“Our show is like the parts of Stranger Things where they’re hanging out just playing Dungeons and Dragons and there’s no monsters,” says Ben York Jones, co-creator of Everything Sucks!, Netflix’s new 1990s-set teen drama.
Taking place in the small town of Boring, Oregon, during the glorious decade of slap bracelets, Tamagotchis, and words like “coolio,” Everything Sucks! follows a group of freshmen as they embark on high school, embrace their unavoidable awkwardness, and join the A/V club. “These are the invisible kids at the school, the underdogs,” says Jones. “These aren’t the kids from Glee.”
But when they team up with the drama club to make a movie, they no longer slip by under the radar. “We were both eager to tell a coming-of-age story and it ended up splintering into several coming of age stories and we found ourselves with this ensemble of characters that we began to fall in love with,” says Jones. “But to make sure we told the most honest story we could, we had to set it an environment that we lived in and that was the ‘90s.”
Adds Jones: “We really thought about providing a space for everybody; a nice rich tapestry and that extends to the parents.”
And with no Demogorgons in sight, the series invests more time exploring all that glorious teen angst, including 14-year-old Kate (Peyton Kennedy) questioning her sexuality. “At this point, even Ellen DeGeneres hadn’t come out, and this girl’s living in the sticks in Oregon,” says Mohan. “That makes for a very compelling coming-of-age story. Then you have Peyton bringing it to life so beautifully. We’re really fascinated to see how kids of today react to that kind of process 20 years ago because it’s likely a very different experience than it is now.”
It might take place in Boring, but this show is anything but — tie a flannel around your waist and give it a go.