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‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’ comes back with the same genuine message

| Thursday, April 15, 2021

Elaine Park | The Observer

“Everything’s Gonna Be Okay” reminds us that everything is going to be okay. Freeform may be known for its questionable family dramas, but this 30-minute sitcom dramedy is jam packed with sincerity. It lets the viewers and its characters sit with embarrassment for seconds before cutting the tension in realistic, relatable ways. On April 8, the show premiered the first two episodes of its second season and did not falter. The first season told the story of a mishmash family grieving the death of their father. Nicholas is played by show creator and writer, Josh Thomas. He takes custody of his two half-siblings, Matilda and Genevieve, played by Kayla Cromer and Maeve Press, while pursuing a relationship with his new boyfriend, Alex, played by Adam Faison. The show screams passion project, as every scene, line and performance encapsulates care. 

The second season takes place in the present. I have been having a hard time with television because I want to escape COVID and not be reminded of it, but the established realism of this show and its aims make it insanely watchable and occasionally comforting.  Everyone is more comfortable with their family roles, and now the writers are exploring the characters’ internal motives and interpersonal dynamics more fully. This show handles neurodivergence with a kindness that I have never seen. Originally, a lot of its attention came from them casting Cromer, an autistic actor, to play an autistic character, but it is not just the casting that makes the character realistic. It’s also the story. Matilda’s autism is never treated as an obstacle to overcome. It’s simply a part of her, and her difficulties come and go in the same way anyone else’s do. In one of the premiere episodes, it is revealed that Alex’s dad is deaf. This was revealed when his father called and he started to sign on a call with him. This nonchalance normalizes disability and the people around it as not suffering. The show engages with other forms of diversity the same way, whether it be race or sexual preference, the characters are informed by their experiences without becoming them.

 The writing around diversity is spectacular, but all shows should be writing characters like those that appear in “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay.” That is not why the show is good; the show is good because it’s good. There are no heartthrobs in this show. No characters informed by archetypes or stereotypes, all the characters are endearing and unique desperately trying to get through life while comforting and helping those around them. The beauty of this show is its humanity. In 20 minute episodes, Thomas is able to offer the viewer a snapshot into the lives of the characters that are funny, sad and utterly human. The camera is almost a character moving along with the characters, and offering different perspectives of them. The show takes risks shaping the story around the creativity of the people making it. This show is as much about growing up as it is about family. The sisters in the show are trying so hard to fit in while maintaining their individuality in a way that immediately pulls on heartstrings without being cheesy or preachy. The moments in this show are nuanced, even if the characters aren’t personality wise.

Television is overly saturated with tear-jerking and bingeable content, this show returns to the old form. It’s meant to be seen in small intervals, offering only a peak before you leave the characters to their privacy again. This limited viewing experience mimics human relationships. Thomas not only offers compelling and realistic stories about building relationships and growing up for the viewers to enjoy, but a brief set of friends to remind us that Everything is going to be okay.

 

Show: “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay”

Starring: Kayla Cromer, Josh Thomas, Maeve Press

Favorite Episodes: “Monarch Butterflies”

If you Like: “Life in Pieces,” “Modern Family,” “Boy Meets World”

Where to Watch: Hulu

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

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