Let’s all be honest with ourselves, teenage angsty dramas (when done correctly) are super fun to watch. I know I absolutely live for the chaos of these types of shows and movies – but nothing could have prepared me for Netflix’s newest show I Am Not Okay With This. While the show does have some cliché traits at times, there’s something about it that constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat and not waiting another second before starting the next episode.
Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This follows 17-year-old Sydney Novak as she learns to navigate her way through high school all while dealing with the death of her father and brokenness of her family, understanding her sexuality, and awaking to mysterious telekinesis powers within her.
The choice in storytelling is what initially drew me into the show, and kept me watching for the next seven episodes – with the opening scene beginning with our show’s main girl Syd (Sophia Lillis) walking down a street with a blank expression and completely covered in blood. But of course, as an audience we have no idea why. It makes you desperate for answers, and – if you’re like me – you’ll be dissecting every little piece of information the show gives you to try and put it together before the end reveals itself.
Storytelling in this way creates an almost game like scenario for viewers to play as your brain is constantly putting “two and two together.” It’s not uncommon, but still is an interesting narrative choice to open the show with a shock factor so out there and then essentially rewind to bring us to a “full circle” understanding. Plus, this show has one draw-dropping ending – no spoilers here, but lets just say I truly did not see direction this show would take.
With both main stars of show – Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff – coming off of the rebooted IT series, I was honestly expecting quite a bit from their performances; and I can definitely say they delivered on those expectations. You truly feel as if you know these kids from the way they portray themselves, completely breaking down any disconnect audiences may feel while watching a show.
Both kids feel the situations around them so intensely; which seems as if those emotions are coming off the screen and giving those common teenage feelings of confusion and anxiety right back to audience. As this show breaks down the walls between us and these characters, you suddenly become aware of how complexly they are written – and how complex their emotions are – to create characters audiences have the chance to fully get to know.
However, while this show does have amazing character performances and an amazing build up to the of season, the rest of season does feel as if this is just a “lay the groundwork for something amazing” kind of season. Nothing super eventful happens until the very last episode – and with the episodes never exceeding 20 minutes in length, it does seem more like a movie than a television show.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does allow for some moments to seems very slow and drawn out in order to generate the foundation for what this show will eventually become; you’re just going to have to wait a bit longer to see how that foundation truly plays out.
Despite this, Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This is undeniably worth the watch and even as a “groundwork” season, it produces a compelling story you cannot help but get hooked on. The story never feels forced, or too far out for anyone to ever relate to – even when our main character has superpowers – and while that trap is something teen dramas can easily fall into, this show didn’t. At its core, this show is about a girl trying to figure out who she is, and who she ultimately wants to become. But, also shows the audience how that journey is not something you need to go through alone. All in all, this show provides strong character performances, a compelling story, and of course – superpowers, as well as a cliff hanger ending that make everything just a little more interesting.