I’m a sucker for TV or Film that attempts to accurately capture teen angst. I’m not sure what it is about the particular emotion, but when it’s presented well on screen it can take the viewer to a special place of nostalgia that is a truly unique experience. Everything Sucks! does exactly that.
At first, Everything Sucks! seeks to reestablish the caste system that incoming high school freshmen, Luke (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), McQuaid (Rio Mangini), Kate (Peyton Kennedy), and Tyler (Quinn Liebling) have to quickly understand and navigate in order survive their next four years. Their answer to this dilemma is to join the AV Club hoping to fit in and fly under the radar with the upperclassmen. This quickly spirals out of control into an all-out declaration of war between the AV Club and the Drama Club that is remedied in a very cool way by season’s end. While this is the overarching story of the season, where Everything Sucks! truly succeeds is through the development and maturation of the show’s individual characters.
Throughout the show’s ten episodes, we are able to see the main characters encounter and endure some very personal and real stories of self-discovery that will surely resonate strongly with children of the 90s. Their individual narratives are approached with a very serious nature and are mostly left unresolved as the show comes to a close which is something that supported the realistic nature of their problems. Even as kids you are still trying to grow and become a better version of yourself to which the show captures incredibly well.
And while the kids are the centerpiece of the show, the adults were much more interesting. Luke’s mother, Sherry (Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako), the AV Club teacher, Mr. Stargrove (Ben York Jones) and especially, Principal Messner (Patch Darragh), who also happens to be Kate’s father. Their storylines are well-written and offer a nice reprieve from the aforementioned teen angst while still creating emotional growth and development along the way. Principal Messner stands out the most for one simple scene involving him, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and a song/dance routine in his house that was not only hilarious to watch. It also gave me a glimpse of my future as a father…and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
Where the show does wear slightly thin at times is in its overuse of melodrama among the freshman. While yes, there’s an overabundance of drama between freshman kids in high school, some of the episodes tend to lean too heavily on the back and forth and uncertainty between characters while ignoring some of its stronger narratives.
It also felt at times that as the season was winding down there were conflicts created out of nothing only to be quickly resolved in either that same episode or shortly in the next. This stuck out because of the short order of episodes and the very small window to tell many stories well felt compromised due to the choice of making room for these smaller conflicts sprinkled throughout. The good news is that these were never in jeopardy of hurting the overall show and were minor occurrences, but they were still noticeable and possibly avoidable.
Everything Sucks! doesn’t break any new ground narratively speaking or isn’t anything you haven’t seen already attempted before but its strength is its uncanny ability to accurately tap into a sense of nostalgia for simpler times and use that as a springboard for characters entering a very uncertain phase in life that we could easily identify with. It manages to accomplish this across ten very short and binge-friendly episodes that can be completed in less than a day. Its characters are incredibly strong and grow from beginning to the end of the first season and while for many shows that can be enough,
Everything Sucks! manages to elevate itself to an even better place by boasting an incredible soundtrack that coincides with specific moments throughout the show flawlessly. It’s a show that I will be making sure to recommend to others in search of an easy watch on Netflix and I am already anticipating a second season that will hopefully continue the trials and tribulations of high school in the nineties.