Everything Sucks!

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Everything Sucks! TV Poster Image
Sweet, sensitive, authentic '90s-set teen drama is a winner.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 25 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 15 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

This teen drama captures the good and the bad about the way adolescents relate to each other: at times sincerely kind ("You're cute," Kate tells Luke in the first episode, igniting a fierce crush), at times thoughtlessly cruel (graffiti on Kate's locker reads "DYKE"). 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters, adult and teen, are realistic and easy to love. Luke is hopeful and emotional; Kate is confused and conflicted. Parents, too, are unsure about themselves, but trying their best to navigate life honestly and kindly. Emaline and Oliver are presented as less kind, and, in Emaline's case, actually cruel to others: "I'm going to make your life hell, freshman," she tells Luke. 

Violence

The slings and arrows characters suffer are mostly emotional, but there are occasional references to violence like when two characters fake suicide during a theatrical scene, one character pretending to cut her own throat (with a corn dog) and gasping and falling to the ground. 

Sex

Teens and adults alike are interested in sex and romance. Teens talk about getting "laid" and Tori Amos naming an album after orgasms. One character is gay, which is referred to as "gross" by other students. She is teased and has "DYKE" written on her locker. When a character discovers a porn magazine, we briefly see the breasts of women pictured in the magazine; a young girl looks at it and unzips her pants, presumably to masturbate. 

Language

Cursing is occasional: "s--t," "damn," "hell," "ass," a boy calls a girl a "bitch" in character during a dramatic scene and then later during an argument. There's also insulting language: "morons" "farts," "homo," "dyke." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One (adult) character smokes a cigarette in an old videotape; parents give marijuana a try, and get the munchies and giggle. Teens drink beer and play spin the bottle; later, a group tries to get high by eating nutmeg (but just end up getting sick). 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Everything Sucks! is a drama series about high school students and their parents navigating life in the 1990s. Mature content is a bit milder than in some other high school-set shows, but it's still there: Both teens and adults are interested in love and sex and talk about dating, kissing, having sex (referred to at least once as getting "laid"), and sexual acts such as a "hand job." One character is gay and conflicted, which viewers find out when she steals a magazine full of photos of naked women (their breasts are briefly seen) and unbuckles her pants as if to touch herself. She's frequently teased about being gay and is called "gross," "homo," and "dyke" by her peers (though her father and other friends are understanding and accepting). Cursing is infrequent but includes "s--t," "damn," "hell," "ass," and "bulls--t." A boy calls a girl a "bitch," once in jest and once because he's angry. For older teens and adults who remember the trials of high school all too well, this is a fun choice with a unique coming-out story at its heart. 

User Reviews

Adult Written byShayna C. February 17, 2018

Everything Sucks

The show has lots of sexual talk. The first episode has a pornographic magazine. It clearly shows topless women and then a young girl masturbates. I turned the... Continue reading
Adult Written byAnna T. February 20, 2018

Inappropriate

I wanted to like this show, and I would have stuck with it through an awkward episode or two to see if it hit its stride later in the season. It started out wit... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byYasmintheWild February 18, 2018

Just a few scenes.

This show has a few scenes that maybe aren't appropriate for kids under the age of 13. At one point you can see a few topless models and a person almost en... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byHunter.O February 19, 2018

No

Just, just no.

What's the story?

For Luke (Jahi Winston) and Kate (Peyton Kennedy), EVERYTHING SUCKS! in Boring, Oregon, in 1996. When freshman Luke and his geeky A/V club friends McQuaid (Rio Mangini) and Tyler (Quinn Liebling) run afoul of the cool-but-cranky students in the drama club, chiefly unstable Emaline (Sydney Sweeney) and imperious Oliver (Elijah Stevenson), the two clubs join forces -- for good or for ill? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, Kate is navigating some bumpy personal problems of her own, particularly that her single dad and school principal Mr. Messner (Patch Darragh) is now dating Luke's mom, Sherry (Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako). 

Is it any good?

Sweet, sensitive, funny, and authentic, this series will worm its way into the hearts of viewers whether they're currently dealing with high school angst or just remember it well. Like other well-loved teen dramedies, Everything Sucks! scores by giving every character humanity. We expect that Luke and his friends will be the center of the action and our sympathies, much like Bill, Sam, and Neal were one of the geeky hearts on Freaks and Geeks, and Mike, Dustin, Will, and Lucas anchor Stranger Things. What other, lesser shows get wrong, Everything Sucks! gets right: Parents are also shown as whole people with inner lives and feelings, and the characters who come off at first as tough bullies are only acting tough because they're so vulnerable inside. 

Everything Sucks! also has a secret weapon in Kate, sensitively and compellingly played by Peyton Kennedy. As a young woman with more to worry about than what's for school lunch, she's mercurial and yearning and real in a way female characters seldom are. Viewers old enough to remember My So-Called Life will immediately recall the mesmerizing Angela Chase, and how she conveyed her complicated feelings with pained gazes and meaningful pauses. Kennedy has the same appeal, and will reach other teens struggling to make sense of their feelings. So despite the could-be-ironic 1990s trappings -- there are slap bracelets and hacky sacks and scrunchies galore -- Everything Sucks! is deeply unironic, and moving, sweet, and funny, destined to take its place in the pantheon of high school classics. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about stereotyping. What instances of stereotyping exist in Everything Sucks!? Do the characters reflect the groups you see among your peers? To what degree is stereotyping necessary for the comedy to be effective?

  • Can you relate to the characters' troubles in this show? If so, how? Would the show be any more effective if it were set more recently? What, if any, messages is the show attempting to send to viewers?

  • How do the characters in Everything Sucks! learn and demonstrate empathy and self-control? Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

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