Everything Sucks! is a delightful, heartfelt, and nostalgic trip to 1996’s. The series is a nice reminder of all the things we loved about the 90’s, and all the things we are glad we left behind.
Everything Sucks! has already been getting comparisons to Stranger Things, but the two shows aren’t comparable. There is a sense of familiarity with some of the characters, but that is really the extent of the comparisons. The show starts off with three geeky friends who join the AV club. The cast is led by Jahi Di’Allo Winston who plays Luke O’Neil. He is intelligent, determined, and passionate about film. He is this show’s Lucas.
Everything Sucks has excellent world building. You really believe you are in the 90’s. The show is set in a small town called Boring, Oregon and it is not so different from Hawkins, Indiana. Our lead is raised by a single mom, and has a estranged relationship with his father, similar to Will. Kate (Peyton Kennedy) is raised by a single father, who is the principle of the high school and can be described as the nicer version of Chief Hopper. He too has tragedy he must overcome, and has a slightly strained relationship with his teen daughter.
After Luke, Tyler, and McQuaid (Rio Mangini) join the AV Club an incident occurs that sabotages the Drama clubs upcoming play. To force a peace agreement the two enemies combine their talents to make a movie.
Luke and Kate are our central characters, and the show explores Luke’s crush on Kate, and Kate’s sexual awakening. The show is set up to parody classic 90’s coming-of-age stories, and presents familiar tropes like this, a young geeky boy crushing on a young girl who is seemingly out of his league (or is taller). However, the show explores familiar teen relationships from a different point of view. Without giving spoiler aways, the show presents various familiar aspects of teen romances, but with surprising results.
What makes this show stand out from other coming-of-age stories is that there is a frankness to how the show approaches its themes, such as; parental abandonment, parental death, sexuality, ambition, love, and youth. Through the exploration of Luke and Kate’s relationship, their parents and friends, the show explores aspects of teen lives that are difficult but are totally natural.
The stars of the show are Winston and Kennedy as they are the ones who carry the show. They are incredibly relatable as Luke and Kate, and you genuinely hope they find happiness. Luke’s puppy love for Kate is admirable, but sometimes cringe-worthy. Kate’s self-discovery is sweet and honest. The two also deal with parental issues, Luke is overcoming the pain of not having his father around, and Kate is at a time in her life where he widowed father can’t quite connect. Their stories are nothing we haven’t seen before, but what makes theirs stand out is the talent and great writing on display. Winston and Kennedy are naturals when they are required to convey so much of their characters inner dialogue with a simple look. Often the camera will linger on their faces and it is incredible to learn so much through their silent performances. What could have been a cliché filled show manages to be a balanced and honest depiction of teens, with real teens!
The honest approach to its themes, and the depiction of these creative young mind are what makes the show so great. Watching Luke be this amateur director in high school makes you feel like you are watching the next Ryan Coogler or Barry Jenkins. His fellow classmates, particularly those in the Drama club, can easily become some of the biggest names in Hollywood one day. They are deeply passionate and determined to act and create art. Everyone knows kids like this in high school, or was that kid. Shows that depict teens tend to not feel realistic, often the cast look as though the should have graduated already. That is not the case with Everything Sucks, these are very much teens and each of us can identify with them.
The show is ten half-hour episodes long, created by Ben York Jones, who appears in show as the AV Club supervisor. It airs on Netflix February 16th. The show has great re-watchability, because the characters are so vibrant and wonderfully crafted. Hopefully, Netflix announces a season 2 soon. This cannot be the Freaks and Geeks of this generation! We must have a full series run to explore Luke and Kate’s growth throughout high school.