By Mollie Campbell
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Coming-of-age, Horror
Starring: Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Kathleen Rose Perkins
A funny, coming-of-age, show reminiscent of Carrie and Stranger Things. As soon as I started this show, and upon realising how short the episodes were, I knew I would devour it all in that entire evening, and it didn’t disappoint.
‘I Am Not Okay with This’ introduces the audience to Sydney (Lillis), a teenage girl who is grieving for her father, juggling the trials and tribulations of high school and most importantly…discovering that she has telekinetic powers. Despite its supernatural elements, the fact that it is a comedy over anything else is evident straight away, you can tell by the sarcastic prolonged babblings we hear from the main protagonist that this show was brought to us by the creators of Channel 4 hit ‘The End Of The F***ing World. Throughout each episode, we see Syd displaying much more frequent and powerful abilities, always align with the strong emotion she is feeling in that moment, this show really takes teenage angst to the next level. Syd’s emotions manifest into life-changing situations, as the show progresses, her ability to control her powers quickly spirals. Every episode contains underlying themes of something more sinister, and the mystery of her father becomes more suspicious by the second.
It is near the end that we see Syd really lose control and that is when we are presented with the timeless image of a young girl at her high school dance, wearing a white dress stained with the bright red blood of her unintentional victim. This time, it is Dina’s ex-boyfriend Bradley who has found Syd’s diary and is threatening to expose her secret to the whole school. Whilst we knew that this scenario was likely from the beginning, it still shocked me when Syd’s anger and embarrassment causes her to accidentally make his head explode. This is the moment that she is taken seriously, the focus shifts into more sinister waters, even from the perspective of the eccentric and upbeat Stanley.
Apart from this, and whilst I enjoyed the show and happily indulged in it over the course of several hours, there wasn’t anything that particularly stood out. It was written well and the acting was great but the plot just felt too familiar, full of direction but too predictable. There just wasn’t anything too creative that pushed the realm of a genre that is already so heavily saturated out of its comfort zone. It isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, more of a blend or rehash of many different influences. The Carrie influence is hardly surprising given the fact that the two main characters are portrayed by Stephen King movie adaptation veterans, Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff, the Stranger Things vibe was kind of expected, but I was pleasantly surprised at the Breakfast Club parallels. Whilst cheesy, it was great to see a classic tale retold in a modern way. I also really enjoyed the dynamic they portrayed between Sydney and Stanley, the latter being a multi-layered character who I think is definitely a highlight of the whole show and one to watch if this series is renewed for a second season. Oleff portrays him with such a carefree spirit, yet he encompasses such a big heart and quirky habits, it would be difficult to dislike him.
Moreover, the one thing that I think was a real triumph for the show is the way they handled the main character’s sexuality, there are many shows today that are brilliant for representing a wide variety of people, who really focus on a character’s long and complex coming-out storyline. But with this show, they skip all of that and instead of treating the topic as if it is some great big deal, they almost underplay it as a way of it being viewed in young people’s minds as a scenario just as normal as a straight character. Instead, Sydney realises that she loves her best friend Dina and accepts it straight away, which is actually refreshing to see.
At the end of the last episode, we see Syd talking to the mysterious stranger who has been following her surreptitiously, we don’t find out who it is but we know that they are human. This is an interesting idea within a show I thought was incredibly predictable. Instead of following its predecessors and making the force behind Syd’s powers something sci-fi related, they have stuck to the human path. I mean obviously her powers are coming from something that is somehow otherworldly, but it doesn’t shy away from retaining its sense of humanity, which is refreshing in a time in which movies and TV shows are dominated by sci-fi elements. Overall, I enjoyed this show…the pace was quick and easy, they got to the point straight away. The characters (Particularly Sydney and Stan) were interesting, but perhaps not given enough time to flourish in this bite sized season. And the story, whilst familiar and somewhat repetitive, was still captivating and exciting. I was left satisfied yet wanting more….here’s hoping for a season 2!
Thanks for reading:)