This Show Doesn’t Suck

Courtesy: Netflix

Everything Sucks! (2018)
Starring: Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Peyton Kennedy, Patch Darragh, Claudi Nako, Rio Mangini, Quinn Liebling, Sydney Sweeney, and Elijah Stevenson
Created By: Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan
Network: Available on Netflix
Rated: TV-14
My Rating: ****/5

Since Netflix began producing original content for digital streaming, there have been many shows that produce content for genre niches many conventional platforms don’t even know exist. While there have been many series that cater to desires for offbeat comedy and nostalgia for the 1990s, one series in particular is emerging as a potential cult favorite that combines both elements: “Everything Sucks!”

Taking place in the small town of Boring, Oregon in 1996; the series follows the exploits of a group of high school students dealing with not only the changes their minds and bodies are going through; but also the ensuing hilarity of mishaps in the A/V club.

The result is a unique blend of comedy and drama that; while not perfect, presents a scenario that could help the series do for the 1990s what the cult classic “Freaks and Geeks” did for the 1980s. The episodes are rife with 1990s music and pop-culture references, painting a picture that blends earnesty and cynicism that would make its title accurate to its tone; but thankfully not the quality of the series itself.

The period details of the series have a lot of effort put into them, with very few anachronisms. Notably, the first episode opens with “The Impression that I Get” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, which didn’t chart until a year after the series is set. Characters routinely dress in outfits that may seem over-the-top to younger generations, but really do show how some high schoolers actually did model their looks on anyone from Kurt Cobain to Jubilee of the “X-men” franchise. The VHS home movies that the characters work on for the A/V club are easily the precursors to awkward videos on YouTube and other streaming sites.

One thing to know before watching this series: if you are easily weirded out by awkward situations, then it probably isn’t for you. While the series thrives on nostalgia for the time it’s set in, it also doesn’t pull any punches in showing how the decade had its flaws. It’s not the over-optimism displayed by “The Wonder Years,” but it definitely does a better job at realistically portraying the changes of high schoolers than “Big Mouth.”

While it remains to be seen how the series will do in the long-term, it’s clear that even with a title that suggests “Everything Sucks,” the show thankfully does not. Even if it doesn’t quite reach the same level of nostalgia and witty humor that defined “Freaks and Geeks,” it’s easily the antithesis to more conventional series such as “The Wonder Years” and is definitely worth watching. The era of videotape and dial-up modems may be long gone, but Netflix has produced a great way to relive it with “all that and a bag of chips.”



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