‘I Am Not Okay With This’ Review: Queer, Grieving and Mind Blowing
“My name is Sydney, I’m a boring 17 year old white girl,” Sydney Novak declares as she walks off of a school bus and into audience’s view.
Sydney Novak (played by Sophia Lillis) is the angst filled protagonist of Netflix’s new series, I Am Not Okay With This. The series highlights the struggles of navigating high school, with a few added twists.
Viewers quickly learn of Sydney’s “rage”, most likely a result of her father’s suicide that occurred a year ago.
Audiences first see Syd express her rage by breaking pencils, kicking trash cans and cutting the edges of her hair. All of which are not too bad considering she lost her father. But her rage quickly manifest in less subdued ways.
While out with her best friend, Dina (played by Sofia Bryant), Syd comes to the realization that she might not be as boring as she previously thought. Syd gets frustrated by the presence of Dina’s boyfriend, Brad Lewis (played by Richard Ellis), and gives him a nose bleed.
No, she does not have super strength and land an extra strong hit.
No, she does not have extreme hand-eye coordination and precisely throws a fountain drink at Brad.
She does it with her mind. A 17 year old girl gets so mad at a boy’s presence that she gives him a nose bleed with nothing more than some internalized aggression.
A dream power among most girls and women.
However, Syd isn’t the biggest fan of her new found powers. She tries to convince herself that she is hallucinating repeatedly but eventually there is no denying that she is far from “boring”.
Before the season comes to an end, Syd throws bowling balls, tosses book shelves , flattens part of a forest and ,ultimately, makes Brad’s head explode. Again, with nothing more than internalized rage.
The series is dark, not only because Syd kills her bully, but there are also elements of suicide, child abuse and toxic relationships.
While the build up is slow and may feel uninspired due to the amount of dark dramas based on the lives of teenagers, the story maintains allure due to the characters.
We have the slow build up of a romance between Syd and Dina, Stanley (played by Wyatt Oleff) who remains chipper despite an abusive father and Syd’s rejection of him, Maggie (played by Kathleen Rose Perkins) ,Syd’s mother, who is balancing the role of a single mother while working and feeling rejected by Syd. All the characters are believable and audiences can identify with at least one of them, despite how not boring they are.
With the series ending on a cliffhanger, it is easy to assume that audiences will see Syd reach even more not boring heights.
I Am Not Okay With This was released on Feb. 26 on Netflix.