Everything Sucks! is designed to remind everyone of their time in high school and how awful everything about it was. The creators, Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan, have produced a relatable and quirky rendition of the high school coming-of-age story set in the ‘90s. It’s reminiscent of Richard Donner’s Goonies — kids dealing with growing up. Though, whereas Goonies is of its time and produces nostalgia upon watching it today, Everything Sucks! is a collage of nostalgic imagery in television form.
The overall effect can be heavy-handed. The setting is set specifically in high school during the mid-’90s, and the producers make that blatantly clear. It’s filled to the brim with the pop culture of the decade. There are so many moments that could have been screenshot with the meme caption “only ’90s kids remember this.” There are countless minor details: Troll dolls, Blockbuster Video, old Gatorade logos, VHS tapes, hacky sack, Star Wars, Surge. Add to that a soundtrack full of ’90s hits — including The Verge’s “Freshmen,” Oasis’s “Wonderwall,” and Deep Blue Something’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” — and you’ve captured the essence of the time period.
The script brings the ’90s forward with slang such as “all that and a bag of chips,” “capiche,” “exsqueeze me,” and “oh snap.” The dialogue not only does a great job of recreating the ’90s but also of depicting the vagueness of teenagers in high school. Students speak like students. It may seem like a slight detail but that subtle realism enhances the show’s relevance.
The cast is well-chosen and age-appropriate. It’s refreshing to see 14-year-olds played by 14-year-olds, and 18-year-olds played by 18-year-olds instead of adults. Jahi Di’Allo Winston, as series lead Luke O’Neil, and Peyton Kennedy, as his love interest (and closet lesbian, and principal’s daughter) Kate Messner, are awkward, adorable, and relatable. However, they aren’t the only ones completing the high school experience. All the actors portray the personalities and ticks of their character well, from Rio Mangini’s painful but effortless awkward McQuaid to Sydney Sweeney’s drama queen Emmaline. These are high school personalities that never come across as condescending or cynical.
You could argue that the series is overly optimistic about high school and home life. The series brought to light several circumstances that not many coming of age stories do. These issues include belonging to the LGBTQ community, dating as a single parent, and dating in general. Life isn’t easy and it’s never straightforward. And Everything Sucks! portrays all these circumstances as sticky and confusing. In life, everything does suck at times. But this series is trying to show that life is also so much more than that.
Airing in 2018, this show only aired for a single season before being cancelled. The reason being that although the audience was passionate, there weren’t enough of them. Many people were turned off before the first episode ended and, well, turned it off.
I was one of the few anticipating season two, waiting on the edge of my slightly broken recliner. Everything Sucks! set itself up to continue the story with foreboding metaphors, and cliffhangers for nearly every character. The cancellation leaves more than a few ‘what ifs.’
For those that have watched (or will watch) Everything Sucks!, what do you think would have happened in a hypothetical second series?