From The End of the F***ing World director Jonathan Entwistle and Stranger Things producer Shawn Levy comes Netflix’s newest binge-worthy series, I Am Not Okay With This.
Based on the comic book of the same name (and written by Charles Forsman, who also wrote The End of the F***ing World), the show centers around Sydney, played by Sophia Lillis, a teen who discovers she has super powers when she’s really just trying to make her way through puberty. By her side are the usual suspects in any good high school story: Stanley, played by Lillis’s It co-star Wyatt Oleff, is the awkward kid trying to push his way into Syd’s orbit; Dina (Sofia Bryant) is the cool new girl and Syd’s true best friend; and Brad (Richard Ellis) is the jock that Syd just has to tolerate because he happens to be dating said best friend.
At a recent press event for the show, the stars sat down with MTV News to talk about what they loved most about the show — and what they think you’ll love too. So, from the mouths of the cast: Here are five reasons I Am Not Okay With This deserves to be your next big binge.
It’s a breeze to watch
Each episode of I Am Not Okay With This clocks in around 20 minutes, and with only seven episodes in its first season, it is entirely reasonable (and not embarrassing at all) to watch it all in one sitting. “It’s like watching a long movie, basically,” Ellis says. “The characters are so endearing and you really are rooting for them and you want to see what happens.”
Bryant adds that director Entwistle really knows how to keep the audience hooked. “You can see with The End of the F***ing World too, he really likes to keep them short and sweet and simple, but there's still so much packed in there.”
Sure, this is a show about a teen discovering her super powers, but underneath the forest-clearing fits of rage, I Am Not Okay With This is about that awkward time in high school when weird things are happening to your body and the way you relate to others starts to change. “There's definitely something to be said about the show's grasp of puberty,” Oleff adds, recalling one giggly scene in which Stanley and Sydney show off their body acne. “It tackles those kinds of struggles that a lot of teens go through very naturally.”
Even in the moments where Sydney’s powers uncontrollably explode out of her — when she’s angry — the fact that she’s a teen experiencing normal teen things is never lost. “Of course no one has super powers, but I know for me, I was like, I completely feel what she's feeling right now,” Bryant says, to which Oleff adds, “Everyone absolutely feels that rage at some point in their teen life.”
Each character adds something different
I Am Not Okay With This portrays a range of high school experiences and the weird, sometimes surprising ways they intersect. “Everyone has a role that really adds on to Sydney's life,” Oleff says. No one is there just to be there; they have their own engaging ups and downs.
With each character experiencing high school on their own path, the show offers an “authentic” look at high school, Bryant says. “Everyone can relate to this and can find themselves in this show and in characters,” whether that’s Stanley weathering constant rejection, Dina having fun with her growing popularity, or Brad being… Well, Lillis points out, you don’t really want to find yourself in Brad, who is definitely a bully. “I mean, if you do, then that’s worrying!”
The nostalgia runs deep
I Am Not Okay With This is set firmly in the present day, but as Bryant puts it, “There's a contemporary timelessness.” Instagram lives right alongside a retro wardrobe and decor of yesteryear, evoking those feelings you get when you go back to your childhood home, or spend a day at your grandparent’s house.
At the same time, the show highlights those classic high school touchstones: letterman jackets, house parties, first tokes. “Homecoming,” Bryant excitedly adds, noting that she never went to prom, so filming homecoming felt like a nice stand-in. And what’s homecoming without the big game? “It was funny seeing these football games not look like you were at a division one college with 60,000 people,” Ellis says. “It's like, kids learning how to play the tuba for the first time and people who aren't really that interested in the game.”
With angst and anger abound, I Am Not Okay With This never takes itself too seriously. “There's a bit of dark humor which I really enjoy,” Lillis says.
Part of it is in the irony of Sydney’s character. You see, even though she’s experiencing the most awesome ride of discovering she has super powers, she could not care less. “She decided to not think about that and think about the real troubles, which is high school, and having your crush, and thigh acne, and all that stuff,” Lillis adds. It’s not the typical superhero trope in which powers reveal themselves, and then the hero gets to work.
And part of it is in the script and its delivery. Lillis laughs every time she hears the way she says “lessofafuck,” and Ellis still gawks when he recalls reading the line in the finale: “[Redacted]’s fucking head explodes.”
I Am Not Okay With This is a genuine good time, and definitely worth the two-and-a-half hour investment. The complete first season is streaming now on Netflix.