City on Fire
As an act of nostalgia, City on Fire has plenty to offer anyone who lived or spent lots of time in New York City in the summer of 2003. The new series, created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, evokes the era matter-of-factly. Besides nailing the look of early 21st Century Manhattan, it captures the sense of a city in transition. The groundwork for the gentrification that swept across Manhattan and Brooklyn had just been activated. Mayor Bloomberg was taking what Giuliani had begun and pushing it farther and faster than “America’s Mayor” ever managed. And while the series eventually stomps the theme into the ground, the tendency to wonder if every adverse event was evidence of terrorism was very alive. Continue Reading →
I Am Not Okay with This
Netflix’s latest sci-fi/drama/comedy/thriller features realistic characters, but lifts heavily from “Stranger Things,” “Carrie,” & just about everything else in the same genre.
Say what you will about Netflix’s baffling business model, particularly when it comes to its practice of releasing hundreds of original programs and promoting perhaps 10% of them. It understands winning formulas, however, none so much as teenagers + supernatural powers=a guaranteed fan base. Filling the gap between seasons of Stranger Things and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (though season three of the latter only just premiered last month) is I Am Not Okay With This, yet another comedy/drama/thriller/etc. in which a teenage girl struggles with both burgeoning mystical powers, and the slings and arrows of growing up. Based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel, it brings absolutely nothing new to the table (other than a “Dear Diary” narrative device), but features a believable, complicated, often realistically frustrating protagonist.
Sophia Lillis, late of Gretel & Hansel and the IT movies, is Sydney “Syd” Novak, a lonely high school student given to outbursts of anger ever since her father committed suicide. On top of grieving, a strained relationship with her mother, new responsibilities at home, and acne in unfortunate places, Syd harbors a terrible crush on her best friend, Dina (Sofia Bryant), who is blissfully unaware of her feelings. Much to Syd’s dismay, Dina begins dating not just any jock douchebag, but the biggest douchebag of them all, football player Brad Lewis (Richard Ellis), who can’t get through a class on the reproductive system without making a snide joke.
Insincerity all but oozes from Brad’s pores, but Dina is inexplicably over the moon for him, calling him “babe” and wearing his letterman’s jacket. A heartbroken Syd stares at Brad with hate in her eyes, and it’s only when Brad’s nose spontaneously starts to bleed that she realizes she possesses some sort of telekinetic power beyond her understanding. This power only seems to exhibit itself when Syd is angry, which is unfortunate, because she’s angry just about all the time. Syd is propelled by anger, stomping around her drab little Pennsylvania town and scowling at anyone who isn’t Dina or her younger brother, Liam (Aidan Wojtak-Hissong). She’s a prickly heroine, which is the lifeline I Am Not Okay With This clings to to keep from drowning in cliches. Continue Reading →