Following his global success with Please Like Me, Josh Thomas is back with a new comedy, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, produced for Freeform (US).
Presumably there was much freedom story-wise as to the world he would next explore, and Thomas has opted for accidental parent in this US based-tale. This time it’s also fictional terrain, rather than drawing upon direct family.
The story begins with Nicholas (Thomas) visiting his father (Christopher May) in the US and his two teen half-sisters, Genevieve (Maeve Press) and Matilda (Kayla Cromer) who is on the autism spectrum. But after his father dies suddenly, Nicholas agrees to undertake guardian duties and cancels plans to return to Australia.
However parenting, even as a cool 20-something, will not come easily, especially with Genevieve battling schoolyard mean girls and Matilda requiring extra attention as she enters adolescence.
At the same time Nicholsa is starting a new romance with Alex (Adam Faison) who is studying to become a dentist. The opening chapter emerges as a mix of awkward romance, grief and family struggles, in trademark Thomas style.
Director Rebecca Thomas (Stranger Things, Limetown) is well-positioned to transition the Thomas tone from Australia to the US, gently milking the comedy without ever abandoning his knack for social observation. There are a lot of touchstones similar to his ABC hit, from the musical flavour, to the modern definitions of family, to mental health and budding gay romance. There’s even a family dog (now a St. Bernard).
Thomas again surrounds himself with likeable characters and accomplished young performers. Maeve Press and newcomer Kayla Cromer are fine young additions to this tangled US-Australian family. Thomas himself is likely to draw parallels to his Please Like Me role, and there were moments I wondered if he was affecting an accent for US viewers. Non-believers, and they seem to number quite a few online, are unlikely to be swayed by the new material here.
Amid its moments of joy Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is never far from growing pains, but it’s a Thomas-light touch in ways that Party of Five never attempted.
Spontaneity is also one of Thomas’ other strengths and there’s early signs, such as a eulogy speech, this will lend itself well to such. I fully expect to be confronted when I least expect it, and having a smile wiped off my face by an uncomfortable character moment.
And I’m okay with that too.
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay begins today on Stan.