by Kate Graham
All I knew about Netflix’s Everything Sucks going in was that it contained a hefty dose of 90’s nostalgia. And boy does Everything Sucks love the 90’s. Especially its music.
Anything after that was a surprise for me, and I love that, as it’s increasingly harder to walk into a show and not have a good idea of what’s going on. So let me give you the vague review first.
If you love: the 90’s, heart-warming content, sincere storytelling, humor, fun characters with good hearts, adorable actors, and queer stories, then put Everything Sucks at the top of your queue.
Want a little more? Here’s the basic start:
It takes place in Boring, Oregon, which is, this is true, a sister city to Dull, Scotland. World’s cutest high school freshman, Luke O’Neill, develops a crush on the principal’s daughter: Kate Messner, and he pursues her with the help of his mad A/V skills.
Now let’s get into **spoilers!**
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Turns out that Kate’s a lesbian, and navigating this, and her friendship with Luke forms the backbone of the first season. Both Luke and Kate are a breath of fresh air in the high school dramedy scene in just how realistic they both are, as well as the fact that Luke is a nerdy black boy and Kate is unapologetically gay.
Luke, Kate, and Luke’s friends Tyler and McQuaid team up with drama king and queen Oliver and Emaline to produce Romeo and Juliet in space. Which is exactly as amazing as it sounds. Kate’s dweeby sweetheart of a father, Mr. Messner, gets closer to Luke’s mother, Ms. O’Neill, and Luke, aspiring director, deals with the fact that his father abandoned him so many years ago to chase a Hollywood dream.
When it comes to the supporting cast, there’s so much to love. Like the fact that Tyler is a nerd who has trouble in school. Yes, that’s right, not all nerds are super smart! Leslie, Kate’s sort-of-friend, is an especially realistic kind of awkward and judgemental. McQuaid’s confusion about social cues is played with greater depth than is most often seen. Kate’s crush, Emaline, is at first a ‘psycho drama chick’, but by the end, I’ll bet you love her almost as much as Kate does.
At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about the nostalgia. It hits you pretty hard up front. But very quickly I found myself singing along to every song. So if you remember jamming out to artists like Oasis, Tori Amos, and Ace of Base, or if you still do, then I’ll meet you at the living room karaoke bar.
And that finale? It made me so happy I was smiling all damn day.
This show is like a glamorized version of my high school years. I had a Luke and an Emaline. I knew a McQuaid and a Leslie. I wore the flannel. I had the dumb posters of guys up in my room until I realized I didn’t give a damn about any of it and tore them down. And yes, my name is Kate. (Though I went by Kat most often back then). It makes it so much more personal than any high school show I’ve ever seen, and so it holds a place in my heart like very little else.
Thank you, Everything Sucks. You’re my wonderwall.
If we get a second season, here’s my wishlist/predictions.
**Bonus Mega Spoilers!**
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Even if Kate’s dad is okay with who she is (if he isn’t at first for some reason, he will be), Emaline’s might not be. I get the sense that Emaline’s family is not particularly supportive or kind given the way that she so desperately needs attention and love.
In season two (should we be so lucky), I want to see them address the fact that Emaline feels the need to tailor herself to her partner. Kate-Emaline is infinitely sweeter than Oliver-Emaline, but she’s still making herself into the person she’s dating. She’s still trying on an identity that she thinks will appeal to a person she needs to love her. Frickin’ cute as that is with Kate, because Kate actually adores her, it’s definitely something that she needs to work through. If that leads us back to Emaline’s home life, I will personally be riveted.
I’m sure Leeroy’s return will be a major storyline. Although it doesn’t grab me initially as a concept, especially since Luke seems to have already dealt with his father issues/rejected his father’s philosophy, I trust that they can do something interesting with it. Perhaps it’ll be much more about Leeroy growing as a person than his son.
They’ve thrown out threads for Leslie’s utter isolation. A potential return of Oliver (hopefully he’ll get his for being such a jerk). Tyler still can’t read. There’s plenty to explore, and if there’s a second season, above all, I hope that they don’t fall into the trap of a lot of second seasons: please introduce new storylines instead of re-treading old ones, let the characters grow and deal with new issues. Past that, give me the same sincerity, lots more lesbian romance, compassionate characters, and an f-ton of 90’s songs, and I’ll stand by you.
And I’ll never desert you. I’ll stand by yoooooouuuuu…
Kathryn Graham is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor and a Fine Writer Of All Things. Learn more about Kate HERE