Is The Book Always Better?


Photo by: Rotten Tomatoes

I Am Not Okay With This– An exception to the ‘book is better’ rule? Spoilers ahead.

    I Am Not Okay With This is a comedy and sci-fi series released by Netflix in early 2020. The show was well-received but unfortunately canceled due to complications caused by Covid later that same year. While fans of the show cannot look for a resolution to the cliff-hanger ending of season one, some turn to the lesser known comic of the same name.

    Unbeknownst to many, the show was based off of a graphic novel by Charles Forsman. A quick read, this comic actually differs significantly from the show. Sometimes it’s minor details such as the protagonist, Sydney’s, age, but it doesn’t stop there. In fact, most of the plot in the show is completely original. The only similarity between the two versions is the base concept.

    The show spans over seven episodes, during which 17-year-old Sydney Novak discovers that she has suddenly developed powers, and, more importantly, that her best friend and love interest, Dina, has started dating a local jock. The series follows her life as she tries to date her eccentric neighbor, Stan, and hide her abilities. It all culminates in a disturbing finale that is strongly reminiscent of Stephen King’s Carrie.

    While the show is certainly not without its dark themes and moments, it also maintains a firm foundation of comic relief and light-hearted moments. The comic, however, absolutely drops into the deep end of depressing fiction, and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the unexpectedness of it may have contributed to the negative reactions of those coming to it from the show. In fact, calls it “oppressively bleak”.

    The graphic novel is about 190 pages long with a simple art style, and follows a 15-year-old version of Syd where she explains to the readers her disdain for life and general hatred of her classmates, with the exception of Dina. She only briefly mentions Stan, and instead is pursuing a person named Ryan who is completely absent from the show. The main consistency with the show is her powers, which, as in the show, she believes to be connected to or perhaps inherited from her father, who passed away before the events of the story. Using these powers, she accidentally kills the same jock from the show, Bradley, in an attempt to stop his bullying towards her. Afterwards, she retreats guiltily into the woods, and the comic ends *SPOILER ALERT* with Syd’s death in addition to Bradley’s. 

    The different stories and tones between the two versions seem to be the largest causations of the disapproval for the comic. On Goodreads, a reviewer named Vanessa said “The graphic novel is pretty different from the show. And turns out, I liked the show much more.” Other reviewers complained that the characters weren’t fleshed out as much as in the show, that the comic was much too depressing, and that the art style was bland.

    While enjoyment of the art style is perhaps more subjective than enjoyment of the content itself, it is true that the art in the comic is somewhat plain, with just simple characters and often near-empty backgrounds. However, the blank art does somewhat match the empty feeling that this novel leaves you with.

    In contrast with this, the show has a rather strong atmosphere. The clothing and set design match together to create a very consistent and almost signature feel. It still maintains a bleak mood, but does this in a more visually appealing way. 

    It is often said that the book is better than the show or movie, but there seems to be a general consensus among viewers that I Am Not Okay With This is an exception to this rule. The show, supported by a strong cast and more fleshed-out writing, has been rated more enjoyable by the people of Goodreads and Rotten Tomatoes, and while the comic may be a skip for many, the Netflix version is excellent.