Everything Sucks does not suck

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Everything Sucks is so much more than a non scary Stranger Things. It is an ode not only to the nineties, but also to youth, confusion, and the creativity that will save your kiester in a pinch.

Everything Sucks follows the stories of Luke, played by Jahi Di’Allo Winston, and Kate, played by Peyton Kennedy, as well as their parents, as they try to figure out how to handle high school. Luke and his friends are trying to decide which club to join and realize pretty quickly that AV is going to be their thing and it will not make them cool.

Unlike a lot of high school dramas, this comedy shows the theatre students as the cool kids, as the people who hold all the power, however Luke and Kate accidentally offend them – causing Kate pull the fire alarm to get out of kissing Luke because she is actually (not a spoiler) gay, and Luke takes the fall — hijinks ensue. A six pack of Zima is consumed, deals are struck, and with the spring musical cancelled, Luke and his AV friends find themselves pitching a space themed Romeo and Juliet movie on the stage of the school theatre with penises drawn on their faces. When the auditions get started, there is a great montage including one person trying out with a memorized monologue from a skin rash commercial. The set up is entertaining enough without even mentioning that the story is set in the autumn of 1996.

Oasis! Jolt! Tamagotchis! Video diaries! There is even a scene that involves the adults, Luke and Kate’s mom and dad respectively, getting drunk on wine and TP-ing a house to the tune of “Time Bomb”, by Rancid. If you didn’t grow up in the nineties, the cliche of the whole thing might not be apparent.

The show also gives us a heavy dose of nineties fashion, including one character, the lead actress in the cabal of mean theatre kids, Emaline (played by Sydney Sweeney), who appears to have modeled herself after Gwen Stefani back in her No Doubt days. She wears tiny tank tops with an exposed midriff, with dark brown lipstick, her hair in bantu knots and a rhinestone bindi on her forehead. Kate shows off another aspect of nineties fashion with her bone straight hair with the center part reminding me entirely of Taylor Hanson in the Mmmbop days, and her loose mom jeans worn with a t-shirt with a plaid button up over top. The leading man of the theatre kids, Oliver (played by Elijah Stevenson), has a look that reminds me of just about every ‘edgy’ male lead in a nineties movie. He even has the hair.

The drama is all very high school, but in a way that I can get behind. The theatre kids are naturally more dramatic than everyone and it becomes an affectation for them. “Jim Carrey is the most underrated actor of our time,” said Oliver in episode five, “…and he will win an Oscar.”

In addition to the surface drama, Everything Sucks addresses some important issues, including interracial couples (there are three and no one seems to mind), single parenthood, and bullying (the solution to which is leaving Luke’s clear cased landline off the hook so no one can call him).

One of the most important concepts though is Kate’s hidden sexuality. She’s only 14 so she’s just figuring out who she is, but she’s caught staring at Emaline who spreads a rumor that she’s gay. Someone writes “Dyke” on her locker door in permanent marker and a girl who is clearly meant to be her best friend asks her if she’s a “homo.” Kate hears people talking about her while she hides in a bathroom stall, the two other girls in the bathroom are questioning whether being gay means that Kate has AIDS.

It’s not all bad though. Kate and Luke are friends in addition to their hand holding, peck on the cheek boyfriend/girlfriend status. So when they are forced together and put in a situation where kissing is expected (seven minutes in heaven) Kate tells Luke that she’s gay. His reaction is unexpected and refreshing. Instead of freaking out and questioning her womanhood and his own manhood, Luke tries to help Kate figure things out including taking a human sexuality quiz while hiding in the stacks in the library, the only place we nineties kids hung out. When the results are in, Luke seems happy enough to be considered a ‘heterosexual tendency.’

As the story continues, love blossoms in unexpected places and certified nerds find themselves the center of attention. This diverse and entertaining coming of age story leaves the audience with a sense of joy and nostalgia, and is a definite must watch. Catch Everything Sucks on Netflix.

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