By ANA-SOFIA MUÑOZ
Dear readers…I am far beyond okay with this.
On Feb. 26, Netflix released the original series I Am Not Okay With This. The show is an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name by artist Charles Forsman.
The show follows troubled, angst-ridden Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis) as she navigates both high school and the grieving process following her father’s death. However, Sydney is a far cry from your average teen; she discovers that when her anger, frustration or fear bubbles over, she has telekinetic abilities.
While the “teenager with superpowers” trope may appear overdone, I Am Not Okay With This equips relatable characters, sharp Generation Z humor and a modern take on John Hughes-esque cinematography to craft a unique series that is sure to resonate with adolescent audiences.
Arguably, one of the most notable aspects of the show is the characterization of protagonist Sydney. Like most protagonists, she displays a complex array of relatable traits. For instance, she is often depicted as sarcastic and socially awkward, qualities that allow viewers to see themselves within her character. Unlike with your typical protagonist, however, the series uniquely makes no attempt to justify the negative aspects of her personality. Even when Sydney’s social faux pas begin to appear more inept than awkward, or her sarcastic nature brews bitterness within her relationships, the series does not try to excuse her behavior—not even with the death of her father, despite the fact that he committed suicide, leaving her visibly traumatized.
In doing so, the show depicts Sydney in an overall more realistic way. Although this may cause her to come across as less likable at times, it certainly adds a distinct element of humanness that can rarely be found in most young adult series. Ultimately, the show’s decision to focus on Sydney’s imperfections, rather than shy away from them, creates an enjoyable—albeit unusual—sense of relatability, especially for teen viewers grappling with similar emotional struggles.
To add, the sardonic sense of humor that pervades the show is very much in line with that of present-day audiences, especially young people. The comedy employed throughout the show is often dry, contorting uncomfortable situations to cast a humorous light upon them. Humor is woven throughout scenes at even the most unexpected moments, allowing the audience room to breathe in the midst of tensity as well as serving to strengthen the relationships between characters in a more lighthearted way.
Unsurprisingly, the young cast is a major contributing factor to the show’s success. The star of the show, Sophia Lillis, puts on an especially exceptional performance as Sydney. Lillis expertly encapsulates every aspect of Sydney’s complex personality into her portrayal—she seamlessly navigates everything from Sydney’s explosive rage and internalized emotional turmoil, to subtler moments of quiet grief. Lillis’s skills as an actress truly come through in this role, which is particularly commendable considering her young age.
Moreover, Wyatt Oleff delivers another standout performance as Stanley Barber, flawlessly depicting his eccentric confidence. Oleff perfectly conveys Stanley’s endearing social blunders, effectively rendering him one of the most lovable characters in the series.
On a different note, the cinematography of the series goes hand in hand with the show’s storyline and provides a captivating setting. Scenes are often uniquely framed, and the generally neutral color palette creates a pleasing backdrop for the story to take place. The soundtrack is also put to great use throughout the series, at times deliberately worked into scenes rather than simply being background music. In short, every detail of this show serves its purpose. Overall, I Am Not Okay With This is a genuine rarity among most of today’s young adult series. As a whole, the show is most definitely a work of well-crafted entertainment that will leave audiences greatly anticipating another season.