The Netflix Highlight: “I Am Not Okay With This,” Season 1
What’s up: Netflix’s “I Am Not Okay With This” is a superpower, coming-of-age comedy about high schoolers living in a Pennsylvania town near Pittsburgh.
While going through puberty, the female protagonist discovers that she has a superpower that involves controlling and destroying objects with her mind. She balances these physical discoveries with teenage anxieties and the deep sadness she feels over her father’s somewhat recent suicide.
“I Am Not Okay With This” is an adaptation of a Charles Forsman graphic novel.
How it starts: Sirens wail and dogs bark as the protagonist hurries down the middle of the street covered in blood. She stays in the middle of the double yellow lines. She has a shocked look on her face. Red blood soaks her dress.
Dog tags hang from her neck.
Her voiceover starts: “Dear Diary, go fuck yourself.”
The Kinks’ song “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” begins to play.
The main cast includes Sofia Bryant, Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff and Kathleen Rose Perkins.
“I Am Not Okay With This,” Season 1, runs seven episodes of roughly 20 minutes each.
Sum-up: “I Am Not Okay With This” is a well-oiled machine of awkward teen angst.
If you’ve seen a few coming-of-age shows or movies that center around teens that are “different,” then “I Am Not Okay With This” will feel like a retread of highs you already experienced. Despite that, the show has enough charm to justify its existence and appeal to fans of the genre.
The friendship chemistry between the two main characters ― Sydney (the one with superpowers) and Stanley ― is the real highlight. When these two are on-screen together, the show transcends the sum of its repurposed parts.
These merits especially come through as the two characters wander through their Pennsylvania town. In a voiceover, Syd describes the area as the most polluted in America. Despite this, the camera finds backdrops of aging, but appealing buildings, surrounded by natural beauty such as forests and rivers. These shots make the show far more memorable than it had any right to be with its well-worn ideas.
Heads up: Because the teen characters are still figuring things out, the show intentionally makes them pretty insufferable at times. The protagonist, Syd, swears again and again in her voiceovers as a defensive language crutch. Her new friend, Stanley, touts the merits of vinyl and VHS.
At one point, Stanley convinces Syd to go to a football game. He argues that watching dumb jocks experience the peak of their lives in a violent game they won’t even win is like Shakespearean live theater.
The show has other characters call these teens out on their faux-edgy, judgmental nonsense. But as a viewer, you still have to spend a lot of time with this.
Close-up: The fifth episode of the season opens on the main characters huddled over desks in a classroom taking a test. The teacher sits at the front, reading a magazine. The sound of a ticking clock ticks away.
In a voiceover, the protagonist says a doomed line of thinking:
“Dear Diary, I’m just gonna put my head down. Do nothing. Say nothing. It’s the only way to make sure I don’t hurt anyone.”
Moments later, the protagonist yells at the teacher in an angry defense of her friend and secret crush. The teacher gives the protagonist detention.
Then another character, who has a crush on the protagonist, stands up in a desire to also get detention to make a point. He doesn’t know what to do, so he pushes his books off his desk. The teacher looks at him, quizzically. The character thinks for a moment and then says, “Um — mo-motherfucker.” The teacher gives him detention too.
Proud, this student sits down and turns to his crush with a goofy smile and a thumbs-up.
The show is a relentless oscillation between characters dealing with deep emotions and then awkward, youthful charm poking through the darkness.
History: Charles Forman wrote the graphic novels “The End of the F***ing World” and “I Am Not Okay With This” (among other books). Netflix has now turned both into television shows. The “I Am Not Okay With This” book only debuted in 2017, so Netflix did quick work with the material.
The graphic novel and the show have the same first line of dialogue ― “Dear Diary, go fuck yourself.”
Comparable stories: Many outlets (such as The A.V. Club and Decider) joked that the Netflix Algorithm created this show. As such, it has close similarities to other Netflix hits such as “Stranger Things” (which shares a producer) and “The End of the F***ing World” (which shares a director). The show also comes from a graphic novel, just like the Netflix hits “The Umbrella Academy” and “Locke & Key.” If you like stories about intelligent, alt high schoolers who go on a magical journey ― this is for you.
The characters and money: The series repeatedly reminds the viewer that the protagonist and her classmates do not have wealth. The lead character’s mother works long shifts at a diner and fails to give her daughter enough money for groceries. In a voiceover, the lead character also straight-up tells the viewers her family doesn’t have money. As the series goes on, it’s clear that many of the characters in this town have parents that also deal with financial challenges.
Bonus: Netflix released the first seven minutes of the first episode for free on YouTube. So if you don’t have a subscription (or don’t feel like logging in right now), you can check out the beginning of “I Am Not Okay With This” here:
A Couple Of Netflix News Stories From This Week
1. Netflix added two “Top 10” rows on the service. Subscribers will be able to see the “Top 10” movies and shows, respectively, in their country on any given day. The list is based on popularity.
2. A new trailer for the second season of the food show “Ugly Delicious” debuted. I’m a big fan of host David Chang’s podcast and am excited for the new episodes of his Netflix series. Here’s the trailer:
And here are the shows and movies that joined Netflix recently:
- “I Am Not Okay With This” (Netflix Original)
- “Altered Carbon” (Season 2, Netflix Original)
- “The Angry Birds Movie 2”
- “Followers” (Netflix Original)
- “Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back ― Evolution” (Netflix Family)
- “All The Bright Places” (Netflix Film)
- “Babylon Berlin” (Season 3, Netflix Original)
- “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” (Season 2, Netflix Original)
- “Jeopardy!: Celebrate Alex Collection”
- “Jeopardy!: Cindy Stowell Collection”
- “Jeopardy!: Seth Wilson Collection”
- “La trinchera infinita” (Netflix Film)
- “Queen Sono” (Netflix Original)
- “Restaurants on the Edge” (Netflix Original)
- “Unstoppable” (Netflix Original)