Growing up is tough. Making new friends, discovering your sexuality, and learning about your new superpowers is something we’ve all gone through. No? Okay.
I Am Not Okay With This comes to us from the team behind Stranger Things and The End of the F***ing World, which is kinda obvious since they all feel connected. Take the offbeat humor from The End and the supernatural elements of Stranger, and there’s a recipe for a show with loads of potential.
Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis) is just your boring average white girl who’s trying to figure out her purpose in life. From a tough home to confusing feelings, life gets more screwed when she discovers she has telekinetic powers. Puberty, am I right? Syd now has to deal with this new gift all while encountering traditional teen problems.
This is a flawed, yet entertaining start to what could be a kick-ass series. Like most first seasons, it started off clunky, not knowing if it wants to be a full-on 80’s teen comedy movie or a dark approach to the superhero genre. The first scene to the show has Syd running down the streets covered in what appears to be blood. Heavy stuff, but it then cuts to a semi-John Hughes high school movie, similar to Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. The majority of the first two episodes are more comedy driven, with hints of something wicked thrown throughout. I will say these episodes get the characters right, and boy are they a joy to watch.
Reuniting horror film It co-stars Lillis and Wyatt Oleff, both play off each other perfectly. Oleff brings confidence, which is cool when you remember his character in It was very insecure. Lillis shines as this black sheep who wants nothing more than a normal life. Both have great chemistry, and episode 2 shows it beautifully. I honestly wouldn’t mind a movie expanding on that episode. It’s that sweet. As the season goes on, we discover her past, and how messed up it really was. Her powers get worse the more she’s mad, showing us how solid Lillis’ acting is. She shows genuine fear, believing she’ll hurt others. You understand her pain, feeling more of a freak than she already did. Scenes showing her powers aim for realism, and it works. The telekinesis throughout the show feels real, like it can actually exist, which is something to appreciate. It never feels like she understands her power, raising the tension higher. Her struggle sticks with you, as you want to see her control it all, but hey, that’s anything but relatable.
Where the show falls flat is in its other aspects. The high school setting and some characters are clichéd, lacking in originality. The show doesn’t offer a whole lot of new material, as we’ve seen this done several times before. I think this is the show’s biggest issue. It’s a good show, but nothing stands out asides from our two leads. It’s funny, yes, and it’s interesting, but it plays things a little too safe. Do I want season 2? Yes, please, because potential, there is. The finale leaves the door open for a bonkers season 2, and I think it needs to embrace that level of hopeful madness.
I Am Not Okay With This is… okay. The premise, although nothing spectacular, works. You know the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but this show has the tools to break said statement. We’re given two rich performances from Lillis and Oleff, with witty dialogue and occasional sharp directing. This show caught my eye because I’m a sucker for coming-of-age stories, so I’m a little more optimistic about it getting a new season. Hopefully.
I Am Not Okay With This is now streaming on Netflix.