A cross between "Carrie" and "My So-Called Life," the new drama/fantasy "I Am Not Okay With This" on Netflix stars Sophia Lillis as Sydney, the angry, moody, depressed tomboy teen whose voice narrates the series.
She's first seen in her guidance counselor's office, where it is suggested that she keep a journal to jot down her dark thoughts and feelings.
As in every teen show, Sydney expresses her vulnerability through snark, often laced with obscenity. She has a best friend in Dina (Sofia Bryant), a fellow newcomer to their grim little city, a Pennsylvania factory town that the factory left a few generations back. Over the course of the first few episodes, she grows disenchanted as Dina drifts into a romance with a vain football player. As a result, she wanders into the orbit of Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), an oddball down the street, every bit her equal in the opinionated sarcasm department.
All of this would be drama enough for most series, but "Okay" is based on a graphic novel by Charles Forsman. As we recently saw in Prime's "Hunters" series, shows based on that medium tend to lay it on rather thickly. It's not enough that Sydney's dad is out of the picture and that she misses him. He hung himself in the basement. This detail seems terribly out of sorts with the show's tone.
Then there's the whole "Carrie" thing. Over the course of the pilot, Sydney discovers, or fears, that she can move things around with her mind and her angry mood swings. Again, this takes things in a whole new direction, distracting us from a perfectly good teen melodrama.
Kathleen Rose Perkins ("Episodes") stars as Syd's mother, Maggie, an overworked waitress, exasperated by her teenage daughter. Neither seem capable of discussing the tragedy at the center of their lives.
The show is shot on location in a small city outside of Pittsburgh. Like a lot of things about "Okay," its bleak post-industrial atmosphere takes things just a few steps too far. The streets and buildings capture an American dream gone sour, but they are invariably empty. In most of the scenes, the kids have the place to themselves, as if the town were depopulated by some otherworldly force. There's a Rod Serling, after-the-big-one quality to these lonely, gloomy streets. What good is having a superpower when there's no one around to see it?
-- "It's Personal With Amy Hoggart" (10 p.m., TBS, TruTV, TV-14) stars the "Full Frontal" correspondent as a clueless, insecure lifestyle "expert" with a British accent out to solve strangers' problems. As a spoof, it blends the understated with the obvious. "Personal" doesn't know whether to be subtle or slapstick, so it tries both. And fails.
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
A menagerie looks to the heavens to locate a special manger in the animated 2017 Christmas movie "The Star" (6:50 p.m. and 8:35 p.m., FXM, TV-PG).
-- A patient insists on an imposter routine on "Chicago Med" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
"The Masked Singer" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14) ... On two helpings of "The Goldbergs" (ABC, TV-PG): toeing the lunch line (8 p.m.), scalped (8:30 p.m., r) ... A dark night in the woods on "Riverdale" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
"Lego Masters" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) ... Deluxe accommodations on "Modern Family" (9 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) ... A brand-new lead emerges on "Nancy Drew" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
Jason Segal and Charlotte Alter sit down on the "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert“ (11:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes David Beckham, Guy Fieri and Doja Cat on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Nick Jonas, Travis Kelce, Finesse Mitchell and Michel'Le Baptiste visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC).