A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Characters don't always cope appropriately with their situations, but messages of courage and self-control shine through as we see resolutions that involve working through emotions and learning how to stay cool despite abundant pressures.
Positive Role Models
Sydney is a tortured young woman processing a terrible trauma and discovering new, uncomfortable things about herself. She's relatable, lovable, likely to resonate deeply with teens. Sydney's mother is something of a stereotype -- harried, absent, critical -- and there are jerky jocks who also seem cliché. But best buddy Stanley is charming and quirky, and Sydney has a great relationship with him and her sweet, troubled younger brother, Liam. Note that teens smoke pot and drink (see Drinking, Drugs & Smoking section) and are frequently cruel to each other.
Violence & Scariness
A parent's death by suicide looms over this drama; he hung himself in his basement, which is referred to frequently (but we don't see visuals). A character has otherworldly powers; expect sci-fi/fantasy violence. One shocking bloody scene in which a character's head explodes. Implied physical abuse by a parent, which happens off-screen; the victimized character turns up with a black eye.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teen characters have sex off-screen and may refer to it in blunt terms: "He was so good at going down on me," says one teen to another. We see kissing (same- and opposite-sex), flirting; lots of discussion of dating and romance. A teen boy calls a girl "firecrotch," and teachers tolerate ribald sexual joking in class. One character tells another she had sex, and the other immediately asks if she used a condom. There's infidelity, with some explicit description.
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Language is frequent: "f--k," "f--king," "s--tty," "badass," "d--khead." A parent tells a teen who has a somewhat unconventional gender presentation that he looks "like a f--got."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character is a frequent pot smoker who smokes with a character who has never indulged and voices a desire to blank out her negative emotions. After smoking, the two then head out for a drive and the newbie says, "My eyes felt heavy and my mind felt empty." A parent is referred to as a "pothead" and it's said about another that "the later she gets home, the more wine she drinks." Teens at a party drink out of Solo cups, beer bottles, a flask and use being drunk as excuse for a kiss.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.