Parents' Guide to

My Summer as a Goth

By JK Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Stale, predictable teen drama has drugs, sex, cursing.

Movie NR 2020 100 minutes
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Perfectly average for its kind, this light teen dramedy just about stays together. In My Summer as a Goth, main character Joey is sincere, funny, decent, and kind. Shershow shows a deft desperation in Joey that's far and beyond the most nuanced aspect of the entire film. She yearns for something, a connection, love, to maybe replace the connection and love she had with her father before he died. It doesn't matter what kind of love or connection, just as long as it's genuine and true. She thinks she finds these in Victor, but he's quickly revealed to be an abusive and selfish manipulator. The problem, though, is that Joey is the last to know and doesn't stand up for herself because of Victor's awful behavior, like how he constantly shames her for how she looks, often ditches her without explanation, or pressures her into engaging in dangerous activities. Joey doesn't stand up for herself after these signals and red flags, after warnings from her grandparents, but only after she sees Victor in bed with another woman.

Outside of Shershow's wonderfully emotive performance, Joey is too often written as naturally agreeable and passive: always blindly following Victor's commands, constantly chasing after him asking people where he is, and generally too willing to go along with risky decisions. The writers also give the honor of enacting Victor's comeuppance to Joey's mother, who appears very briefly, over Joey, which robs her and the audience of any greater sense of victory over the abusive and toxic Victor. The film also seems to condone underage drinking and drug use (marijuana only) because there never are any consequences for these behaviors. Further, it feels like the film skates over Victor's couple of nonconsensual kisses, moments of witnessed abuse, and Victor's general horribleness because all Joey does is keep trying (until she sees him with another woman) and her goth friends do and say nothing to help or to Victor to maybe try to let him know that it's not nice or ethical to "toy" with an innocent young woman. In the end, My Summer as a Goth doesn't really depict goth culture warmly.

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