Updated: Sep 23
By Ky Wyman and Edited by Rex Renee Leonowicz
Spoilers ahead! Please proceed with caution!
Coming of age series featuring super-powered kids are certainly in vogue with shows like Stranger Things, Raising Dion, TITANS & The Runaways. Seriously, growing up is already hard enough, but let’s add some unpredictable lethal powers while we’re at it!
The fad can best be described by the following tweet by @lukasbattle:
To be honest, Lukas truly hit the nail on the head -- especially with this show. Lead character Sydney Novak, played by IT’s Sophia Lillis, introduces herself as a “boring 17 year old white girl” with anger issues - woof. She then goes on to describe her two best friends, played by Sofia Bryant (The Good Wife) and Wyatt Oleff (IT), setting the tone for their high school stereotypes.
But what sets Sydney Novak apart from ~other girls~ is yes, her ability to move large objects with her mind, but also that she is gay-gay-GAY! (thank sweet baby Jesus!)
I absolutely loved dedicating my last Saturday off to devouring this whole queer season in one sitting, so here are my four reasons why I Am Not Okay With This is your new favorite show.
1. Central plot does not revolve around saving the world…yet!
Pretty much every movie or series revolving around a character suddenly gaining superpowers corresponds with them having to save the world from a big bad. The best example that I can think of that does NOT do this is the movie Matilda (1996), based off of the Roald Dahl novel. Sure, Matilda did save her student body and Miss Honey from the profoundly wicked Miss Trunchbull, (~butch queen supreme~) while emancipating herself from her biological ties to find love and acceptance in her chosen family (damn, was Matilda a queer story too??) BUT, Matilda herself was the only supernatural entity in her story.
With no larger-than-life threat, characters can have more time to build relationships with each other and experience the world in a real way. Season one of I Am Not Okay With This leaves us off on a cliffhanger and makes us very aware of a seemingly sinister supernatural character, which leads me to believe that there might be some world-threatening plot lines to come. If the show goes in that direction in season two, it will have definitely earned it, but I am grateful for the delightful simplicity of the small town first season. Sydney’s abilities are powerful as f***, to say the least, and with the right (or wrong) training, she has the potential to destroy the world or save it.
2. Sydney Novak is gay...and so is her best friend?!
When I first saw the preview for I Am Not Okay With This, I thought, oh please let this be a gay story, and it does not disappoint! The series is narrated by Sydney's diary entries, and right from the beginning there are a few tips that Sydney might in fact be a Gay. If you, like me, are gay and either was not out or not aware that you were in high school, you might have had some similar thoughts. The narration, “I only wanted a boy so I could keep up with Dina…” reminded me of the social pressure and thought process that went into entering heterosexual relationships in my teens and early twenties. Sydney sees her best friend excited about her boyfriend and develops a “this is what you’re supposed to be doing” attitude, when in fact, Dina is the one that Sydney has feelings for. This is continuously illustrated by how excited Sydney gets for alone time with Dina and her disappointment in Dina’s choice of a boyfriend. Sydney and Dina dancing to Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl during a party scene absolutely drives this point home.
The season isn’t about the two coming out, but the slow realizations of their feelings for one another while still participating in relationships with their respective male love interests. I will not lie to you, you will not get a happy cohesive gay couple moment from Dina and Sydney in the first season (especially after the events of the homecoming dance), but I do have high hopes for season two and am excited to see what the series has in store for this (hopeful) couple.
3. Real cute queer friendship between Sydney and Stanley!
It’s always fun when you get to see two actors from a popular film explore a very different relationship in another project. Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff both starred in the 2017 remake of Stephen King’s IT as Beverly Marsh and Stanley (ha! same name) Uris. I Am Not Okay with This gives these two actors an opportunity to flourish in these roles and continue to show off their capabilities. Sophia Lillis absolutely shines with her facial expressions and does not hold back in this role! Sydney and Stanley answer some important questions about human relationships, for example: can you sleep with your friend and still be buds? Yes! Can you have a crush on a new friend, get turned down by them, and still be buds? Yes! Being a teenager is tricky and experimenting with dating and sex when you’re young is certainly complicated, so seeing a positive example of this is truly refreshing. Getting rejected is rough, but Stanley takes it so well and still cares a whole bunch for his friend Sydney.
Side Note: Happy to report that I Am Not Okay With This does NOT overtly sexualize the teens’ experiences. Hollywood and other Netflix shows are certainly guilty of this...which is just so-damn-gross.
4. Smartly paced and directed story!
If you’re familiar with The End of the Fucking World, I Am Not Okay With This is based on a graphic novel written by the same author, Charles Forsman, and also shares a director, Jonathan Entwistle. I Am Not Okay With This is a quick watch to binge by yourself, with your part-time lover, or best friend! There are only seven episodes, each timing out to about twenty minutes. The editing and scenes are timed out for optimal comedic and dramatic effect. I found myself engaged the entire time. Aside from a few tired high school stereotypes playing out, this comedic drama stands out from the Netflix queue.
Hopes for the second season!
1. Would reeeaaaally love if the writers give us insight into Dina’s life.
Season one gave us a lot of information about Sydney and Stanley’s home life and it would be great to see more of that for Dina. We know that Dina is popular, fun, and spent a lot of the first season being manipulated and treated poorly by her boyfriend Brad, played by Richard Eliis (Veronica Mars). Unfortunately, there aren’t any scenes with Dina by herself interacting with a personal story line outside of the other teens, and that is a true waste. We get to see Dina standing up to her boyfriend at the end of the season and showing vulnerability by discussing her feelings with Sydney, so I am looking forward to seeing where her agency takes her in season two, especially (again I will reference this) after the events of the homecoming dance (duh-duh-DUUUH!).
2. We want to see Dina and Sydney TOGETHER!
With the way the season one finale wrapped up, I fear that it might be a bit before we get to see these two together. Despite this, I see how the show runners are building up to this relationship and can appreciate a slow burn. Still shouting for the show runners to give us the sweet and powerful queer relationship we all deserve!
3. Uncovering the identity of the mysterious shadow figure...
I have a few theories on who the mysterious man who approached Sydney in the last minute of the finale might be. He’s been keeping an eye on Sydney for the entirety of the first season and seems to have some big plans for her. Is this person connected to Sydney’s father’s past or maybe (could he be..) Sydney’s actual father?!
4. Sydney gets ahold of her powers!
Sydney is a POWERFUL telekinetic, but has not exhibited much ability to control her abilities. I have a feeling that this mystery character will offer her training and help her discover what she’s capable of.
So that’s that! What are your predictions for season two? What did you like or not like about this series? Let us know in the comments!
Content warning for folks who haven't seen the show: the plot deals with the aftermath of self-harm and suicide of a character. Nothing is shown on screen, but I felt the need include this. Unrelated, there is also one scene in the final episode featuring violent gore.