What I’m watching: I am not okay with this

 In Blog post

(2020, first season streaming on Netflix)

“Dear Diary. Go **** yourself.”

So begins the voiceover of Netflix’s latest coming-of-age series, as our protagonist, Syd, limps down a dark road, drenched in blood, sirens wailing in the background.

Poster for 'I Am Not Okay With This'
Poster for ‘I Am Not Okay With This’

Syd is angry. At her overworked and harassed mum; at her dumb school and polluted, poverty-struck town; at her dad, for taking his own life without explanation; at her best friend Dina, for ditching her to date a jock; and at her body, for giving her zits on her thighs. Eww.

No, she isn’t okay with any of this. And when her confusion, grief, and loneliness boils over, the things around her start to rattle, and – wait, is this a superhero series?

Syd’s superpowers (that’s right – she has superpowers) are a manifestation of her anger and confusion with the world, and her overwhelming desire to fit in. She thinks the only way to control this rage is to stay invisible and blend into the background as a “boring 17-year-old white girl”, shoulders hunched, hoping her peers won’t notice her.

It’s something other queer teens may empathise with. Syd’s powers symbolise her anger and depression; they also symbolise her angst at her growing awareness of her queer sexuality, fearing rejection from her friends and peers.  It is at these times, acting out of jealousy or fear of being outed, that her powers express themselves most explosively.

But quite apart from being a TV series with a badass snarky heroine coming to terms with her sexuality (surely reason enough to watch it), “I am not okay with this” is a hugely entertaining and darkly comic coming-of-age drama. The supporting characters are fantastic, particularly Wyatt Oleff as her quirky stoner friend Stanley, and Sophia Lillis brings an intensity and vulnerability to Syd that makes you feel deeply for her despite her flaws.

The series zips along in only seven gripping 20 minute episodes, and is a must watch for anyone who has struggled with their hormones, their feelings, or thigh zits. Basically, everyone.

John Mason – Volunteer

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Octavia Hill