coming of age

[Netflix Review] I Am Not Okay With This Season 1 (2020) ★★★★★

Sydney and Stanley in his car in I Am Not Okay With This season 1

I Am Not Okay With This sets supernatural powers loose in a moving coming of age story. 


I Am Not Okay With This is a supernatural coming of age Netflix Original series. It’s a story where real growing pains are mixed with supernatural elements which are as symbolic as they are real. With well developed characters, a great story, original music and editing that add to the storylines, this series is as playful as it is serious.

It has a great pace and the voice over, Sydney Novak telling everything to her diary, is a real asset to the storyline. Not for explanatory reasons but for a playful, cheeky and sardonic effect that works really well to set the tone of the series. 

This first season consists of 7 episodes each with a duration of 19-28 minutes. It feels like one big movie, while the storyline is a continuous one that flies by, and makes you want to watch it in one go. 


Plot

After the suicide of Syd’s dad, her life is getting more complicated when her only best friend Dina gets a popular jock for a boyfriend, she has sex for the first time with Stan, has nasty zits on her thighs and has to write in a diary encouraged by the school counselor.

With a younger brother Liam to take care of, a not so understanding or supporting mom, it’s hard to be a seventeen year old girl. But above all this she develops strange powers, that can either help her or destroy her not so easy life completely. 


Why you should watch it

I Am Not Okay With This is a coming of age story with lots of relatable issues for teenagers. The feeling of not belonging, to be weird, a freak even, while struggling with your own sexuality and individuality and family problems are common issues everybody can relate to. Putting this in the mixture with supernatural powers and a strange figure who can disappear into thin air, results in a very symbolic and realistic coming of age story.

Although it strongly reminds of Carrie, Syd’s background story, and her character are totally different, turning it into a fresh take on teen issues, like being gay and being harassed for it which serves as a strong motivator for Carrie-like horrors. 

The balance between the horror, the supernatural, that are only graphic in the last episode, and the realistic coming of age is well kept. Due to the realistic characters who really come to life, except for Brad the jock who’s a stereotype bad guy and a biggot. Dina is absolute bubbly, while Syd can mostly be a dick. Little Liam is adorable and Stan is just a fantastic friend. 

The characters really fit well together and are the key elements to the story. It’s mostly Syd’s story, her anxieties, her struggles and her anger and grief towards her father’s suicide, that is the core of the story. But her friends are important supporting characters that push the story forwards, either as an aid or as an obstacle for Syd.  

The supernatural elements fit in very naturally. They are symbolic as well as a real thing that is just another thing that happens to Syd. 

The story has a great pace and it feels like one long movie. The unconventional music is absolute magnificent and a daring choice. It fits the scenes in mood and atmosphere but also the lyrics set the tone in the background. 

The cinematography is gorgeous providing a tense and foreboding atmosphere. The editing adds tremendously to the tense vibe as well as the comical and often playful feel of the series. This series manages to combine, humor, playfulness, and creepiness with serious themes, all keeping each other balanced out. 

While this series can be regarded as a series for teenagers or young adults, it will speak to adults as well. Although probably nobody can relate to her powers, everybody went to high school. 


My favorite part

What I liked best about this series is the structure of the story. The buildup of the supernatural elements, where they come from and of course the climax. But the road getting there, to the prom, is probably the most effective part. The editing is key and delivers some tense and playful scenes, by not showing it chronologically, but every time lifting a little bit more of the veil. 

A perfect example is the scene in the library, which is tense and suspenseful. It is creepy and some mysterious. While in the mean time, the cover-up is very entertaining and fun and playful. This mixture of moods and atmospheres is a very strong asset to the series and makes it a distinguishable series, but also keeps it interesting. 

Another example is the scene when Syd runs into the woods after the incident and she has an outburst. The next episode it’s shown from Stan’s point of view. It’s his screen time to shine and he does it with charisma and flair. It’s a great way to let the events proceed in a lively way. 

And of course the ending is fantastic. It’s what you expect, due to the scenes where Syd runs bloodied across the street, in the very beginning, but not quite what you had in mind. It’s a shocking but also a great mental explosion of this season. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★★

Drama factor: ★★★★☆

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


Cast and crew

I Am Not Okay With This is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Charles Forsman. The series is created by Jonathan Entwistle and Christy Hall. It stars Sophia Lillis (Syd), Sofia Bryant (Dina), Wyatt Oleff (Stan), Aiden Wojtak-Hissong (Liam) and Kathleen Rose Perkins (Maggie).

Cinematography: Justin Brown. Edited by: Yana Gorskaya, Dane McMaster. Production company: 21 Laps Entertainment. Original network: Netflix. 


Check the trailer below