TV: I Am Not Okay With This (Season 1)

May 9, 2020

Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This  is the perfect, laser-fast binge watch. Indeed, the only thing I’m not okay with regarding this show is the title, which doesn’t really speak to its genre content or its unique appeal. But I’ll let that slide, since the rest of it is so well done.

Set in a run-down rust belt town somewhere in Appalachia, it chronicles the singularly traumatic coming of age of 17-year-old Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis), who lost her father to suicide. A disaffected outsider, Syd has a nerve-fraying relationship with her hard-working mother (Kathleen Rose Perkins) and a tendency for anger-management issues. The only saving grace in her life is her friendship with Dina (Sofia Bryant), which is seriously challenged when Dina starts dating popular jock Brad (Richard Ellis), much to her bafflement and distress. This particular cocktail of emotional strife leaves Syd frequently distraught, and prone to outbursts of rage…which comes with an unwelcome side effect: it triggers latent, uncontrollable telekinetic super powers.

I Am Not Okay With This blazes past with style and humor, which sits atop a solid, serious foundation as it explores Syd’s complex situation, from quirky, ecstatic high points to desperate lows. Its episodes are quite short — sitcom-length, really — but they pack a ton of story into their running times, with satisfying emotional beats surrounded by nifty effects, sight gags, and comical interactions. Lillis is particularly endearing in the lead role, and as her awkward neighbor-slash-quasi-boyfriend Stan, Wyatt Oleff delivers a splendid performance in close support. Particularly striking is the way the show effortlessly transitions from quirky humor to dramatic intensity and back again, leveraging quick-cut flashback techniques to accentuate Syd’s internal struggles. Overall, it’s an alluring, addictive comic book YA that hits its marks perfectly.