Everything Sucks! (No Spoilers) Review: Charming and Unexpectedly Sweet

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Nothing about Everything Sucks! follows the title's lead.

My most recent foray into teenage life was with the aptly titled The End of the F***ing World, and though there were subtle hints of redemption for two unbearably dour and lost lead characters, it didn't paint a picture of hope for today's youth.

My expectations for a series in which everything sucks were tempered, and I was prepared to weather the storm of teenage angst with little hope the characters would make it out of the season with all their faculties intact.

Luke and Kate

Instead, Everything Sucks! is a warm and heartfelt look at the other side of teenage life, the kids who support each other through rough times and have enough hope to survive even some of life's most brutal embarrassments.

Everything Sucks! plays like the This Is Us of teen dramedies. The focus is narrow, mainly on two characters and their single parents with peripheral insight into their friends that seems likely to expand with a second season.

Jahi Di'Allo Winston is Luke O'Neil, one of the few African American kids in high school in the 1990s, a subject that is never even considered. While I don't believe school was as color-free as it plays throughout Everything Sucks! it's a nice break to believe that Luke didn't have that burden while attending Boring High.

Bed Jumping

After all, there are a lot of things kids could choose to do in Boring, Oregon given there are so few things to do in Boring, Oregon. "Have a Boring Day," is how the AV kids sign off for their morning news report.

Taking a lot of cues from Judd Apatow's Freaks and Geeks, the story involves not the burners and the geeks, but the AV Club and the Drama Club. Same tale, slightly different freaks.

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Luke and his two friends waste no time involving themselves in the AV Club, and that's where Luke meets Kate Messner, played by Peyton Kennedy. The stars of the show have been discovered.

Kate Messner

While Winston can speak volumes of dialogue without words, Kennedy is poised to become a star with girl-next-door looks and the complexities she's given to play with Kate proving she's ready to act next to the best in the business.

The friendship between Luke and Kate is the crux of the series, and it is through them that the most important events unfold.

Both Kate and Luke are being raised by single parents for different reasons, and their parents play a significant part in their lives, and therefore the series.

Principal Messner

Kate's high school experience is affected by her dad's profession. Ken Messner (Patch Darragh) is the high school principal. Most students consider Kate a hands-off girl, and as a result, she's lonelier than expected.

Raised by his mother, Sherry (Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako) Luke believes in himself. It's with a positive attitude and a lot of confidence that he decides Kate is the girl for him. Whether or not a romance blossoms, his determined nature ensures that where others have failed, the two at least have friendship on the horizon.

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While Everything Sucks! may not deal with race issues, it doesn't shy away from other teenage and topical areas of interest.

Sherry O'Neil

There are threads throughout that deal with everything from bullying, masturbation, discovering one's sexuality, the difficulties of dating (on a very real level), falling in love, falling out of love, trust, social media, and much more.

But while the topics are introduced and covered, they're not done so with darkness, but with light. That might not be everyone's cup of tea, but that's what makes Everything Sucks! not only suspiciously titled, but unique in the current marketplace.

The "foes" at the center of Boring High are thespians McQuaid (Rio Mangini) and Emaline (Sydney Sweeney). When your enemies are thespians, you know things aren't going to get all that dire.

Both on screen and on the high school floor, Mangini and Sweeney have great fun with their roles. It's impossible not to be as enamored with their subtly wicked yet sweet characters as the Boring High students themselves seem to be.

McQuaid and Emaline

And just like the Freaks from Freaks and Geeks, they form a partnership and then a bond with the AV Club that reminds them all that if everything sucks, it sucks for all of them, and they're all in high school together, weathering the same stormy seas.

Everything Sucks! is a refreshing and positive look at high school life. It's not what the era of Peak TV has been drawn to of late, but it's what we need for our hearts and our minds to survive the day-to-day turmoil of life.

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It's sometimes a bit confusing trying to figure out what the show is trying to be, but after watching all ten episodes, my recommendation is to sit back and enjoy the ride. Everything doesn't have to be analyzed and every discussion doesn't have to be tortured.

Everything Sucks! is a great reminder to hold our heads up high and take a chance instead of uttering the very phrase at the core. There is a lot of room for the show to grow, and a cliffhanger that doesn't suck, but provides another bump in the road of the life for the charming characters from Boring, Oregon.

Everything Sucks! drops on Netflix February 16, 2018. Don't miss it!


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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