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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Am Not Okay with This is a drama about a teen girl (Sophia Lillis) who is struggling with complicated feelings about her (female) best friend and the death of her dad at the same time that she is realizing she has supernatural powers. Characters are relatable, particularly Lillis' Sydney, who is righteously angry yet working through terrible trauma, largely by connecting with family and friends and developing her powers of self-control with fortitude and courage. Some characters are a bit stereotypical, like a group of mean jocks, but others are fully realized and sympathetic. A parent's suicide is a plot point and is referred to frequently, though we don't see images. Teens and adults drink and smoke pot to cope with their emotions; there are no visible consequences. They also drive after smoking pot. Romance is another central plot point; expect same- and opposite-sex kissing, flirting, and dating, as well as sometimes vulgar references to off-screen sex (teens do ask each other if they used a condom during sex). Language is frequent: "f--k," "f--king," "s--tty," "badass," "d--khead." A character can move things without touching them and experiences surges of power when angry. Expect fantasy violence, which can be bloody and harmful to others.
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What's the story?
Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Charles Forsman (The End of the F***ing World), I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS stars Sophia Lillis as Sydney, who self-describes as a "boring 17-year-old White girl" but is anything but ordinary. You see, along with the typical adolescent problems and terrible grief after the recent death of her father, she has confusing feelings about her best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant), who just started dating insufferable meathead Brad (Richard Ellis). It's a good thing she has her other best friend Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) on her side -- particularly when she discovers that her teenage meltdowns come with a literal body count.
Is it any good?
Lillis is very good in this teen angst-meets-superhero drama with a terrific premise, cool characters, and quirky, wonderful cast. Things get off to a bit of a shaky start when a bloodied Sydney stalks down the middle of a paved road with fury in her eye as the voice-over says "Dear diary: Go f--k yourself." Voice-overs are notoriously tricky things (though The End of the F***ing World largely used the device successfully), and it's certainly taking a risk to have the very first line of your show half cribbed from Heathers, half a bland (if vulgar) cliché. But Lillis is so good that she makes viewers buy right in to her character's irony and anger, and she has such great chemistry with every other actor on screen that her skills are immediately made clear.
The building relationship between Sydney and Stanley (the Duckie to Lillis' Andie) is particularly choice, and feels playful and sweet and real, grounding the supernatural goings-on. Speaking of those, they make pleasant wish-fulfillment for teens, particularly the teenage and 20-something female viewers this series is aimed at, who may know a thing or two personally about impotent rage. Building a drama around an angry young woman whose fury can literally kill is a unique idea, TV series-wise, and Lillis makes her angst relatable. The moments when she lets her freak flag fly are positively exhilarating. I Am Not Okay with This is a winner.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how I Am Not Okay with This portrays teens and their struggles. Are Sydney and Stanley believable characters? What do you think of their attempts to use alcohol and drugs to deal with their problems? What are some more constructive ways of coping? Is it a problem to depict underage drinking on TV shows?
Families can also 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?
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