'I Am Not Okay With This': How angsty teen Sydney Novak is similar to Eleven from 'Stranger Things'

Like Eleven, Sydney too has temper issues and is not aware of the might of her power


                            'I Am Not Okay With This': How angsty teen Sydney Novak is similar to Eleven from 'Stranger Things'
Sophia Lillis as Sydney and Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven (Netflix)

Intense anger, teen troubles, and telekinetic superpowers — what does that remind you of? Eleven from 'Stranger Things', right? But, wait! There's another girl on the block who seems to be giving her major competition in Netflix's new show 'I Am Not Okay With This'.

Played by Sophia Lillis, Sydney Novac is a self-confessed "boring 17-year-old white girl" from the rural outskirts of Pittsburgh. Adapted from the graphic novel by Charles Forsman, the show chalks out her struggle as she navigates high school awkwardness, family drama and an unrequited crush on her best friend. 

Like Eleven, Sydney too has temper issues and is not aware of the might of her powers. While Eleven's nose bleeds when she gets really angry, Sydney makes Bradley Lewis' (Richard Ellis) nose bleed when her best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant) — who is also her secret crush — hooks up with him. Both are dealing with a tragic loss in their lives, are surrounded by a group of friends and are exploring their sexuality. 

Sophia Lillis as Sydney Novak (Netflix)

In fact, co-creator Jonathan Entwistle himself confessed, “I’d love for it to be like the ugly sister to 'Stranger Things'.”

What's more, Lillis said in a Vogue interview, "Essentially, it's about a high schooler trying to overcome the usual hurdles, juggling problems at school and at home," she said. "Then, she figures out that she has superpowers, which reveal themselves when she gets emotional or angry. She's pretty angsty so it's really not a good mix." Doesn't that essentially translate to Eleven's character?

The actor also added, "[Sydney] thinks of herself as almost dysfunctional, but in reality, she's dealing with it all rather well. She is overwhelmed by her problems, so she shuts down and is in denial for most of the series. She's also very awkward, which makes her relatable. You can see she's trying to do her best, trying to control her emotions, trying to live a normal life, but not everything goes her way."

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven (Netflix)

Comparing the two shows, Lillis said in another interview, “Though 'Stranger Things' is supernatural in a way that 'I Am Not Okay With This' is also, it’s kind of cut off from that [genre] … It’s its own category, I think. Because it kind of has this timelessness to it. It’s not really period-esque.” 

To put things straight, it is Entwistle's explanation that wins the day. “It was just making a more irreverent 'Stranger Things' and a slightly more sanitized 'End of the F***ing World'. To meet them in the middle with superpowers.” He added, “There are similar people in the world, and there’s a lot of fun to be had with that. It makes I Am Not Okay With This stand out as a janky indie version of superpowers.”

No matter where the comparisons stand, the show is a fun watch if you are looking for another coming-of-age story melded with supernatural elements.  

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