The Start Of The F***ing World
In 2017, Charles Forsman released I Am Not Okay With This, a graphic novel focussing on a young girl named Sydney Novak who not only has your typical 15-year-old troubles like being madly in love with your best female friend or coping with the traumatic death of her father, she also discovers she has telekinetic powers that keep going off at random moments without much ability to control them.
The graphic novel came out, coincidentally, around the same time that Netflix released their adaptation of Forsman’s original work The End Of The F***ing World and since that series came out to rave reviews and a large enough audience to warrant a second season, Netflix clearly saw they had found something special and so they scooped up the rights to I Am Not Okay With This and now we have another series about a depressed youth who is a little weird and ends up doing bad things… and I’m very happy to have it.
From the moment the series opens with the image of our main character covered in blood and telling her diary to go fuck itself, I Am Not Okay With This pretty much tells you the exact tone it’s going to carry throughout its seven-episode run. Sydney (Sophia Ellis) has been slightly aged up to 17 and is given an almost constant inner monologue that lets us get to know this character. It’s helpful because she’s so repressed and withdrawn that she refuses to let anyone know too much about her, not even her best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant) whom she has a massive crush on.
The one person who comes close to getting to really know Sydney on a deeper level is her neighbour, Stanley Barber (Wyatt Oleff), who is awkward as hell and embraces all his weirdness. This little trio of friends/crushes is where most of the dramatic tension comes from, every episode throwing a new curveball in the direction of their relationships and what they mean to each other. It’s your typical teenage love triangle but with superpowers, which is always a fun combination.
Familiar Yet New
Everything has a strong Carrie vibe going on, with an overbearing mother and people treating Sydney like a freak for no reason. Even the opening shot of Sydney in a prom dress covered in blood walking down a street is almost a direct copy of the same image from the immortal Stephen King novella except this version of Carrie has friends and a support system and people who care about her. The series shows that even with the best support system, sometimes anger and anxiety can still overwhelm you and it does so mostly thanks to a stellar performance by its lead.
If you thought Sophia Ellis was incredible in It as Beverly Marsh then just wait till you see what she does here. The entire series relies on her to carry it and she makes it look easy. She owns every scene, makes you invested and hope that Sydney will get everything under control even with the opening shot making it clear that something is going to go very wrong.
Sophia’s scenes with her former It co-star Wyatt Oleff are some of the highlights of the series, particularly in episode four (Stan By Me) where they basically have an entire act to just bounce off each other and understand her powers. That one act has all the best lines, a variation on the training montage that’s genuinely clever and some brilliant acting by Sophia and Wyatt, all culminating in a final moment of the episode that really shows the problems with the characters relationship.
Every plot thread builds perfectly, like a jigsaw puzzle that culminates perfectly in episode seven (Deepest, Darkest Secret) where everything we’ve seen up to that point explodes in a finale that will have you sitting bolt upright in your seat right until the cliffhanger ending that I genuinely hope they get to resolve with another season because that ending will only be satisfying if we get a season two. It’s a bold move to bet on a second season so blatantly but this series is good enough that I have faith they’ll get one.
Short & Sweet
With only seven episodes that barely even take up two and a half hours, you can breeze through this in no time and be rewarded for the time you’ve spent. There isn’t an ounce of fat on this, there are no filler episodes to be seen. The closest we get to filler is maybe episode five (Another Day In Paradise) which is mostly about trying to delete security camera footage and it would be a pointless detour if it didn’t also contain a key inciting incident for the climax of the series.
I Am Not Okay With This is a series that’s best viewed in one big binge so you can appreciate all the little details and how well everything is set up. It’s probably one of the shorter series that Netflix has released but it gives you a lot for the time that it asks for. It’s a fascinating and easy watch that is very enjoyable from start to finish, even when it sometimes feels like Carrie: The Miniseries.