- Netflix’s new original series “Everything Sucks!” does not suck at all.
- It takes awhile to get good, but it’s worth your time.
- It’s reminiscent of “Freaks and Geeks,” but set in the 90s.
- It tells the story of a teenage girl coming to terms with being gay, and her classmates who are trying to figure out who they are.
By now, you may have heard the hype around Netflix’s “Everything Sucks!,” which made its debut Friday and has been called the service’s next “sleeper hit.”
In the weeks before its release, the show’s been unfairly compared to “Stranger Things,” simply because it features a young cast and takes place in a nostalgic decade: the 90s.
Like “Stranger Things,” “Everything Sucks!” is a love letter to the decade, but there are absolutely no Upside Downs, shadow monsters, Eggo waffles, or Winona Ryders. Just the ups and downs of being a teenager, set to 90s songs from your favorites including The Mighty Bosstones, Ace of Base, Oasis, and Tori Amos.
But it’s still definitely worth your time.
“Everything Sucks!” is like “Freaks and Geeks” meets “My So-Called Life,” but with actual teens playing teens. The very well-cast teens on this show are in the A/V club and the drama club at a high school in Boring, Oregon (a real town, where the series filmed). Despite their differences, the two clubs make a sci-fi movie together, directed by Luke (Jahi Di’Allo Winston).
In the meantime, the show’s female protagonist, Kate Messner (Peyton Kennedy), is struggling with her sexuality: She thinks she’s lesbian. The 90s setting, though at times a little heavy-handed, tells a story that would’ve never made it to television in the actual 90s.
You should binge-watch “Everything Sucks!” this weekend. It’s not the best Netflix original series to date, especially since it takes some time to find its voice. But the excellent final episodes will leave you wanting more.
Here’s why you should binge-watch “Everything Sucks!” on Netflix. Warning, mild spoilers:
All 10 episodes are under 30 minutes long.
With no time to let things linger, the shortened episode length helps the show keep things moving forward quickly. The shortest episodes of “Everything Sucks!”are 22 minutes, and its longest is the 27-minute season finale.
Like Netflix’s critical hit “The End of the F—ing World,” the show proves that a lot of story can be told in a shorter period of time. For shows like these, it’s a huge advantage.
All those short episodes do add up, but it’s worth investing your time. It’s better than “Altered Carbon.”
It’s a messy mix of slapstick comedy, teenage romance, and family drama. And that’s the point.
The show is uneven, but that’s the point. The lack of balance between the slapstick comedy and the tear-jerking drama captures exactly what being a teenager (and a person) is like.
It takes a few episodes for the show to get really good, but the final episodes are worth waiting for.
The show starts by banging the 90s thing over your head like, say, a snap bracelet.
But once the story gets deeper into its characters, the references feel more organic and earned. In one of the show’s best episodes, the teens take a trip to a film location for their movie. On the way, they’re happily singing along to Ace of Base’s “It’s a Beautiful Life” on a bus.
After some drama happens on set, the song plays on the bus on their way back to Boring. But this time no one is sitting together, and no one is singing along. Moments like these feel more earned and truer to the characters than some moments in earlier episodes, which makes a second season more promising.
It’s a sweet and thoughtful depiction of a teenage girl coming to terms with her sexuality.
Although it takes place in the 90s, “Everything Sucks!” is definitely not the kind of show that would have been made back then.
The lead, Peyton Kennedy (as Kate Messner), is a revelation. And the way her character’s journey is written shows that a lot of thought and research went into her arc.
The creators and writers for “Everything Sucks!” clearly saw a gap. In the 90s, gay and lesbian characters weren’t given the spotlight. And if they did make it into a series or a show as side characters, they were usually the butt of every joke, and clear stereotypes. The 1996 setting of “Everything Sucks!” shows the experiences that women like Kate didn’t get to see on television when they were her age.
Kennedy carries the show with her confident performance struggling with her sexuality along with the loss of her mother.
It’s a much deeper show than the trailer and marketing suggests.
Luke, Kate’s sometimes boyfriend, has a complicated journey himself.
Luke’s father left him and his mother when he was younger. Luke’s mom tells him that his dad was a jerk.
But in the first episode, Luke finds some VHS tapes of his father, an aspiring filmmaker, just rambling to the camera. Throughout the season he watches them in secret, and begins to think that maybe his dad isn’t a bad guy after all.
The show explores complicated family dynamics, with both of the adult leads being single parents. It shows the effect it has on them, and on their kids.
A storyline between parents of the teenagers is, unlike most 90s shows, not boring.
Kate and Luke’s parents, Ken (Patch Darragh) and Sherry (Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako), have a budding romance that parallels their kids’ relationship.
Except their kids are the ones dealing with the most adult issues, while Ken and Sherry smoke weed and TP a house.
Ken, a dorky principal who lost his wife and is struggling as a single father, finds happiness with Sherry for the first time in years. Sherry, who is skeptical of Ken at first, to the point where you think it will go nowhere for poor Ken, feels the same way.
Most teen shows struggle with the parent plot lines. The parents are either one dimensional, or very complicated characters involved in boring storylines. But Ken and Sherry’s romance is one of the most charming and unexpected in the show, and makes it unique.
It turns one of the worst songs to come out of the 90s into the show’s best moment.
“Breakfast At Tiffany’s” is a bad song. It’s so bad that it’s good, but the lyrics don’t make sense and, two decades later, it’s not a song that anyone is inspired by at all. Until now.
In an episode toward the end of the season – when the show finally finds its voice – Ken Messner, the principal and Kate’s dad, unpacks groceries while singing and dancing along to Deep Blue Something’s “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.”
It makes sense that this character connects so deeply to this stupid song. And while it’s meant to be a joke, it’s one of the show’s best earned 90s references, and a moment that will stick with you. It might even change the way you feel about the song.
Watch the trailer for “Everything Sucks!” below: