Maybe You’re Gonna Be the One That Saves Me
All That and a Bag of Chips
Romeo & Juliet in Space
What the Hell’s a Zarginda?
Sometimes I Hear My Voice
Cheesecake to a Fat Man
I Just Wanna Be Anybody
My Friends Have Been Eaten by Spiders
We Were Merely Freshmen
On the surface, Everything Sucks! looks like a generic teen comedy tapping into 90s nostalgia and teenage anger to drive a paper-thin plot forward. Although there is a good dose of nostalgia here with VHS tapes, clunky cameras and denim galore, its toned back to allow this character-driven high school comedy/drama the room it needs to shine. Although Everything Sucks! does take a while to settle into a consistent rhythm, during which time some of the acting is a little wooden and shaky, the cliffhanger ending leaves plot threads unresolved and most of the supporting cast struggle to have the same impact Kate (Peyton Kennedy) and Luke (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) do in their coming of age stories. Despite these issues, Everything Sucks! is a charming and enjoyable drama series that will hopefully iron out its issues if Netflix green light a second season.
The plot follows a group of realistically written kids in a small town called Boring as they struggle with the highs and lows of school life. After suffering from relentless bullying at the hands of the members of drama club, AV club member Luke strikes a deal with the group, agreeing to collaborate to make a low-budget movie. Once this plot takes off, Everything Sucks! slowly transitions from a comedy to a drama and the show is all the stronger for it. Kate’s storyline around her sexuality is far and away the most fleshed out and alongside Luke the two characters dominate the screen time and have the best character work. Although there is some progression for the bulk of the supporting cast late on, the first few episodes give the minor characters a caricature feel that detracts from warming to them right away. Ironically, Kate’s dorky Dad and Principal Ken (Patch Darragh) and Luke’s mum Sherry (Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako) are the only other two characters to have the most consistent and well written characterisation to work with.
Still, despite the wooden acting that plagues parts of the show, Everything Sucks! deserve credit for managing to portray high school students navigating their way through puberty in a realistic way. The 90s charged soundtrack helps too, packing some nostalgic tunes including Oasis and The Cardigans throughout. As the series progresses, so to do many of the characters and when Everything Sucks! strikes the right balance between comedy and drama, the show really does come into its own. Important themes around friendship, heartbreak, love and sexuality are explored throughout, some in more mature and surprising ways that you might expect. For a show labelling itself as a comedy, Everything Sucks! certainly has more in common with a drama than anything else.
Everything Sucks! does have its issues that hold it back from being a great show but there’s enough here to like. There’s some good character work, decent plotting and an endearing nostalgic 90s charm that isn’t force-fed or overdone through the 10 episodes. With a second season teased thanks to a cliffhanger ending, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of audience this charming drama/comedy gains, especially given the awkwardness of the acting and disappointing story lines for some of the supporting cast. If you can persevere with this one and get past the awkward first few episodes there’s a fun and entertaining show waiting to be discovered but there’s also a feeling that Everything Sucks! isn’t quite living up to its true potential.
Verdict - 6.5/10