creation including a lot of things that I love and that a lot of people in my demographic would likely love as well.
The creators knew what they were doing with “I Am Not Okay with This.” They looked at what was bringing in streams, fans and money and just rolled with it.
So if you think that the show seems a bit familiar, you’re not wrong … but so what? I’m okay with it, so maybe you would be, too.