Created by Mohan and Ben York Jones, the sole season of the Netflix series “Everything Sucks!” arrived the same year that Sweeney had recurring roles on both “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Sharp Objects.” While both of those shows fall under the “prestige TV” banner, it was the ’90s-set coming-of-age series that first seriously put Sweeney on my radar. Set in Borin, Oregon in 1996, “Everything Sucks!” was about a group of teenagers working together to make a movie, while also processing the trials and tribulations of growing up in an honest and authentic way. Sweeny played Emaline Addario, a high school junior and the leading lady of the school’s drama club. She had huge emotions, flashy outfits, and deeply rooted insecurities hidden by a wall of performative “theatre kid” behavior.
There was a bit of controversy when Emaline developed a crush on co-star Peyton Kennedy’s character Kate because Sweeney performed her role at the age of 20 while Kennedy was only 14. However, Kennedy has gone on record multiple times to discuss how safe, secure, and comfortable she felt on set and with Sweeney, including an on-screen kiss. Teenage queerness is still very rare to see in mainstream entertainment, but “Everything Sucks!” took such care in telling Kate and Emaline’s stories that the show undoubtedly saved lives.
It’s the antidote to the kind of criticisms lobbied at a series like “Euphoria,” and a bevy of talented young would-be stars. Seriously, Kennedy, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, and Elijah Stevenson should be as well-known as the “Stranger Things” cast. “Everything Sucks!” was a show too good for this world, a series with so much sincere heart and vulnerability that it’s no wonder our increasingly cynical, sardonic, and uncomfortable world didn’t know what to do with it.