Wherever I Look
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TV Series I Am Not Okay with This: Season 1 Episode 1 “Dear Diary…”...

I Am Not Okay with This: Season 1 Episode 1 “Dear Diary…” [Series Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

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After proving herself to be able to carry multiple films, even if they are meh, “I Am Not Okay With This” allows Sophia Lillis to be in her element and kick ass.


Created ByJonathan Entwistle, Christy Hall
Directed ByJonathan Entwistle
Written ByJonathan Entwistle, Christy Hall
Aired (Netflix)2/26/2020
Genre(s)Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Young Adult
Introduced This Episode
SydneySophia Lillis
Maggie (Mom)Kathleen Rose Perkins
DinaSofia Bryant
BradRichard Ellis
StanleyWyatt Oleff
LiamAidan Wojtak-Hissong
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This content contains pertinent spoilers.

“Dear Diary…” Plot Overview

17-year-old Sydney, who paints herself as your run of the mill white girl in a crappy town in Pennsylvania, is going through something. What exactly? Well, maybe she is going through something since her mom and she have a distant relationship, and her dad killed himself? Maybe the issue is her best friend, Dina, her first best friend, is now dating a jock name Brad and she is slowly, but surely, feeling like a third wheel?

OOOOOOO! It could also be this boy, Stanley, who shows interest in Sydney, and she isn’t sure how to react? Or it could very well be Liam, her little brother, still being innocent and sweet and her worry about protecting that so he doesn’t become disenfranchised about life and people like her?

But it also could be puberty? Who knows? The only clear thing is Sydney, since her dad died, the person who she felt got her,  has been getting angry. And when Sydney gets angry, and wants something badly, things happen. Though, also, her trying to pack in emotions into her head lead things to happen too so, overall, it seems she just can’t win.

Review

Highlights

Sophia Lillis

Sydney (Sophia Lillis) getting a bite with her friend Dina.
Sydney (Sophia Lillis)

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A part of me wants to do that whole, “She is the new” and put Natalie Portman at the end of that sentence. However, when it comes to Lillis, it seems unfair to do so strictly because the path she has forged may have her be a “Child” actor, despite starting in her teens, but her persona and choices are far different from Portman.

Take note, Lillis seems drawn to darker roles and whole she, every now and then, does something lighter, like “Nancy Drew,” what she excels in is in dark material like “It” and “Sharp Objects.” I’d even add in “Gretel & Hansel,” which may not have done well at the box office, but through that film, we’re shown Lillis may have that skill, talent, what have you, to shine even if the movie itself may not be considered good. For as noted in “Gretel & Hansel,” Lillis knows how to give her character power in silence. She knows to let a moment take a beat and then react.

Which is all to say, Lillis never forgets she is inhabiting a human being. And while, based off her work that I’ve seen, I won’t say she necessarily has a diverse repertoire, I think we can agree when it comes to being characters who know trauma, a sense of rejection, and yet who continue to find the strength to survive, there might not be a better young actor (who primarily works in English productions, anyway).

The Right Amount Of Weird

With “The End of The F***ing World” being used to promote this, that could push the idea that we’re going to get similar characters. Meaning, the kind of characters who are lovely to some and off-putting to others. However, there is the right tone of weird when it comes to the characters. The extreme is Stanley, who decides to walk barefoot, but otherwise comes off as the slightly awkward boy next door. And on the other end is Dina, whose happy go lucky nature is exhibited in such a way you almost wonder if she is meant to be seen as Sydney’s potential love interest.

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And then, Sydney herself, while she has powers, this is where you can see the “Stranger Things” style come in. For while not precisely like Eleven, you can see the allowance given to have an awkward girl who has a lot to be angry about, yet still finds certain people who allow her to be soft, vulnerable, and put her shield and sword down.

Yet, it is made clear, as strong as she is, there are imperfections. Be it an inability to control her anger, things like zits on her thighs, or just not knowing how to make herself happy. So, there is a reliance on others to do so, thus allowing for the supporting characters to shine. And with watching Sydney feed off their love and what appears to be them enjoying her company, we see her find a means to try to make happiness more than a feeling but state of being.

Overall

Advised For Those Who Like

  1. Young Adult stories
  2. That awkward phase of a person’s teen years
  3. A girl discovering she has powers
  4. Following a loner, a potential social outcast, as they deal with the trauma in their life

Continue To Watch? – Binge Watch

First Impression: Optimistic

Sydney hanging out in a bathroom stall.
Sydney: Anyway, here’s to a normal high school experience.

What we enjoy about “I Am Not Okay With This” is that there isn’t this pursuit to necessarily be anything it doesn’t have to be or what others want it to be. Is there a vibe that could easily be associated with “The End of the F***ing World” and “Stranger Things” there? Yes. However, despite those both being hits for Netflix, “I Am Not Okay With This,” just in its title, pushes the idea that while the marketing might be about those name catching shows, this one wants the space and opportunity to be its own thing.

Which, for us, is shown by having someone like Lillis lead, and the writing tap into her ability to give a more subtle performance. One that speaks on a person’s inner strength and doesn’t require much in the way of theatrics and grandeur gestures. It is about a person’s thoughts, feelings, the teen years, and being unable to control your environment and, often, feeling unable to control your thoughts, and dealing with the frustration of that.

Yet, you have to venture out into the real world and find a way to manage that. You have to find a way to make other people comfortable while not making yourself small and trying to squeeze all you are to the point of bursting open. But, as shown, Sydney is coming to the point of blowing up, and with each showing of her power, we’re seeing cracks, and we’re very optimistic in the show not pursuing her powers as a form of setting her up to be some hero, but rather show the energy that exists behind anger, and so many other powerful emotions, and what would happen if they could physically manifest.

 

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Amari Allahhttps://wherever-i-look.com
I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and from movies, TV, the occasional book, play, and Broadway show, have been trying to bridge the gap between a critic and an avid lover of various forms of media.

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Review Summary

Rating Breakdown

The Right Amount Of Weird
85 %
Sophia Lillis
90 %

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