Review: I Am Not Okay With This
March 6, 2020
The typical coming-of-age TV series latches on to the standard character: an angsty teen who no one understands the great loss they’ve suffered and all the events occurring around them are driven by “puberty.” Netflix’s recent original, I Am Not Okay With This, follows the basic mold of the coming-of-age protagonist with a more twisted characteristic.
Meet protagonist Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis), or Syd. She introduces herself as a “boring 17-year old white girl,” but knowing most Netflix series, she’s definitely not that boring. Syd satisfies the angsty teen role that’s “not like other girls” that every show seems to have nowadays. While the role can often bore if not played well, I Am Not Okay With This doesn’t have that problem and Sophia Lillis’s performance in the show filled me with a rush of emotions in the short span of seven episodes. Lillis swiftly portrayed Syd’s anxiety through her running narration and the quirky teen girl facade she forces.
As seen from the trailer, Syd is most definitely not ordinary and has some secret superpower just waiting to clumsily unravel before her. To be honest, the base of the plot’s kind of basic, but the show makes up for with a steady build up to a mind blowing ending to the season. Besides the Carrie-like angst on the exterior, I Am Not Okay With This supports defying what idealized femininity wants from young girls in exploration of sexuality, having strange interests and being an overall weirdo. This made Syd’s character all the more interesting and complex because despite learning of her newfound abilities, Syd is more focused on common changes like puberty and her character becomes easier to relate to.
As I do in most shows I watch, I developed an emotional attachment to the comedic relief character, Stanley Barber (Wyatt Oleff). Stanley lightens up each episode when it starts to get to serious with the dorky charm of his character. Just like anyone, he is a part of someone else’s coming-of-age while juggling his own issues that are covered up by his lightheartedness. Admittedly, I mainly watched the show for Lillis and Oleff, who also star in the It franchise, but that doesn’t take away from how well they fit their roles
Sofia Bryant makes her breakout role in I Am Not Okay With This as Syd’s best friend, Dina, the popular high school girl dating the jock. Dina’s a more outgoing and upbeat person, complementing the more emotionally unstable protagonist, making them TV’s perfect best friends. Although she was physically there in the episodes, I felt as though we didn’t see much depth in her character, leaving her to be a lot less interesting.
I Am Not Okay With This has a lot of potential for more seasons, especially after all that had happened in its first season, as well as to play around with each character. The show is captivating unlike some recent coming-of-age films, even casting actors who actually look like teenagers. I cannot get enough of the angst from Syd and my love for Stanley can only grow from here. For now, rewatching the seven episodes will suffice, but it’ll be very disappointing if the series doesn’t continue.
Jennifer Le is a sophomore and the Online Managing Editor for RHSToday. When she's not in room 112, she loves to paint and bake (especially bread). Jenny...