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For a series that demands everything, everywhere, all at once, Everything Now actually manages to hit plenty of teen show requisites while creating its own. Teen shows are seemingly rampaging through streaming services of late, blending comedy, mystery, and drama, from Netflix’s Sex Education, Never Have I Ever, Heartstopper, and Riverdale to HBO’s Euphoria — standing on the shoulders of Capeside and Bayside giants, of course. 

Netflix’s latest British offering, created by 22-year-old Ripley Parker, is in intimidating company but manages to stand joyfully queer and tall, with its raw, authentic, and surprisingly hilarious portrayal of the pitfalls and triumphs of teen life among serious mental health themes. The series revolves around protagonist Mia (played with utter vulnerability, obstinacy, and comedic flair by Talk to Me’s Sophie Wilde), who is managing the anfractuous road through physical and mental recovery from an eating disorder. It’s a deeply significant part of her life, but importantly, the series insists on it not being the defining aspect of it. In fact, she has a whole bucket list to “redefine” herself with.

Sitting in an assembly of towering teen titles, the show feels uniquely itself, crafting a realistically messier portrayal of teen life than sweeter shows like Never Have I Ever or Heartstopper without plunging into Skins’ or Euphoria‘s particular brand of dark realism. And with Sex Education director Alyssa McClelland helming two episodes alongside Charlie Manton, Dionne Edwards, and Laura Steinel, the show’s in expert hands.

What is Everything Now about?

A group of teens sit in a school cafeteria.
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Credit: Netflix / Left Bank

Set in North London, Parker’s eight-episode series hinges around Mia, a 16-year-old who we meet leaving the clinic where she’s spent months receiving specialist treatment for anorexia and bulimia. Plunged back into her life — with condescending teachers and whispers at school and a supportive family at home — Mia faces the long, complicated, often misunderstood healing process and all the lack of privacy that comes with it. 

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But while time has stood still for Mia at the clinic, it’s moved significantly forward for her best friends Becca (Lauryn Ajufo), Will (Noah Thomas), and Cam (Harry Cadby). Mia feels behind on everything she deems a significant teen milestone: first dates, booze, drugs, subsequent hangovers, parties, and sex, to name a few. So, she writes a bucket list and enlists her best pals to help her cross every last thing off — bringing popular frenemy Alison (Niamh McCormack) and bigtime crush Carli (TikTok star Jessie Mae Alonzo) along for the ride. Mia’s bucket list functions as a narrative device to push her through a series of “firsts” which embody the horrorshow of adolescence, a range contemporary teen shows have long perfected, all while Mia is in recovery. 

A teen holds up a piece of paper that says Mia's bucket list.


Credit: Netflix / Left Bank

Mia’s context isn’t funny at all, but writer Parker and actor Wilde craft a multi-dimensional character instead of relying on shallow tropes. Mia is stubborn, goofy, naive, rude, smart, and cares deeply for her friends, but more than anything, she lives inside her own head. Wilde’s ability to make her melodramatic, self-flagellating protagonist want to burrow into the sand at every turn is deeply relatable, and also truly connected to her character’s own mental health. 

Everything Now presents Mia as more than her disorder, but without ignoring the realities

Portrayals of eating disorders are rarely applaudable on screen. Netflix’s To the Bone completely missed the mark with its portrayal of anorexia. However, Everything Now actually manages to present Mia’s story and experience respectfully, ethically, as factually as a TV show can, and as completely personal to Mia herself. Each episode contains a trigger warning at the top and directions to Netflix’s mental health initiative wannatalkaboutit.com at the end (providing resources is the least TV shows can do), but the show actually approaches the realities of eating disorders with respect and nuance, especially foregrounded in Mia’s inner monologues that speak directly to her feelings of social anxiety and body dysmorphia. 

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“People think anorexia is all about wanting to be beautiful, wanting to be thin, and believing they’re the same thing,” she says. “But it wouldn’t matter how thin I got, when I still feel this wrong. Like there’s something missing in me, something that reaches far deeper than elegant hands and oestrogen. You are incorrect, Mia. Incorrectly feminine. You must have been sick that day they taught you how to be a girl. A real girl.” 

A teen girl sits front-on to the camera.


Credit: Netflix / Left Bank

The series shows setbacks in recovery, that healing isn’t a straight path, and that opinions will rage. Certain well-intentioned but loaded, euphemistic phrases ring louder than others for Mia — “you’re brave”; “you look healthy”; “you’re fixed now”  — and the writers give them the charged emotional gravitas they can have. Mia struggles with feelings of surveillance from her “fucking food police” family, attempts to manage her relationship with clothes and body dysmorphia. Parker’s script hits home runs here, especially with this one: “Mirror mirror on the wall, please give me a fucking break.”

Through her bucket list, Mia becomes determined to project a level of fine-ness, to avoid judgment and social stigma associated with her disorder. “I need to show them I’m better,” she says to herself. “That I can be normal.” During the episodes, Mia oscillates from deep depression and anxiety to impulsive acts of rebellion and self-sabotage, all while her inner monologue either cheers her on or confirms her strident personal criticisms. I’ll admit, I’ve heard many of Mia’s self-evaluations inside my own head. Mia’s actions often feel like they’d end up as lyrics in an Olivia Rodrigo song — as Pitchfork’s Cat Zhang writes in their review for GUTS, “She may not be the ideal role model, but the best main characters never are.”

Mia’s relationship with her family, especially with her mother (the impeccable Vivienne Acheampong), is one of the core arcs of the series, with each trying to understand each other, near unable to meet in the middle. Though they often bite each other’s heads off and feel their own forms of resentment toward each other, ultimately, Mia and her brother Alex’s (Sam Reuben) relationship is pure vulnerability and rawness without judgment. 

But it’s also Mia’s relationship with her best friends that proves her biggest challenge, often treating them like garbage while they’re going through their own shit.

Everything Now broadens the spectrum of teen experiences

Mia’s journey is the main storyline of Everything Now, but it’s far from the only experience portrayed on screen. Parker told Netflix that while she kept a “healthy level of distance between myself and my life and Mia and her friends,” the narrative evolved out of her own experiences during adolescence. The plot expanded from Mia’s story only to William, Becca, and Cam’s storylines too after getting into the writers room, and while Mia’s friends consistently support Mia and acknowledge recovery can be a mess, they also have their own shit going on.

Four teens hug holding a piece of paper and a balloon.


Credit: Netflix / Left Bank

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Like many of the aforementioned teen shows, Everything Now‘s characters have a range of sexualities and identities, and the series attempts to examine the broad spectrum of teen experiences, from body image to bullying, teen pregnancy and abortion, and become their own shadow bucket list for the show to draw from. At times it feels a little like that, a list, but Parker treats each circumstance or issue with adequate respect.

Everything Now gives teen experience the space it deserves, as messy and complicated and painful and joyful as it can be. Foregrounding queer identities and respectfully portraying experiences with some of life’s biggest challenges, the series feels like its own, setting itself apart from the veritable ocean of teen series out there.

Put this show on your bucket list now.

How to watch: Everything Now is streaming on Netflix from Oct. 5.

If you feel like you’d like to talk to someone about your eating behavior, text “NEDA” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected with a trained volunteer or visit the National Eating Disorder Association website for more information.

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