Everything Sucks! (director: Ry Russo-Young) takes place in the '90s and it will not let you forget it. The story of Kate Messner, Luke O'Neill, and the other denizens of Boring High School could only be told in the 1990s, when technology was still growing but hadn't quite reached the point of cellular phones and SMS messaging and when putting your phone off the hook meant nobody could call you. To say that the 90's references in Everything Sucks! are plentiful is an understatement.
Peyton Kennedy, who plays the quiet Kate Messner in Everything Sucks! revealed in a roundtable discussion that "the characters could be found no matter what time period it is, and the ‘90s are just a backdrop." But while that may be the case, the cast also admitted that in making the series they studied everything '90s, from Beavis and Butthead to Courtney Love. The characters are going through universal struggles, but there's no mistaking the time period for anything other than the late '90s.
When stuck in a town as boring as the aptly named Boring, Oregon, there's not much to do other than talk about whatever relevant pop culture is worthy of discussion. In the first episode alone, the characters of Everything Sucks! discuss Alanis Morissette's "Ironic," Hi-C, and the then-upcoming Star Wars prequels. Even the drama club is getting in on the '90s action by producing Anton Chekov's Uncle Vanya — which was first performed in the 1890s. Clearly, there is simply no show more '90s than Everything Sucks!
In the first episode alone, there are at least 22 obvious references to distinct cultural touchstones from the '90s, meaning that the episode is dropping a new '90s reference for nearly every minute of its runtime. The first episode begins with the blaring horns of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and ends with a boy watching a VCR tape. Anyone looking for a time machine back to the decade will be happy to find that Everything Sucks! features everything you could have possibly missed about the 1990s.
Boring, Oregon is a world where someone has to pull out a Tamagotchi mid-conversation because it needs to be fed. High schoolers use six-packs of Zima as bargaining chips. One of the most exciting times of the month is seeing what new CD came in from Columbia House and being disappointed because you already owned a copy of Oasis' (What's The Story) Morning Glory? However, because the kids of Boring, Oregon, are teenagers, the actual teenagers of Everything Sucks! were born long after the decade finished. Peyton Kennedy admitted that she thought that "The slang was so weird," with castmate Elijah Stevenson expressing confusion that "There was no, like, dank. It was all about apple-bobbing."
While they didn't understand everything about the '90s, the cast agreed that "Wonderwall" is a great song. Kennedy explained that "[It] was like our anthem," and cast member Sydney Sweeney recalled that "on the last day we wrapped, we were all on the bus together, we started singing it and we were crying." How very '90s, indeed.
While the show enjoys celebrating the culture of the '90s, it also doesn't shy away from looking at how the time period wasn't great for everyone. This is mainly true for Kate, is starting to realize that she's a queer girl in a very straight world where there was a lot less acceptance than there is in 2018. "It’s always good to see that we’re progressing and becoming better as humans, not just staying focused on what hasn’t changed," cast member Elijah Stevenson said.
Everything Sucks! is drenched in nostalgia, but it accepts that when you're looking at an era, the good needs to be included with the bad. Everything Sucks! reminds viewers that the '90s weren't all Gak and Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes. By showcasing the bad and the good, Everything Sucks! creates a period piece that doubles as a crash course on the culture of the '90s.