‘I Am Not Okay With This’ TV Review: Netflix’s Supernatural Series Hits The Spot
A coming of age story is always interesting because of the sincere struggles with the awkward minutiae of growing up that it portrays along with the bigger realizations that the living in this world can often be tough and unpleasant. There’s a lot going on for adolescents, especially high-school kids who are discovering their bodies, desires, dreams and sexuality, so adding more into the mix can potentially lead too many plot lines and confusion. But, Netflix’s new I Am Not Okay With This balances the more sensitive and embarrassing moments with grief and the supernatural almost perfectly.
Starring Sophia Lilis, known for her role as Beverly Marsh in the horror film It and its sequel, the seven-episode first season follows her as Sydney Novak, a junior dealing with usual hurdles and triumphs of high school. She has these gross zits on her thighs, her friendship with her best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant) begans rupturing after she starts dating a jock while her neighbor Stanly Barber (Wyatt Oleff) is way more into her than she is into him. That in itself is enough for most teenage dramas, but Sydney also has her father’s suicide, which she and her mother never talk about, a younger brother who needs looking after and the fact that she may have some kind of superpowers to deal with.
The End of The F***ing World, which is also directed by Jonathan Entwhistle and based on a comic written by Charles Forsman, this dark comedy-drama has a peculiar 80’s aesthetic style and is narrated, honestly and self-deprecatingly by the main character. There’s a lack of strong narrative and a greater focus on character, much like there was with James in World, but again, with its quirky characters and unusual scenarios it works.
Sydney has trouble controlling her temper and when she can’t, toilet paper slides off of supermarket shelves and whole trees fall down. She has the ability to destroy things with her mind, and possibly other telekinetic abilities, though we only see her talents when she’s exploding and eager for the world to reflect this. She understands, as the series goes on that she may have more in common with her father than she first thought and that in many other ways, she is not the same person who she’s always thought herself to be. There’s something instantly endearing about Sydney’s angsty but smiley and sarcastic character and a kind of charming quality that Stanley has even as he follows Sydney around despite her not being too keen on him. There’s genuine chemistry between Lillis and Bryant which makes for several sweet scenes and Sydney’s widowed mother, played by Kathleen Rose Perkins is stony-hearted yet sympathetic at once.
The season finishes feeling unfinished; these episodes have just about set up several plot points which need explication. It’s likely the show will return for another season just like World did. I hope it does; this show manages to be about the quandary of Sydney’s youth adeptly by connecting the existence of brash teenage hormones with the emergence of her formidable capabilities in a way that’s never melodramatic and always bittersweet.