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Netflix Anatomy: Everything Sucks!

The inspirations behind the new series of Netflix set in the 90s

Netflix Anatomy: Everything Sucks! The inspirations behind the new series of Netflix set in the 90s

It's 1996. No cell phones or Instagram. There is still Blockbuster; the music is heard with the walkman; Oasis quarrels with the Blur; female icons are complicated women like Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani, Tori Amos or Fiona Apple; flannels and cropped tops are a must; Leonardo di Caprio is the guy of Basketball Diaries and the ring pops are the daily snack.

In this scenario Luke O'Neil (Jahi Di'Allo Winston), his A/V Club friends, Kate (Peyton Kennedy), Emaline (Sydney Sweeney) and the theater group try to survive adolescence and, in meanwhile, to understand who they are.

Between friendships, falling in love, embarrassments, daily difficulties, the only constant of their life is one: Everything sucks.

No sentence better than this describes being adolescent.

Not surprisingly, it is the same one that Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan have chosen as the title of their TV series on a group of nerd students of Boring High School.

The Netflix show, consisting of ten episodes just over twenty minutes each, resumes the mood of teen-drama like "My So-Called Life" and "Freaks & Geeks", remaining a product enjoyable, light, pleasantly full of references , but far from the quality of series like The End of the World***ing World or as Stranger Things.


Feel like: Henrietta Harris

Broken faces, fragmented like pieces of a broken mirror.

Faces that seem to dissolve, dissipate like smoke or hidden behind brushstrokes of color.

The protagonists of the paintings on paper, especially watercolors, made by New Zealander Henrietta Harris are young people in the making, looking for an identity among the many nuances of themselves.

Like the kids of Everything Sucks!.


Dress like: Ader Error

To dress the kids for Everything Sucks! Costume designer Alexandra Welker made a trip aesthetics 90s.

She looked through the pages of fashion magazines, store catalogs, books, high school yearbooks of the decade and watched many films like Empire Records or Reality Bites.

The protagonist of a tv series, Angela Chase of My So Called Life, is for example the inspiration behind the look of Kate, even if the silver slip dress she had at the final party shouts loudly "Calvin Klein".

In general, however, the clothes worn by Luke and the other students of Boring High School are those that made up the wardrobe of the average adolescent of 1996: jeans, t-shirts, shirts (often flannels), sneakers and torn attitude.

That same mix of pieces, made more glamorous by Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis, gave way to the grunge fashion and formed the iconography of an entire generation aesthetics.

The whole atmosphere and style of that period is embodied by Emmaline. The queen of the theater group, in search of her identity, experiments with looks, taking inspiration from the 90s female icons: Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani (in the No Doubt version) or the dark Fairuza Balk in the cult movie The Craft.

Among the accessories sported by the eclectic teenager and her boyfriend Oliver, aka the guy with the Marines officer's World War II coat filled with pins of post-punk band of the 80s, there is a tribute to the couple Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie: the necklace with the vial of blood.

And if the crew of Everything Sucks! wear the garments of a contemporary brand? Probably the choice would be Ader Error.


Think like: Adrienne Salinger "In My Room: Teenagers in Their Bedrooms"

One of the books that the costume designer Alexandra Welker studied more carefully to reconstruct the 90-year aesthetic is In My Room: Teenagers in Their Bedrooms Adrienne Salinger.

First published in 1995, it is the result of two years of work in which the photographer has collected interviews and images of over 40 teenagers, portrayed in their bedrooms.

“I started it on the West Coast, when I lived there, just out of frustration at the ways teenagers were being depicted…There was this TV show I remember around that time, Beverly Hills 90210, and it was just… it was just atrocious.” - said the author in an interview with Huck Magazine and went on to explain – “So the work started as a desire to give some kind of a voice to the contradictions that occur when you’re on the edge of change. Right in that place where you still live with your parents, and no matter what socio-economic group you’re from, your room is still 10 x 12 feet, with one 60-watt bulb above you, and everything you own is in there”.

Still talking to that magazine Welker revealed a fun detail:

“I started noticing, maybe ten years ago, that in films and advertising and on TV, I was seeing lots of teenager’s rooms that looked like my pictures. And this director said to me, 'You know, that book of yours is the bible for set directors in LA'.

When you say the kicker…


Sound like: Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos & Wonderwall by Oasis

One of the highlights of the Netflix series is, without a doubt, the soundtrack and watching the 10 episodes of the first season is like listening to a pleasant mid-90s mixtape.

Tori Amos is Kate's favorite singer; while the boys celebrate the screening of their film the notes of The Cardigans start with Lovefool; a long-awaited kiss has in the background Ordinary World by Duran Duran; a friendship blossoms on the words of Do not Look Back In Anger by Oasis and the Gallagher brothers with Wonderwall are the declaration of love chosen by Luke.

The playlist is varied and includes the very famous Two Princess by Spin Doctor, I Counting Crows with Mr. JonesPink Triangle by Weezer, Breakfast at Tiffany's by Deep Blue Something, In the Meantime by Spacehog, Popular by Nada Surf and many other pieces.

A little game: can you guess all the parodied songs in Luke's video-declaration of love to Kate? 

(The answer: Oasis’ Wonderwall, Alanis Morissette’s Ironic, Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees, Des'ree’s You Gotta Be, Nirvana’ Smells like Teen Spirit, Blind Melon’s No Rain.)


Taste like: Ring Pops


Love like: the light-hearted and innocent style


The series created by Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan may not be the show of the year, a high quality product like Stranger Things, to which many people compare it, but it is enjoyable.

To make it such is the atmosphere of the 90s and, above all, the light-hearted and innocent style.

The protagonists of this series are not adults made and finished, trapped in bodies of fifteen, which, however, often in the “telefilm” (we called so the TV series in the decade of grunge and Brit pop) were actually done and finished adults trapped in bodies of people over twenty who pretended to be fifteen.

Kate, Luke and the rest of the crew are credible, fragile, clumsy and unresolved like anyone at their age.

This is the real highlight of Everything Sucks!.