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Part John Hughes teen melodrama, part gritty superhero origin story, Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This combines familiar factors from comic book movies and teen dramas with cliche story arcs to create something wholly new and completely entertaining.
Sophia Lillis (It and It Chapter Two) is Sydney “Syd” Novak, a melancholy teenager who on top of dealing with her father’s suicide, a strained relationship with her mother and developing romantic feelings for her best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant), also has to contend with budding super powers that can destroy a forest with a single angsty scream.
The story follows Syd as she discovers her new talents, which grow stronger as she experiences one crushing disappointment after another. Her struggle to come to terms with her abilities and attempts to control them make for the crux of the series, but the charm comes from the complex and well-written characters.
Lillis is delightful as her pubescent turmoil makes her plight easy to relate to despite its sci-fi origin. From the zits on her thighs to her unpopular stature at high school, Syd is the walking pile of hormones we all once were — if we had the ability to kill with a mere thought.
Along for the ride is Lillis’ old It cohort Wyatt Oleff as Stanley (again), a lovesick sidekick who steps into the Pretty In Pink Duckie-like role with ease. He’s a loner who dances to the beat of his own drum while completely owning his awkwardness rather than rolling over and playing dead to the more popular kids who tease him. Stanley works hard to remain unique. In fact, Oleff’s wide-eye portrayal of the high school misfit is so pure and beautifully gawky, that he almost stands in as the true hero of the series.
Amid the teens that occupy their Pennsylvania high school, Syd and her friends are unique outcasts who refuse to become boiler plate high school stereotypes. Even Dina bucks the traditional role she would fall into by being a brain and a loyal friend on the verge of gaining immense popularity.
I Am Not Okay With This is an untraditional superhero story populated with untraditional teens trying to find their footing as they wade the murky waters of puberty- with a side of superhuman strength. For young adults and those of us who remember what being one was really like, it’s the engaging binger we’re all looking for right now.
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