SPOILERS to follow for season 1 of Everything Sucks! Check out my Non-Spoiler Review if you have not yet seen the season and don’t want to be spoiled.
If you took all of the supernatural elements out of Stranger Things and move the setting from the 80s to 90s you’d have a coming-of-age story about as sweet and innocent and entertaining as this one. I loved almost every element of the show from beginning to end including the total runtime of about 3 and a half hours making it a very easy watch in one sitting. I did do a regular review for the season but I loved it so much there are a few things I wanted to go a little further into that I couldn’t previously do without spoiling things. So lets get underway.
I want to talk about the quirkiness of the show first and foremost and how it leads to some great moments but also the one element I just didn’t like. The show takes some slight departures from how things would happen in reality and over-exaggerates certain stereotypes for some quirky humour. In most cases this works really well, for example, late in the season the ranger is about to shut down Luke’s (Jahi Di’allo Winston) filming for not having a permit but then it appears they offer her a role as an alien and she just ditches her job, paints her face blue and all is good. I also loved the quirky relationship between Scott Pocket (Connor Muhl) and Jessica Betts (Nicole McCullough) on the school’s morning show, rumour has it they grow up rapidly to be the commentators from the Pitch Perfect films as they share a similar dynamic. But the way the drama club is represented in the first half of the season I just wasn’t a huge fan of. They really did seem a little too extreme and out there for this show and they just weren’t working for me. Whether they’re bursting out into poetry in the cafeteria or furiously covering Luke and co. in makeup it was all just too much. But the way the story takes these characters over the rest of the season, specifically Oliver (Elijah Stevenson) and Emaline (Sydney Sweeney), I absolutely fucking loved, to the point where Emaline went from being an “eh” character to in my top two or three.
For the first half of the season the characters of Oliver and Emaline never really change, they both show brief signs of having a more complex personality and some hidden kindness but as they are a tightly knit duo they are holding each-other back from developing beyond being the “bullies” of this high school story. So in order for either of them to grow as a character one of them needed to leave and that ended up being Oliver around 3/4 of the way into the season. His character’s arc was more or less done and so his very 80’s/90’s red bandana wearing exit was understandable timing-wise and it allowed for Emaline to evolve into one of my top two characters. From this point she goes through some lovely changes where with the help of Kate (Peyton Kennedy) she comes to the realisation of who she really is and this then sparks the best relationship of the season. Despite Kate’s own story of embracing who she really is being at the forefront of the season, Emaline I feel has the most drastic of changes with a switch-up that is both surprising but very fitting within her character.
I grew to love both of these characters (Emaline and Kate) so much that when they get together in the last episode I was literally on the edge of my seat. In the absolutely beautiful scene where they are about to kiss I was so invested that I was audibly praying for McQuaid (Rio Mangini) to not barge through the auditorium doors and ruin such a beautiful moment for them. When this relationship as well as Kate’s relationship with Luke is at the forefront that is when I was the most invested in the story.
I just want to touch on episode 4 a little more because it’s where the series takes a very noticeable dip and it doesn’t work as well as every other episode. One of the problems with it is that in every other episode of the season the characters are constantly moving and changing whether that be in terms of location or character. There’s a relatively quickly moving pace associated with each episode however for most of episode 4 we spend our time with both the drama club and A/V club in the auditorium, and the significant drop in pace is noticeable and quite jarring. However this is the episode that kicks off the filmmaking plot that lasts through to the final episode so it is significant in that respect. This is also the episode in which Sherry (Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako) and Ken’s (Patch Darragh) relationship begins, but where it isn’t quite a “relationship” just yet I still can’t stop thinking about how weird the situation is. I mean, as an audience we know that at this point Luke and Kate’s relationship isn’t going to last long so soon their parents going out with each other won’t be totally weird. But both Sherry and Ken are aware their kids are dating each-other yet they still get together….. The weirdness goes away by the end but I mean it was definitely hard to shake early on.
As far as the conclusions to the characters’ arcs are concerned almost everyone appears to get their happy ending. I say almost because there’s three characters who unfortunately drew the short straw in the end. Two of those characters are Luke’s two friends McQuaid and Tyler (Quinn Liebling) who have interesting roles in the season. For the majority of the episodes these two are Luke’s sidekicks, they don’t really have a subplot of their own and simply deliver some comedic moments here and there. But in the final couple of episodes McQuaid gets a short arc involving a possible relationship with Emaline and Tyler has to deal with the realisation that he’s losing his friends to girls. None of these short arcs end well as McQuaid walks in on Emaline kissing Kate and gets his heart broken for the first time and Tyler ends up all alone as he believes his only two friends have ditched him for girls and he has no-one. But completely unbeknownst to him the other nerdy A/V club girl Leslie (Abi Brittle) is interested in him. She is the third character who doesn’t get a happy ending as despite her best efforts Tyler is oblivious to the fact that she likes him and so she is also left all alone in the end.
Now on to the ending which very shockingly and to my surprise ends with a cliffhanger that I’m not sure this season called for. I mean, yes those three minor story arcs I mentioned above weren’t entirely resolved but everything else, including the relationship between Luke and his dad I feel concluded in a very satisfying manner. So I don’t quite understand the purpose of having Luke’s dad show up at the end right as everything is done and everyone is happy other than hinting at a potential season 2. Now I am in two minds about this, when I finished the final episode I immediately didn’t love the move as I didn’t think that with the way certain stories are resolved that there was room for a second season with these characters. It’s always a possibility but I didn’t think there was anywhere for the story to go naturally. But now that I’ve had time to think about it and absorb all of the information I have an inkling of an idea for maybe where a season 2 could go.
And that has to do with the fact that the school students still don’t know that Kate and Emaline are gay, only Luke and McQuaid know and McQuaid just got his heart broken for the first time. So I believe that through McQuaid this news could possibly slip out and this could then be a great way to keep exploring some of the similar topical themes from this season but in greater depth. It would also put the characters in more conflicting situations making for more dramatic and emotional content. But part of me doesn’t want this to happen as I love the idea of Kate and Emaline living happily ever after. As for what may go down with Luke’s dad showing up at the end…… I have no idea but I suspect nothing good. So that’s my spoiler review for season 1 of Everything Sucks! if you want to see my score for the season be sure to check out my non-spoiler review for that.