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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a drama about a young man who agrees to act as a guardian for his teen half sisters after their dad dies. One of the sisters, Matilda, has autism, which is referred to often; she accepts her strengths and limitations, and is able to find ways to connect with those around her and to calm down when she feels overwhelmed. Her family members also accept her fully, and work with her to build authentic, supportive relationships that demonstrate teamwork and self-control. Matilda, younger sister Genevieve, and Nicholas are all interested in romance; Nicholas is openly gay and accepted by all, and Matilda struggles to relate to other people, but is depicted as being worthy of romantic attention and intrepid about finding ways to get it. Expect same- and opposite-sex kissing, flirting, dates, references and jokes about sex. There are also jokes about drugs, and scenes with characters drinking, sometimes in bars, though no one acts drunk. No violence, but there are upsetting scenes with characters grieving a parents' death, and a bullying scene in which one character is pelted by tampons after getting her first period (she is supported by her family and by a thoughtful teacher). Cursing is infrequent but "bitch," "hell," and "s--t" are all heard.
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What's the story?
Nicholas' (Josh Thomas) life is already messy when he learns his dad (Christopher May) has terminal cancer, but as he agrees to act as guardian for his teen half sisters Matilda (Kayla Cromer) and Genevieve (Maeve Press), he reassures them all that EVERYTHING'S GONNA BE OKAY with him in charge. Willing but inexperienced, Nicholas doesn't even know his sisters that well, and the relationships are complicated by Matilda's autism and both sisters' grief over their father's death. It isn't a perfect situation. But the family's stuck with it, so they may as well make the best of it.
Is it any good?
Sweet without being saccharine, beautiful without turning pretentious, and charming without leaning cutesy, this gorgeous found-family series is a treat. Everything's Gonna Be Okay imagines a world where its characters are far from perfect, but they're accepted and loved anyway, quirks, downsides, and all. With her characteristic bluntness, Matilda is perhaps the most unusual of the sibling trio that forms the centerpiece of this show. When she tells little sis Genevieve she plans to ask out her crush and is informed that she doesn't know said crush well enough to ask him on a date yet, Matilda's bold enough to march right up to Luke at lunchtime where he's sitting with a crowd of cool-kid male friends and unleash a volley of questions about him. On a nastier, more typical show, this would have been the moment Luke's friends would have sniggered and Luke would have mocked Matilda. Instead, Luke recognizes Matilda's weirdness but appreciates it, summing her up: "You're awesome." And Matilda's so happy, she dances away.
Later, a grieving Nicholas hopes for a hug. But Matilda never really liked hugs, she says -- she just did it to make her dad happy, and now he's gone, so she was hoping to give them up. "Okay," Nicholas responds evenly. "But how can I get the feeling that I would have gotten when we hugged?" "Maybe we can dance together?" Matilda offers. Cue the dance music, with visuals of Matilda, Nicholas, and soon, a reluctant-at-first Genevieve ripping up handfuls of their dad's funeral flowers and throwing them up like confetti as they dance beneath. A world where limitations are recognized and faced honestly and where characters work together to figure out and then get what they need? Sign us up, we're all in.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why parents are often absent in stories about teens and young children. What types of storytelling would the presence of parents inhibit? What types of dilemmas do children and teens find themselves in when they must act as their own authority? Does Everything's Gonna Be Okay make its situation look challenging? Glamorous? Both?
Everything's Gonna Be Okay was created by Josh Thomas, who plays Nicholas. Is it common for actors to write shows they can star in? Why would a creator want to create roles for themselves? Are these roles generally central? Sympathetic? Why?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love drama
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