The latest coming-of-age series from Netflix combines two of the streaming service’s best. I am Not Okay with This is actually produced and directed by Jonathan Entwistle, who also gave us The End of the F***ing World, and similarly adapted from a comic book by Charles Forsman. The new series is also executive produced by Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen, who oversee Stranger Things.
“I’d love for it to be like the ugly sister to Stranger Things,” Entwistle told journalists on a set visit for I Am Not Okay with This (via Bustle). Both involve a telekinetic teenage girl and they share actors from IT, but otherwise, they’re pretty different. Still, if I curated lists of TV series to watch after…, then it’d be an obvious choice. I’d probably slip in Out of This World just for fun, too. But I only recommend movies to watch after…
This edition of Movies to Watch After… recognizes the direct and indirect cinematic roots of I Am Not Okay with This as I recommend fans go back and learn some film history, become more well-rounded viewers, and enjoy likeminded works of the past, even if it’s the fairly recent past. As always, I try to point you in the easiest direction of where to find each of these highlighted titles.
The first installment of Andy Muschietti’s two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980s novel IT broke out the two young stars of I Am Not Okay with This, Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff. They also previously reunited for IT: Chapter Two and the extended music video for Sia’s “Santa’s Coming for Us.” Lillis and Oleff have become very close friends since meeting on the set of this movie, and that relationship supposedly led to Oleff’s casting.
Maybe Oleff is just typecast as boys named Stanley since that’s also his name in IT. Or, maybe child actors from IT are the best choice for characters who learn their friend is a superhero and then get a bunch of comic books to research the matter and help them test their new powers. After all, that was also the case with Shazam! (also recommended), which co-stars fellow “Losers Club” member from IT Jack Dylan Grazer.
I almost just included Shazam! officially on this list because I wanted to feature at least one superhero movie. Chronicle was another possibility. But I wanted the movie to be about a female character, preferably one in her teens. Most major puberty-metaphor superheroes are male, like Spider-Man (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was another idea) and Harry Potter, while young women wind up being more the subject of supernatural-rage horror stories, a la Firestarter and Carrie.
Frozen isn’t that different, as its super-powered character exposes her abilities to the world during anger and nearly kills someone then flees the scene. At one point, she was nearly a more concrete Disney villain as a result. But like Sidney in I Am Not Okay with This, she’s not really a bad person, just someone who doesn’t understand or now how to control her powers. I know it’s silly to recommend Frozen as the superhero example, but the “best” alternative is a Jean Grey focused X-Men movie, but both X-Men: The Last Stand and Dark Phoenix are unworthy.
Human Beings (2012)
Between The End of the F***ing World and I Am Not Okay with This, Jonathan Entwistle has shown a distinct style and interest that makes his eventual feature directorial debut easy to imagine. He’s actually been tapped to make that mark with a new reboot of Power Rangers. Because I enjoyed the last Power Rangers movie, I’d love to see him work with those same actors for a sequel instead, but either way I’m curious about his take.
While he’s never directed a feature, Entwistle made a number of shorts, as well as commercials and music videos, prior to breaking out with his first Forsman adaptation. Human Beings is the last of the shorts, an award-winning teen movie that feels like an antecedent of I Am Not Okay with This with its jock bully boyfriend (played by Emma. co-star Callum Turner in a very early role) and its big deal high school party and its cool music cues. Maybe next season can put all the characters in animal costumes, too, since that’s the main visual intrigue of the film.
Secrets of the Psychics (1993)
For the documentary pick for this edition of Movies to Watch After.., I’d love to recommend a film about real life superheroes, but the kind with actual superpowers not just the true costumed vigilantes and community guardian angels. Unfortunately, telekinesis isn’t real, and we’ve got James Randi, aka The Amazing Randi, to thank for confirming this fact. He’s a former magician who became an expert in debunking supposed psychics, healers, and others purporting to have supernatural or paranormal abilities.
Telekinesis is one of the alleged psychic powers that Randi exposes as fraud in the Nova episode Secrets of the Psychics. Among those he investigates are telepathic psychics, but he’s also famous for going after the telekinetics, people who bend spoons and keys and move objects “with their minds.” Think of him as the man following Sydney around in I Am Not Okay with This, since if a true story, Randi would be coming after her to prove her to be a fake. Also recommended is the more recent biographical feature documentary about Randi, An Honest Liar.
Buy Nova: Secrets of the Psychics on VHS from Amazon (or just easily find it streaming unofficially online)