And yes, Syd is a short-haired teenager whose emotional state sometimes sends objects hurtling through space. But her story feels far closer in spirit to something like YouTube Premium’s “Impulse,” a show that found its greatest strength in looking at the personal-scale, day-to-day logistics of reckoning with both lived and anticipated trauma.
Part of what helps “I Am Not Okay With This” establish its own emotional framework is the show’s soundtrack. Pulling across genres, music supervisor Nora Felder (who also works on “Stranger Things” and has also overseen some incredible musical moments on FX’s “Better Things”) helps to channel all of Syd’s simmering rage and uncertainty into cues that nestle into the show’s overall fabric, sparingly leaning on the hits.
The rest of Syd’s schoolmates might be the closest that “I Am Not Okay With This” skews toward simple genre shorthand. (You’ll never guess it, but it turns out the football jocks aren’t the nicest people!) However, the closer the show gets to Syd’s inner circle, there’s a greater ease in letting these individuals stand out. Stan threads the needle between friend, impediment, and admirer largely due to how Oleff never lets him feel like a stock character. In the rare moments when Syd, Dina, and Stan get the chance to operate as a group, there’s a glimmer of what the show could be if it moves beyond these first seven chapters.
Even when they’re split apart, “I Am Not Okay With This” exists in a comfortable cross-section of pace and scope that gives Syd’s story the breathing room it needs. Thin at times, but never losing sight of its hook, it avoids many of the pitfalls that its premise could present. By the time this season’s final surprise arrives, the show has set up the audience to care more about who Syd is than what she can do. With stories like this, that’s not always true.