I Am Not Okay With This, Netflix

I’ll forgive anything that has cult 1960s folk singer Karen Dalton on its soundtrack, though by the time Dalton’s Something On Your Mind arrives – mid-way through episode two – there’s little about this quirky coming-of-age drama that needs forgiving.

Unsurprisingly (this is Netflix, after all) I Am Not Okay With This is based on a graphic novel of the same name by Charles Forsman, who also authored The End Of The F***ing World, a hit for Channel 4 when it was filmed in 2017. It’s directed by Jonathan Entwhistle, who also helmed The End Of The F***ing World, and comes from the producers of Stranger Things. Oh, and its leads are Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff, stars of the recent Stephen King remakes It and It: Chapter Two (and probably the best things in them, though that wouldn’t be hard).

Lillis plays 17-year-old Sydney. She’s new in town, a tomboy whose stoner father killed himself a year earlier and whose wine-slurping mother works shifts at the local diner to make ends meet. Syd’s getting spots on her thighs but, more problematic, she’s also developing destructive and disruptive super-powers she can’t control but which manifest themselves when she’s angry or upset. Like when her mother doesn’t give her enough money for the groceries and she makes all the goods fly off the shelves.

Syd’s best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant) has taken up with the local jock. That means Syd’s left to hang out with younger brother Liam (Aidan Wojtak-Hissong), a likeable child genius she calls Goob, and oddball neighbour Stanley (Oleff). His truck driver father is away most of the time and his mother is long gone so Stanley sits around in his (admittedly very cool-looking) basement smoking weed and listening to his favourite band, Bloodwitch. On vinyl, of course. He also has interesting views on VHS as a platform (something about the texture) and why the school’s Friday night gridiron games are like Shakespearean theatre. Soon enough he and Syd are an item. Sort of.

I’m Not Okay With This isn’t jaw-droppingly original. It sits safely in the mid-point between MisFits, Alan Garner’s The Owl Service and the films of Todd Solondz and John Hughes (and you could probably also add Ghost World and Stranger Things itself to that list). But it’s refreshing, funny, potty-mouthed, quietly subversive and reassuringly offbeat, thanks in large part to the performances of its amiable leads and a less-is-more script by playwright Christy Hall.