Netflix has another hit with “I Am Not Okay With This“, which I binge-watched yesterday. It helps that it only has seven episodes, all of which are just 28 minutes or less. But mainly because this series is really good.
It’s been described as a John Hughes superhero movie. Like “Pretty in Pink” meets the X-Men. Or “Carrie” meets “Stranger Things” (and yeah, it comes from the producers of “Stranger Things). Or “Stranger Things” meets “Sex Education”.
So, yeah, this Netflix adaptation of Charles Forsman’s graphic novel of the same name is being compared to a lot of things. And it does wear its influences on its sleeve, and pays homage to a number of films. But the series still manages to become the kickass coming-of-age comedy-drama that we never knew we needed.
A lot of the credit goes to Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff, who play the main characters Syd and Stanley. Yup, it’s like an “It” reunion. Their compelling performance elevates “I Am Not Okay With This”. Plus the way the show subverts the teenage superhero genre.
Comic book fans know mutant powers generally manifest during puberty–the time of hormonal changes and great stress. In the real world, even non-mutant teens feel like misfits when puberty strikes. Trying to make sense of physical and emotional changes. Struggling to find their identity. To belong. Craving independence but at the same time needing their parents’ understanding more than ever.
This New York Times review eloquently explains why puberty and superhero stories are intertwined.
“Every teenager has superpowers. Every puberty is an origin story. You transform biologically and change shape; hair begins to grow from your skin; you acquire the terrifying ability to create another human being using cells from your own body.
With great power comes great irascibility
Syd has a lot of reasons to be angry, but even she can’t understand this overwhelming rage. And whenever she loses control of her temper, the consequences are far graver than the normal teen tantrum.
I can’t really go into detail without spoiling the series. All I can say is that Syd and Stanley are charming and awesome. And that I loved the show best when it focused on the daily routines of the teen characters rather than on the supernatural. Not every story about a superpowered teen has to involve saving the world.
It also helps that “I Am Not Okay With This” has an awesome soundtrack. In fact, Prefab Sprout’s “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” is my LSS (Last Song Syndrome or earworm).
By the way, that’s still one of the weirdest music videos ever. And that’s saying a lot because we’re talking about the 80s.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering why, like Syd, you’ve also never heard of Stanley’s favorite band, Bloodwitch, read this article.
Am I looking forward to Season 2? I am not okay with this. I think they should have ended here.
But who knows? Maybe Netflix will surprise me.