A series set in the mid-1990s about a group of high schoolers living in a town called Boring; this is the very basic synopsis of the new Netflix original series titled Everything Sucks! At first glance, it may seem like a typical project created to satisfy the nostalgic cravings many feel about a "simpler time." Back when dial-up was all the rage and the beaming neon glow of a Blockbuster store soothed your Friday night woes. Initially when I began watching the series I figured this is what it would showcase and hey, I'm all for a light watch that contains references here and there to the 90s or whatever time period a series is set in.
What I ultimately got after ten episodes was an utterly enjoyable exploration of a bunch of characters who became more and more endearing as the series progressed. I didn't expect to become as emotionally invested as I did and I'm currently suffering through withdrawal because of my unsupervised binging.
Have a Boring day!
Everything Sucks! takes place in the small town of Boring, Oregon where tourists show up solely to take a picture with the town sign and subsequently leaving on their merry way once said picture is taken. The series is co-created by Ben York Jones (Like Crazy) and Michael Mohan and follows the lives of two Boring High School groups — the A/V and Drama Club — while primarily focusing on the relationship between the principal's daughter Kate Messner (Peyton Kennedy) and freshman Luke O'Neil (Jahi Di'Allo Winston). The way in which Kate and Luke's relationship is explored cannot be overestimated, I believe it is executed delightfully. As Kate struggles with her sexuality and feelings for Drama Club Queen Emaline Addario (Sydney Sweeney) during a time when not following the status quo could constitute social suicide, Luke remains a trusted counterpart with his own respective internal conflicts.
Both characters, who could be considered on the "nerdy" spectrum of the high school hierarchy, are written in a respectful way without the need to solely rely on typical cringe-inducing character tropes. Of course, that's not to say there aren't clichéd traits certain characters possess but in the immortal words of Osgood Fielding III, nobody's perfect.
The Kids Are Alright
Linda Cardellini's seminal performance as Lindsay Weir in the short-lived yet beloved series Freaks And Geeks is an obvious influence for Kate's character. Both characters showcase the complexities involved with being a young woman (the constant feeling of emotional turmoil, hesitating about virtually every decision you make) without ever dumbing them down or poking fun at the idea of a young person dealing with the constant emotions fluttering around in their stomach.
As a grown adult woman who was once a teen girl, adolescence is a damn difficult time and experiencing it with hoards of other individuals enduring the same thing could be tantamount to torture.
While Lindsay and Kate do strive to avoid conflict as best as they can, there are moments sprinkled throughout the series where they effectively put their foot down, ultimately highlighting their development as a character. Their arcs are superbly compelling which lead you to genuinely want to see them succeed in whatever venture their hearts' desire.
Like billions of other people on Earth and probably the cosmos, I've watched the other original Netflix series that encapsulates a beloved time period in Stranger Things. An aspect of that particular series I enjoy the most is easily the phenomenal chemistry between its young cast and watching the Everything Sucks! crew interact with each other gave me happy flashbacks to when I fell in love with the Stranger crew. Each respective crew attempts to solve issues that arise from the perspective of what their character would most likely think of. Sometimes they're wildly wrong, other times they're surprisingly right, what remains consistent is the depiction of their character accurately translates to what someone in their position may do when faced with a similar conflict.
It's also unbelievably refreshing seeing young people depicted on-screen without the need for them being precocious or unfathomably annoying.
With every coming-of-age story that works to grip your entire being, the ensemble cast is just as important than your main leads. While you're already invested in Kate and Luke from the getgo, the attachment you feel for the other members of the A/V and Drama Club creep up on you like a sugar rush of Surge. After all the necessary '90s references are made toward the beginning of the season, the showrunners are free to explore the rest of the ensemble cast, particularly with Luke's best friends Tyler (Quinn Liebling) and McQuaid (Rio Mangini).
There are parallels made between certain members of each crew and contains subtle explorations of their characters that were surprisingly impactful since I initially didn't expect anything remotely profound from the series; imagine my surprise when I found myself weeping at the end of a particular episode!
Everything Sucks! handles certain topics faced by arguably every young person at least once in their life in a respectful matter, whether it be witnessing how your parent is dealing with unimaginable grief or wondering what Alanis Morissette finds so ironic. Kennedy expressed the following on what the series deals with and is a significant reason for why I enjoyed it as much as I did:
“It’s real life... It’s not glamorized. It’s not like you barely see the layers of it. There’s so much to be seen there, ’cause we deal with everything.”
Look, as much as I can relate to the gorgeously beautiful teenagers (as portrayed by 28 year olds) in a number of "teen"-centric TV shows who must unfortunately deal with being coked out of their minds on prom night, there's something genuine about watching a bunch of young people patiently wait for the dial-up to connect to The Net.
If I had to describe the series in one word, it'd be "genuine." There's a sweetly authentic feeling to it that you may only be able to recognize if you watch a few episodes.
There are moments that make you shudder with embarrassment, be overcome with immense pride, or cry uncontrollably for no apparent reason but that's what adolescence is and while it may occasionally suck, there are moments where it's truly all that and a bag of chips.
Everything Sucks! is currently available to stream on Netflix.
A second season has yet to be officially confirmed so my fingers will remain crossed until we hear word.