I Am Not Okay With This – Season 1

Everybody feels like a freak sometimes

Main Cast: Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff

Adapted for TV by: Jonathan Entwhistle, Christy Hall

Being a teenager stinks sometimes. Being a teenage outcast not only stinks, it’s the perfect cliché for a coming of age movie or TV series. So how does one go about doing something fresh and new with that concept? If you answered, “SUPERPOWERS!” you are both right and a little scary – and I admire your vision.

That vision is what brought about the graphic novel I Am Not Okay With This by Charles Forman, which was in turn adapted for Netflix by Jonathan Entwhistle and Christy Hall. Entwhistle, who also directs, is the man behind The End of the F***king World, another genius coming of age series. Also in on the production are some of the gang from Stranger Things – and these influences show. Brilliantly.

Sophia Lillis

I Am Not Okay With This is the story of a 17-year-old girl named Sydney (Sophia Lillis – you’ll recognize her as young Beverly from IT). Syd lives with her mom and brother in a depressing small town, in the house where her father died by suicide. They don’t talk about that. She has a best friend for the first time in her life (Sofia Bryant), is slowly making friends with the eccentric boy (Wyatt Oleff) down the street and is full of pent up anger, pain, hostility , and frustration. So, pretty normal. Except when those feelings get too big, things…happen. Thinks that are not so normal. So now Syd gets to grapple with potentially having some sort of super powers in addition to deciding if she wants to lose her virginity or stay mad at her mom.

I love this concept. Love it. But it could have been a mess, filled with capes and crime fighting. Instead it’s a lovely little series about feelings and how we cope when things are hard. Syd is a fragile girl who has had a rough few years. She’s insecure, sad, and angry, and the last thing she wants is to be any more different than she already feels. Her tenuous connections to a couple of her peers and her younger brother are strained by the totality of her circumstances and she has to make the incredibly difficult decision about what to share and how much to trust. I Am Not Okay With This does a really beautiful job weaving all of these very real choices that everyone has to make into a bigger story about something decidedly supernatural. Not only is it touching, it’s also fun and scary.

The backbone of I Am Not Okay With This is the vision of the creators. The indeterminate time period (it isn’t a period piece, but it feels like one), the barely hanging on feeling of the town and its many unhappy citizens, the mystery of Syd’s father, and every character’s eclectic wardrobe choices combine to give this show a really special look and feel. Add in some fantastic performances from the young actors and it’s a delicious brew.

Wyatt Oleff

Heading up the cast is Sophia Lillis, who is out of this world fantastic as Syd. Her internal dialogue perfectly complements her physically painful awkwardness and uncertainty. Wyatt Oleff is every bit her equal, albeit in a less expansive role. His Stanley Barber is one of the best TV characters I have seen in a long time.  Their scenes together are the very best in the series.

My only complaint is that there are only seven episodes, each just 20 minutes long. I wanted so much more from everyone involved. Longer episodes! More episodes! More information! MORE TV PLEASE. When the worst thing you can say about a series is that you can’t wait for it to return, it’s a darn good series. If you have any interest at all in coming-of-age dramedies, especially those with a supernatural bent (I’m looking at you, Stranger Things fans), I Am Not Okay With This is worth checking out. It is streaming on Netflix.

images by The Other Side and MTV International (CC 3.0)

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