Netflix is cashing in on the success of “Stranger Things” with its new original series, “Everything Sucks!,” a tale of teenage love, angst and friendship set in the mid-1990s. 

The first season follows a group of three high school freshmen intent on finding their place in the ranks quickly and quietly. For Luke (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), Tyler (Quinn Liebling) and McQuaid (Rio Mangini), this means joining the A/V club, where they meet Kate Messner (Peyton Kennedy), the principal’s daughter. Luke becomes enamored with Kate, who agrees to go on a date with him after rumors that she is gay begin to circulate around school. In an effort to avoid kissing Luke, Kate accidentally ruins the drama club’s set for its upcoming play. Luke’s olive branch becomes the impetus for the rest of the season: The Drama Club and the A/V club join forces to create a sci-fi romance movie to screen in front of the whole school. 

Other reviewers have juxtaposed “Stranger Things” and “Everything Sucks!” and have yet to reach a consensus. For some, the nostalgic tone of “Everything Sucks!” mirrors that of “Stranger Things,” but, without the fantastical storyline, it can’t help but fall short. For others, the two shows couldn’t be more different. As someone who can’t seem to make myself understand the cultural obsession with “Stranger Things,” I was pleasantly surprised by “Everything Sucks!” No, it doesn’t provide a new take on high school social hierarchy. In fact, the plot is pretty generic. The dialogue isn’t great, and the acting is just shy of good — though it should be noted that each of the actors is actually a teenager and not a 24-year-old impersonating a high school student. 

But the show does a couple of things right. Perhaps one of the most well-done and enjoyable aspects of “Everything Sucks!” is its resurrection of mid-’90s culture. As a child of the ’90s, each episode is like stepping into a time warp for me, complete with trench coats, oversized sunglasses and “the Net.” Truthfully, “Everything Sucks!” is well worth it for the soundtrack alone, which includes Oasis, Everclear, The Offspring — songs that remind me of spontaneous road trips out West with my mom in my blue daisy sundress. 

The soundtrack only enriches the high school struggles “Everything Sucks!” captures well, especially Kate’s journey in discovering and accepting her sexuality. We see Kate nabbing a pornographic magazine from Luke’s garage in the first episode, and we see her making heart eyes at Emmaline (Sydney Sweeney), the drama club’s star actress, from across the cafeteria. 

As the season progresses, we watch Kate not only grapple with understanding herself but with helping others understand her. When she reveals to Luke that she is a lesbian, he tells her that there’s no reason for them to stop dating. It is not until a blowout at a Tori Amos concert that Luke finally understands what Kate has been trying to tell him: She really, truly can’t be who he wants her to be.

It is in these moments that the show hits home. “Everything Sucks!” doesn’t shy away from emotion, whether it’s budding sexuality, abandonment or parental death. Instead it uses these moments to show us characters who feel, who sometimes make the wrong decisions and who have a great deal to learn from one another.

When all is said and done, “Everything Sucks!” is a fun show. While it isn’t groundbreaking or laugh-out-loud funny, the show gives us likeable characters, an amusing storyline and a handful of truly endearing and relatable high school moments, all wrapped up in slap bracelets and jelly sandals. The first season concludes on a bit of a contentious note — with Luke’s deadbeat, runaway dad waiting on his doorstep — and hints at a second season worth watching. There’s certainly room for “Everything Sucks!” to grow. Every show has to start somewhere.