The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

High school sucks

Graphic by Kaitlyn Patterson ’20.

Netflix original “Everything Sucks” gets teens right.

“Everything Sucks,” a new Netflix original series, is yet another story about teenagers struggling to navigate school, family and, of course, love.

It sounds like any other coming-of-age tale, but “Everything Sucks” does succeed in taking a new spin on this common theme. While the show may remind some of “Freaks and Geeks” or Netflix’s own “Stranger Things,” the setting and characters make it stand apart from the crowd.

The show takes place in the late 1990s, and that alone gives a unique feel compared to the endless 80s shows out there. From playing with a Tamagotchi to listening to “Wonderwall,” the show will look familiar,  even to those of us who were toddlers when the decade ended.

The opening shot of the first episode is of the high school, which is fittingly named Boring High School. Though it may seem like an exaggerated metaphor, Boring, Oregon is a real place and a perfect setting for show about ordinary high school life.

The west coast setting is interesting, too, as every other comparable show seems to be set in the Midwest, such as “Stranger Things” in Indiana, “Freaks and Geeks” in Michigan and “Glee” in Ohio.

What really makes the series stand out, however, is the characters. It focuses on two students, Luke O’Neil (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) and Kate Messner (Peyton Kennedy). Luke is a freshman who develops a crush on Kate, the principal’s daughter. Both are in the A/V Club, so Luke decides to make a video to play on the high school’s morning news show to ask Kate out. Under the pressure of live television, Kate agrees.

Luke and Kate make fresh leading characters that do not always hold the main positions in a teen series. Luke is half African-American, while Kate is questioning her sexual orientation, and both live with single parents.

In many high school-themed shows and movies, people of color are rarely more than the token sidekick or background character. Luke is mainly surrounded by white people, with the exception of his mother and one other student with a speaking role. However, Luke’s white friends are highly underdeveloped, making for an interesting reversal of roles. The fact  he plays a lead role is drastically different from the norm.

Kate is a strong female character who is independent, stubborn and smart. Although in the beginning she is still trying to figure out how she feels – a quiz that will determine her sexual orientation does not help – Kate is largely confident in herself, and she overcomes the cruelty and misunderstanding of her classmates.

She has a relatively easy time dealing with the little bullying she faces, which is not the reality that most LGTBQ students endure. However, strength and confidence are clearly two of her character strengths, and she will likely experience more hardships as the series continues.

While Luke and Kate’s relationship does not last long for obvious reasons, they build a strong friendship and support each other through their struggles in family life.

Despite these heavy topics, “Everything Sucks” has a fun, absurd humor with over-the-top acting, realistically awkward encounters and the unlikely dynamic between the A/V Club and the Drama Club. What starts out as a rivalry after Kate accidentally destroys the upcoming play’s set turns into a collaboration to create Boring High School’s first ever movie, “Intergalactic Lust.”

The first season is awkward and exaggerated, but it introduced what looks like a ground-breaking take on an overused theme. In an era where nostalgia is a feeling viewers expect from their entertainment, “Everything Sucks” is perfect for college students who will and won’t remember the decade itself.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Hawk News

Your donation will support the student journalists of St. Joseph's University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hawk News

Comments (0)

All The Hawk News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *