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I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS (S1) gets 8.5/10 Like John Hughes directed Carrie


Developed by Jonathan Entwistle and Christy Hall

Starring Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Kathleen Rose Perkins
Network: Netflix

8.5/10

I Am Not Okay With This is the second Charles Forsman graphic novel adaption (after the success of The End of the F***ing World) consisting of seven episodes about an angsty young girl, surrounded by awkward family drama and unrequited love, who discovers her budding superpowers. From the introductory image dripping in visual cues from Stephen King’s Carrie, through to the charming adolescence found in Juno – Sophia Lillis grounds the series with a strong performance as Sydney Novak, alternately traversing heavy and shallow territory.

Visually, the series holds many tones similar to fan favourites over the years. As the production team contains some of the people behind Stranger Things, the design elements contain a familiar hue. In the small town of Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the era seems very close to the 70s/80s – which is rebuked by the inclusion of an openly gay and married character.

In this, I Am Not Okay With This continues to build on the offbeat and quirky nature of graphic novels. It is clear that Entwistle has been inspired by not only Twin Peaks, but also classics such as The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and other John Hughes favourites as you tick off with each episode. The ending is hit or miss – whether you find the simplicity in the final events gratifying or find them unfulfilling – the series is generally strong, articulated, and refreshing.

It should be noted that I Am Not Okay With This features a small Easter egg of James and Alyssa (The End of the F***ing World), and teases a shared universe. Whilst these characters are in the United Kingdom, Sydney is coming into her powers – could this be another Netflix teaser of a crossover event, much like Sabrina and Riverdale? When asked, director Jonathan Entwistle said, “It was not a plan. Simply an Easter egg, linking us all together. But it would be interesting [to have a crossover], but I’m not sure how we’d do it.”

Overall the series is a highly ambitious and exiting new series, and a rare instance where Rotten Tomatoes and the public eye can mutually agree. The narration, episodic length, and delivery make it a new take on the literary genre of epistolary – as Sydney begins each episode with “Dear Diary.” The series is fun, engaging, and does not always meet the expected result. I Am Not Okay With This is one of those moments where graphic novel writing has been adapted seamlessly for the small screen.

JOSHUA HALL HAINES

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