When I started Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This on a whim, I thought I’d be watching some delightfully dysfunctional teens muddle through school. So, when Syd Novak started moving stuff with her brain, I was as surprised as she was.
This first season is slow going on the supernatural storyline and falls into a number of Netflix-ian pitfalls, but the lovable characters and small town setting wrap you up in Syd’s world and make these seven episodes bingeworthy.
The series opens on a podunk Pennsylvania town and shadows Novak a year after her father’s suicide. Novak juggles grieving with a tense family life, getting through school and slowly noticing her obvious infatuation with
her best friend, Dina. When Syd becomes overwhelmed by emotions, paranormal powers, like super strength or causing someone’s nose to bleed, pop up.
The overarching plot of Syd coming to realize her powers feels like the first half hour of a superhero origin movie stretched out over an entire season and it ends at a major cliffhanger. The cliffhanger didn’t leave me too happy, seeing as I binged the season the day it premiered, but the teenage drama and develop- ment of Syd’s psyche that are central to her powers kept me plenty entertained.
While the show does a good job of developing Syd and her emotional turmoil, most of the characters feel half-baked. However, the crowd favorite of this series by far is a funky little drug dealer named Stan with a hopeless
crush on Syd.
I’ll have to credit a share of his charm to his wacky ward-
robe but Stan’s character has the friendly and goofy vibe I wish every dude who I did not share feelings for had. It would be almost painful to have a guy stopping you on your walk to school to offer you a ride normally, but when Stan insists on taking thirty seconds to roll his window down inch by inch with a cheesy smile, he’s at least weird enough to keep around.
And I really wasn’t kidding about wardrobe. The dude wore a polyester robin’s egg blue suit with a graphic tee underneath and I was jade green with envy. Queer Eye was quaking.
I have found in several Netflix series that I get distractingly mixed signals on what time period they’re supposed to take place in and I Am Not Okay With This falls into this same trap. An episode will start with excessive wood paneling, weird insults like “go eat a tampon,” yellow hues and a mom in a diner uniform asking where her stockings are that convince me it’s the 1980s and then I get whiplash when some kid gets surprised by a VHS collection. It’s confusing enough that every Netflix show features at least five ‘80s songs and I’m just trying to figure out how taboo it is for Syd to be gay.
With that said, one thing I really respect this series for is casting teenage actors to play teenage roles. Having age appropriate actors felt authentic, and both my 15 and 20-year-old self felt seen when characters compared
A final word of warning, one of the final scenes is gory, definitely earning the series a TV-MA rating several times over. But overall, I’d recommend this series to anyone who digs coming-of-age storylines involving grief, LGBT+ identity and a dash of superpower zest.
I’ll miss Syd, Stan and friends for now; here’s hoping that Netflix will greenlight a second season soon.