When it was originally on: 2020-present
Original network: Freeform
Where you can stream it now: Hulu
Had I seen it before: No
What IMDb says: After their father’s untimely death, Nicholas and his two half-sisters are left to cope with not only a devastating loss, but also the realization that Nicholas is the one who will have to rise to the occasion and hold it all together.
Why I picked it: I thought it would be fun to include several brand spankin’ new entries on The List. January isn’t exactly known for its wealth of high quality television premieres, but as the concept of September-May being “television season” grows more and more obsolete everyday, I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Everything’s Gonna Be Okay premiered on Freeform this week. It’a a basic cable comedy, which was actually a surprisingly difficult box to check when looking for List entries. It’s also a comedy about coping with a tragedy. Personally, I love a good dark comedy, and I love comedies that aren’t afraid to punch me in the feels.
What I liked: Damn near everything. I love all three of our main characters. Each one gets chances to be funny, and each one gets chances to be vulnerable. All the performances are spot on.
One of our main three characters (who’s also my favorite), Matilda, is on the autism spectrum, and so I tried to find perspectives written by autistic people before I wrote this review. To me, the character was charming and funny, and her autism was both apparent and sometimes caused conflict, but was never portrayed as a great burden far harder than anything her neurotypical sister Genevieve has to deal with. I’d love to hear someone on the spectrum’s take on Matilda, but since the show is so new I had trouble finding that.
What I did learn in my research is that Kayla Cromer, the actress who plays Matilda, is on the spectrum herself. The decision to give this role to an autistic actress gives me hope that the show will treat Matilda with the necessary level of sensitivity. But don’t it get it twisted: Cromer didn’t just get the role because she’s autistic, she got the role because she’s fucking fantastic as Matilda. Even just one episode in, I can’t imagine this character being played better by anyone else. She’s strong and confident in a sort of awkward Tina Belcher sort of way, but also vulnerable. I love her, and I want to spend more time with her, as well as her siblings.
It’s also interesting to me how Matilda’s inability to read social cues sometimes manifests in great wisdom. At one point, she tells her sister Genevieve that eating alone is better than eating with crappy friends who spread your secrets all over school. They’re not necessarily portraying autism as some weird superpower that makes Matilda smarter than everyone else, but they ARE showing you how Matilda and Genevieve view the world differently, and how both sisters are able to learn and grow by listening to each other’s perspectives.
I also think it’s hella interesting that just two days after saying Six Feet Under should have let us see Dad in action before killing him, that’s the EXACT strategy Everything’s Gonna Be Okay takes. Dad is still alive at first, and we get to see how much he loves all three of his kids. One of the most heart wrenching scenes comes when Dad screams “this is my bucket list!” in reference to making sure his daughters are taken care of after his passing. We actually miss dad when he dies because we know how precious he was to the children left behind.
What I didn’t like: This isn’t a “dislike” per se, but it slightly concerns me that the pilot is a full 42 minutes while the other episodes moving forward will only be 21 minutes. A big part of why I loved Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is its ability to blend comedy with heavier, emotionally impactful scenes, and the jury’s still out on whether or not the show can make that work with 21 minute episodes.
Another not-really-a-dislike-but-just-a-concern is how most of the comedy in Everything’s Gonna Be Alright tends to rely on cringey, awkward, embarrassment based humor. That’s something I can usually only take in small doses, and I also totally understand how the show could be off-putting for people who aren’t into that. In the pilot, I feel like they keep this kind of humor in check, and balance it out with enough genuine heartfelt moments that it’s not a problem. I hope that they don’t lean into that too much as the series progresses.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: Yes. If not for the only-the-pilot rule, I would’ve probably watched all three episodes that are on Hulu right away.