What do you get when you cross the energy of The Breakfast Club with the horror of Carrie? The answer may be found in the new Netflix comic book drama ‘I Am Not Okay with This’. A deliciously dark comic book adaptation from the same universe as The End of the F***ing World. One that wraps you in the story of a teenage girl struggling with grief, awkwardness, thigh acne and emerging sexuality. While topping the list with some emerging superpowers that are truly scary in the hands of a hormonal teenager.
But this is no ordinary coming of age superpower story. It’s a delightful mash-up of the Johns Hughes classics Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. Mixed with the horror of Stephen King and the LGBTQ journey of Love Simon. Ultimately delivering one of the most engaging and different comic book adaptations of recent years. In a series of seven short 25-minute episodes that you can easily gobble up in one night.
Still reeling from her father’s suicide Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis) is not exactly living the teen dream. As she battles with a recent relocation to a small town; a mum who works long hours and is in constant conflict with her; a best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant) who may just be something more than a friend. And finally, a weed-smoking geeky neighbour (Wyatt Oleff) who fancies her. But when you add to the mix some telekinetic powers that seem to spark from anger, hurt or frustration. Sydney certainly has more than a few problems to contend with. But as relationships and friendships grow, Sydney must urgently find a new way to deal with her new abilities. While equally unravelling the story of her own father’s suicide in the family basement.
Of course, the interface between puberty and emerging superpowers is nothing new. It’s a mainstay of the comic book origin story, while also finding itself central too many horrors. But its rare to see these stories in the hands of a female. And even rarer for them to encompass the anger, pain and confusion of the coming out process. Creating something that is old and new in equal measure in I Am Not Okay with This. While layering it with a sharp style, confidence and charm.
This is helped by the genius casting of Sophie Lillis and Wyatt Oleff. Both of whom were last seen together in IT Chapter One and Two. But truly shine as small-town outsiders who don’t quite fit the landscape they inhabit. And while they both play characters that could easily fall into mundane stereotypes. They equally manage to keep things fresh and engaging with performances that joyously celebrate difference. While never forgetting the highs and deep lows of the teenage experience. Ultimately delivering a TV show that feels nostalgic, fresh and unique in equal measure. With a final episode that thankfully subverts the original and controversial comic book ending. But that’s where I stop writing and you start watching.