Anyone lucky enough to catch Josh Thomas’ first comedy series Please Like Me knows that the Australian comedian has a knack for finding the humor in unconventional situations. That is fully on display in his heartwarming and hilarious new series Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, which follows a group of half siblings as they try to survive and thrive in the wake of their father’s death. Thomas shines as big brother Nicholas who steps up to care for his younger siblings. But Maeve Press and Kayla Cromer steal the show as Genevieve and Matilda, the two sisters whose quirks and general teenage angst make for a hysterically funny and moving combination. Read on for a recap of the first two episodes of Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, which I cannot recommend enough.
Episode 1: “Seven-Spotted Ladybug”
The first hour starts with Nicholas and Alex on a date. They are flirty with each other and Nicholas suggests they go back to his father’s house, since he will be going home to Australia tomorrow. When Alex asks why Nicholas’ father lives in America and not in Australia, Nicholas tries to deflect with humor. But he eventually tells Alex that his father left them years ago and had a child with a woman in America. The daughter was later diagnosed with autism. He then wryly comments, “I’ll never be able to compete with that.” Alex tries to backtrack, realizing this veered into personal territory way too soon, but Nicholas brushes it off using sarcasm as a defense mechanism. As Nicholas gets more buzzed, he reveals his father then had a second daughter with his new wife, who died 11 years ago. He also notes that his mother offered him money not to leave her when he was 12, which is why he didn’t move to America. Despite all this, Alex agrees to stop by and visit tomorrow before Nicholas leaves.
The next morning, Nicholas greets his father Darren and half-sister Matilda in the kitchen. Matilda has autism, and doesn’t have the reaction Nicholas is looking for when he reminds her he’s leaving for Australia. Genevieve, her younger sister, enters carrying laundry. Nicholas tries to get a reaction from her, but she is silent as she puts her sheets in the washer, clearly embarrassed. After some teasing, she admits she got her period for the first time. Darren acts overjoyed and even offers to order cupcakes for breakfast. Genevieve, proving deadpan humor runs in the family, says, “You’re overcompensating because I don’t have a mom, again” as she leaves.
Genevieve and Matilda go bike riding to the bus stop, where Matilda shares that she is “in love” with Luke. Genevieve notes that “everyone” loves Luke because he is popular, which confuses Matilda when she takes her statement literally and frets about ruining her relationship with Genevieve over a boy. Genevieve reassures her that it was just a figure of speech, saying that she doesn’t have a heart before Matilda gently teases her about a boy she knows Genevieve likes. Genevieve tries to tell Matilda that she can’t just ask Luke out since he doesn’t know her. Matilda knows he might say no and it wouldn’t bother her, but she feels she needs to make herself vulnerable to find love. Genevieve tells Matilda to try to flirt and asks if she knows how, to which Matilda replies, “you just have to ask them questions about themselves and pretend that they’re smarter than you” (a technique she learned from YouTube videos).
Back at home, Darren is still at home when he should be at work. Nicholas asks why he’s still here, and his father tells him he has incurable cancer and doesn’t have long to live. Nicholas is shocked and walks outside. Genevieve and Matilda arrive at school, where Genevieve joins her friends Tallulah, Barb, and Nikita. Tellulah, clearly the ringleader, tries to get Genevieve to make fun of Barb’s hat, but she declines. Tellulah storms off as Barb removes the hat. Genevieve tells her the hat looks nice and that Tellulah was being mean, but Barb leaves the hat off.
Back at the house, Nicholas is trying to process what Darren told him as his phone chimes. It’s Alex, whom Nicholas has forgotten about after his father’s announcements. He rushes to let him in and tells his father to “be somewhere else,” to which his father retorts, “nonsense, if you’re in love with a boy I want to meet him before I die.” Alex enters the house and immediately starts talking about having sex before Nicholas can tell him his father is still at home, which is a hilariously awkward moment when Darren reveals himself. When Alex says he’s embarrassed, Darren says, “I already knew my son does anal sex, probably terribly. Iced tea?” It’s clear this is where Nicholas gets his sense of humor from.
Matilda waits to go into school until all the other students are inside, fixing posters and closing partially opened lockers. Jeremy, a friend who is also on the autism spectrum, asks her out, but she turns him down. It seems this is a common occurrence for him. Darren joins Alex and Nicholas outside with iced tea. They make small talk, but it soon comes out that Nicholas is not going back to Australia because Darren has cancer. Alex, who by this point knows way too much about someone he has been on a few casual dates with, offers to leave, but Darren tells him to stay, thinking their relationship is more serious. Alex mentions that they’ve only met three times and ultimately gets up to leave.
Matilda is staring at Luke across the quad, working up the courage to approach him. She finally does and declares to him and his friends, “I want to get to know Luke.” She “flirts,” following the tips from the video and declaring, “you’re so much smarter than me.” Matilda is sweet, and it seems Luke and his friends are playing along to spare her embarrassment. She tries a joke about autism and vaccines, which gets a laugh out of Luke when she immediately follows it with, “that’s a joke.” She then says, “I’m also only into black men, is that appropriate?” Luke chuckles and tells her she’s awesome as she skips away, happy. She does a unique happy dance as Luke looks on, puzzled but smiling.
Darren shows Nicholas the many legal papers he’s prepared regarding his death, and Nicholas is overwhelmed. But when Darren asks if he will be Matilda and Genevieve’s guardian, he says yes with no hesitation. He tries to get his father to stop talking, offering several “bucket list” ideas they could carry out together instead, but Darren gets angry. He’s obviously worried about his daughters and declares that all the legal paperwork is his bucket list. He leaves to make lunch as Nicholas ponders this. It’s clear he still hasn’t fully processed the news.
Genevieve goes to sit at her friends’ table, but Tellulah stops her. She asks why she would want to sit there since Genevieve told Barb she hates Tellulah. Genevieve, who had said that in the context of making Barb feel better, says that a teenager wouldn’t be normal if she didn’t hate her friends occasionally. Just then, Matilda arrives. She excitedly tells Genevieve about her conversation with Luke. Tellulah and the other girls laugh, but Matilda takes no notice. She mentions Genevieve’s period, and Barb reacts in confusion. Genevieve had told her friends that she already had it. When Genevieve tries to lie, Matilda becomes confused and starts berating herself for not understanding what’s going on. As Genevieve’s friends start making fun of Genevieve for lying, Matilda panics and runs away. She runs to the empty and dark auditorium to calm herself down by playing the piano.
As Matilda plays, we see Darren and Nicholas talk about the guardianship issue. Darren wants to let the girls decide, while Nicholas says he absolutely wants to be their guardian. They review a list of candidates Darren put together. Genevieve sits in class as her classmates throw tampons at her: obviously Tellulah has spread the word. Nicholas wants to know why his father isn’t more enthusiastic about his being the girls’ guardian, and after some discussion about how he hasn’t spent a lot of time with them, Nicholas realizes his father thinks the girls won’t want him. Genevieve’s teacher notices and holds up a box of tampons. She asks the ringleader boy what he thinks is so funny about them and proceeds to lecture the class about how tampons are completely normal. Genevieve is more embarrassed than before. Nicholas walks away from Darren when he feels hurt that he is not Darren’s first choice, as Matilda finishes her song and slams the lid of the piano.
On the bus home, Matilda apologizes. She is confused as to how the others found out, since Genevieve’s friends must have spread the rumor. She doesn’t understand how they could be her friends and also do something so mean. Genevieve says they’re the best she’s got, and it beats sitting alone like Matilda. Darren goes to Nicholas. He says the real reason he worried about making Nicholas the guardian was that he was embarrassed to ask such a large favor when he hadn’t been there for Nicholas. He’s emotional and tells Nicholas he loves him. Nicholas, uncomfortable with open emotion, quietly says he loves him, too, and reassures him that those concerns are silly.
The girls arrive home, with Genevieve announcing her presence by screaming, “I don’t like being a teenager that exists!” They notice something is wrong. Darren tries to cover by asking if they want to go out and get pudding (Matilda, not reading the cues, is very excited by this). They head out, with the best musical cue playing on the radio (“S Club Party” by S Club 7). It’s incredibly awkward, and Nicholas stops his father as they go in, wanting him to tell the girls what’s going on. Genevieve quips, “If you’re going to tell us Nicholas is gay, we already know.” The group gets the pudding and sits at a picnic table.
Darren tells the girls the truth. Genevieve is silent as Matilda asks a barrage of technical questions, seemingly to cope. She doesn’t react well when she realizes there is no exact timeline for the situation. She breaks, her voice cracking as she says, “Well, this is very upsetting.” Nicholas gives a heartfelt speech explaining why he wants to be their guardian, despite his flaws, and reassuring them they will have him to lean on. The girls say yes to the plan. That night, as Darren goes to bed, Genevieve cuddles up next to him. The rest of the family comes in, and they spend the night together.
After a flash-forward in time, the day of the funeral arrives. Matilda is playing the piano to cope, and Nicholas goes to find Genevieve. She’s dressed in a black dress more suited for prom than a funeral. As Nicholas frantically tries to find a safety pin to fix it, she remarks that she looks like a “child whore widow,” which gets a big laugh out of Nicholas. She’s self-conscious, and it seems their relationship is a bit rocky. Matilda, oblivious, arrives in the doorway and tells Genevieve she looks beautiful.
Their ride arrives; it’s a limo more suited for a party than a funeral. When they arrive, Genevieve’s friends whisk her away as an overwhelmed Matilda puts on headphones. As Nicholas awkwardly deals with the guests, Jeremy finds Matilda and asks her how she is doing. She says her father asked her to do the eulogy, and she’s nervous. She puts her headphones back on, and Jeremy walks away, disappointed that his efforts at conversation have failed. Alex arrives, and Nicholas is relieved to see him. They joke until Genevieve interrupts, asking where she needs to be.
Matilda takes the stage for the eulogy. She is hilarious, joking about her father and his relationship with her. But she is also sweet, talking about how he believed in her abilities when no one else did. She tells Nicholas and Genevieve that they make her feel the same way she felt about him. It’s moving and heartfelt. They leave, with Nicholas trying to reassure Genevieve that he’s not trying to replace their father. She’s angry and lashes out at both him and Alex. Alex tells him to go to his sisters.
Looking for comfort, Nicholas asks Matilda for a hug. She informs him that she only did hugs for their father and hates them, but she will dance with him instead. They have a dance party, and Genevieve joins in when she hears the music. The episode ends with all three in bed together, echoing the image from earlier.
Episode 2: “Greenbottle Blue Tarantula”
Nicholas and Alex are attempting to have sex, but Nicholas is still grieving and having a hard time. In an effort to save the moment, he takes out a $320 bottle of wine his father was saving for a special occasion, noting that saving it didn’t work out well for him. He also shows Alex his bugs; he’s a scientist who studies them. It’s clear he loves the little creatures he has, especially “Stephanie,” a tarantula he rescued. They walk to the girls’ bedroom, where Nicholas notes that he now has power of attorney over them. He makes a joke about how no one would want that, but it seems he’s worried he’s not good enough for them. The two make the girls’ lunches and banter, and their connection is sweet. They finally do have sex, but Nicholas is conflicted on whether to stay with Alex afterwards or return to the girls, since they’ve all slept in Darren’s bed together since he died. Alex reassures him, telling Nicholas to do what he feels is right. Nicholas returns to Darren’s room while Alex remains in Nicholas’ garage-bedroom.
The next day at school, Genevieve’s crush Leonard asks to talk to her. He was among those throwing tampons at her in class and wants to apologize in the wake of her father’s death. He says he told his own father what happened, and his father asked him if that’s the kind of person he wanted to be. So, he decided to apologize. All of this is too much for Genevieve, who can’t look him in the eye throughout the exchange. She runs to an empty corner in the hallway and cries.
Matilda also arrives in class, where her friends have organized a party for her. It quickly becomes funny as Drea, another friend with autism, lets Matilda know that Jeremy wrote the card for her. Jeremy wanted to casually work that bit of information in, but since Drea has an aversion to lying it doesn’t work out well. Drea also points out that Matilda smells like dairy in an attempt to help her, which leads to the both of them running to the locker room shower. On the way, Luke attempts to say hello to Matilda, who just yells “I’m not being rude!” at him as she rushes to the gym. Drea helpfully tells Luke that Matilda smells so they need to take care of it. Drea waits outside with her service dog as Matilda cries in the shower.
Tellulah and Barb find Genevieve in the hallway. They sit with her, and she tells them about what happened with Leonard. She asks them what’s been going on at school, and Barb jokes that Tallulah has been living off the drama of Genevieve’s situation. Tallulah good-naturedly makes fun of herself, and it’s a genuine moment between the girls.
At home, Nicholas gets a call from his mother. As she goes on and on about her cosmetic procedures and her fear that he isn’t having any fun, he finds himself locked out of the house. He eventually must climb through an open window as his mother discusses a hot gym instructor she has before hanging up. He injures his hand climbing, and just as he makes it in, his phone rings again. It’s Sam, Matilda’s teacher. She starts to discuss Matilda’s ambition to attend Julliard and the structure they will need to put into place to make that happen. Nicholas, in pain, cuts her off and tells her that while he does want to discuss this, it will have to be another time. He seems overwhelmed by the situation.
When the girls arrive home, they immediately notice his broken finger. He wanted to be there for them when they got home, which is why he didn’t go to the hospital. Matilda attempts to realign it using tips she saw on YouTube, but Nicholas is understandably wary. Genevieve orders a car to take them to the hospital, since Nicholas can’t drive. They try to distract him from the pain as they wait by asking him to tell a story. He talks about when Genevieve was little and angry at him for “stealing” their dad. She threw a fit, which led to Matilda having a meltdown in solidarity, which led to a bigger tantrum from Genevieve since it seemed like Matilda was always taking the attention. So, she dramatically walked off and pretended she was dead in the car, complete with a note. Nicholas found the note earlier that morning, and they all laugh at the childishness of it. When Genevieve checks to see how close the driver is, they find that she canceled on them.
In an epilogue, Matilda retells the story to Luke, but without Nicholas’ sense of humor, it sounds like she’s making light of suicide. Flustered, she attempts to retell the story to make it funnier, and Luke smiles as he listens to the story again.
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform and is also available to stream on Hulu.