As if we didn’t have enough coming-of-age shows, Netflix keeps serving them up faster than you can say “teen angst.” No, really, this is a genre that has been capitalized on since time immemorial, but recently, it’s really getting out of hand. As is common with angsty teenagery things, most of these shows are based on trends and what’s big in the world at the moment. Everything Now feels like an amalgamation of all things good about Euphoria, Sex Education, and Heartbreak High. Everything Now is aptly titled because it really does engage nicely with everything that is “now.” I thought it was fantastic that we got Bottoms this year, written by talented young people, but here we have a 22-year-old who has already learned the ropes perfectly well. Taking notes from popular shows of the present and the past, Ripley Parker delightfully creates a real-world feeling in her queer and dear show. Before I get into the show itself, I just want to say that Sophie Wilde deserves all the awards immediately. She’s hit it out of the park this year, especially playing “Mias” with her performances in both Talk To Me and now Everything Now. Before you move further in this review, here’s your trigger warning for eating disorders.
The show follows Mia, a 16-year-old anorexic girl who has just returned from a seven-month stint at a recovery clinic. Right out of treatment, Mia wants to try everything she’s missed out on in the past few months because she feels like her friends have moved much faster in her absence. It’s no biggie; they’re just all ahead of her in terms of drinking, doing drugs, losing their V-cards, and other basic things teens are expected to do. The main focus for Mia now is to scratch things off her basic bucket list. Of course, Mia needs her friends by her side on this journey to redefine herself, but on the way, she feels lonely and like she’s missed out on too much.
Sophia Wilde as Mia (not the possessed one, although these adjectives apply to her too) is an enigma to watch. Her expressions are enough to understand the myriad feelings Mia is going through at once. She’s vulnerable and stoic at the same time, trying hard to keep it all together. The show rides on her capabilities as a fantastic protagonist. At first, I felt she was one of those unlikeable protagonists we often see on TV today, but Mia isn’t annoying because of her personality; it’s her illness that fails her. Although most of the show plays out as a regular teen drama, the real good stuff comes after episode 6. I don’t mean that the first five episodes are bad; they’re just, well, basic. On the other hand, episode 6 is when things really hit hard, and you might need some tissues thereafter.
The show manages to portray Mia’s illness with respect and dignity. What stands out about the show is Mia’s inner voice, which essentially tells her what to do and not do and then calls her out for being unsociable. The show is very self-aware, and a lot of the jokes play off really well because of their smooth timing. The show doesn’t necessarily explore gender identity, but you could say it does a good job at representation. Although the focus is solely on Mia, we get some interesting storylines on the side as well. What’s admirable is how the show doesn’t glamorize the eating disorder but gives it a dark light, showing people how much damage it can do (unlike that one show about drugs everyone loves talking about). Everything Now never derails itself; it has a focus, and even with all the romantic endeavors of teens, their sexual conquests, and their indulgence in activities that may not be right for them, it stays on track, bringing us back to Mia always. Additionally, the show delves into the prejudices towards anorexia, which is looked at as a disorder for people who want to be pretty. Nothing in Mia is screaming for her to be pretty as much as it’s screaming for her to be invisible.
Although there’s a big part for friends in Mia’s life, there’s equal importance to her family. Specifically, it is the relationship between her and the brother (that 6th episode really got to me) that really sparked something inside me for this show. Yes, Gia, too, is a big part of Rue’s support, and I can’t help but pull some comparisons between Everything Now and Euphoria, but we might as well consider them coincidences at this point. What Euphoria fails at is actually delivering its message, and as hard as Zendaya and the rest of the cast try to do that, the over-stylization of the show really changes a viewer’s opinions of it. It doesn’t matter if Everything Now came second; it did it better.
The “Teen Experience” is unique, and a lot of the time, a lot of these shows forget that completely. Maybe it’s a breath of fresh air that 50-year-old women are not projecting their girlhood fantasies on this protagonist or that adult men aren’t trying to write teen slang and pushing random adult ideas on these younglings without any idea of what they’re doing. There are flaws in Everything Now, making it feel like a learning curve for the better for teen drama. It does seem like the makers are aiming for another season with the way things ended, although it’s good enough as a stand-alone as well. With these kinds of shows, a sequel can either be fantastic or really ruin the charm of the show completely.
Tropes and cliches will always be a big part of teen shows, and that’s what makes them fun and entertaining. Everything Now isn’t some intellectual masterclass or a show for those who like to critique their viewing lists thoroughly. It’s a show for young people, made by (mostly) young people, that will resonate with most teens today. It’s a simple but effective plot that, frankly, people should watch. If you’re looking to fill that eggplant-sized hole in your heart left by Sex Education last week, give this one a go, and you will not be disappointed. A reminder, though, to check trigger warnings before watching the show, even though Netflix very kindly puts them up before each episode and a helpline at the end of each episode. I give Everything Now four out of five stars because it delivers what it promises in its eight episodes.